Seeking advice: CNA or other profession while a student?

  1. Short version:
    I have a BA but want to go back to school to become a nurse and will begin my prerequisites soon. I will need a new job next year, and am considering being a CNA, EMT, or ER tech. I'm leaning toward CNA for convenience (quick, cheap training & lots of jobs available) and hospital experience, but think I will probably get bored of being a CNA for 4-odd years while doing nursing prereqs and attending nursing school. So, I'm trying to find some intermediate step between CNA and RN in order to keep my interest up.

    Long version:
    I have a BA with a decent GPA. I took few science courses as an undergrad and will have to take all of the hard science nursing prereqs plus nutrition and human development, which I am now looking into doing at local community colleges. I would love to take them online (I work a full time 9-5), but can't do that if the courses are supposed to have labs.

    My tentative plan is to take the sciences one class at a time (prereqs of prereqs, etc) until I've got requirements done and I can apply to nursing school--this should take me about two years, less if my classes can be timed just right. My current job will end in August (it's temporary), at which point I'm leaning towards getting my CNA and finding a job in a hospital, if possible (looks possible even with little CNA/no experience in my area). This seems great because CNAs are in high demand in my area, though I might have to work in LTC at first (I am aiming to work in a hospital). I also want to take advantage of tuition reimbursement offered by employers; funding my education will not be easy as I make little now and won't make much as a CNA. I will be avoiding loans as much as possible. Should I perhaps work overtime as a CNA and save as much as possible? All while taking a class or two at any given time?

    Funding aside, my main concern is that I expect I will grow bored/restless if I am a CNA for 1-2 years of prereqs plus 2-3 years of nursing school (haven't decided on ADN then BSN or straight to BSN, or whether to go full time or part time, but will deal with all that later!). So, I'm trying to find a path which will still be reasonable as far as time and money it will take me to get to the eventual RN. I'm considering becoming an EMT-B (seems more interesting to me than being a CNA, pays a touch better, but has far fewer jobs and a schedule not as suited for taking classes); becoming an EMT then a CNA when I need a better schedule for taking classes; becoming a CNA then getting my EMT-B to become an ER tech (very few jobs available); becoming a CNA then becoming a phlebotomy or EKG tech; becoming a CNA then a LPN (most positions in the area are LTC, but LPN would help me financially) then a RN (only one LPN-RN bridge program nearby, and space is offered to regular ADN students first).... As you can see, I'm having a hard time deciding on which path to go with. I realize that just being a CNA for the duration is simplest, so I may do that, but I know that I tend to get restless when I'm not learning and doing something new.

    I apologize for the long-windedness of this. Any advice is greatly appreciated! I've read many, many threads similar to this one I'm posting (among others), and you seem like a wonderful, helpful bunch. J
  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   jennys77
    The easy CNA job. You will have enough to worry about just going to school! The BSN school I am going to go to suggests no more than 15 hours a week at a job because of the FT M-F load and a couple hours a day of studying. It's easier to work while you are taking pre-reqs. But those different paths are a lot of different trainings. Who has time for that? CNA to BSN (that's what I am doing).
  4. by   CelesteR903
    I'm a CNA while doing my prereqs and it's hard. I'm not sure why you think you'll get bored as a CNA it's not an easy job. I work at a long term facility and it is a little easier then the hospital because you know your residents and they schedules and likes and dislikes. You don't have a constant stream of new people. The main thing it is a very physical job so you will get worn down. I work the 2-10pm shift and go to school in the mornings. Once accepted into nursing school I switch to double weekends. Most of the nurses tell me not to try to work full time and go to nursing school. They say it's too overwhelming.
  5. by   Getting To Great
    We have a few things in common...I suggest going for your CNA or the advance CNA (PCT) that you mentioned. The CNA schedule works great because I find time to study while my residents are taking their nap. IMO I would go for the ADN or the accelerated BSN program (which ever you get accepted into first). The reason why I suggest the ADN program because it is affortable and a 5 semester long program: and once completed you can work and take you BSN courses on-line while you work. That should not take nomore then a semester and a half to two the most. Anyway, I suggest the CNA because you don't have to overwhlem yourself with so much studing like an LPN which requires so much. The point is doing really well in you prenursing courses and CNA will do the trick.
    Last edit by Getting To Great on Nov 11, '11
  6. by   lovelyb26
    you should do the CNA job but i think once your about a month into the program you will not want to work a job..I have two friends that were hired by the VA hospital in our area and they seriously only work maybe one weekend a month and even then they only go in that saturday because they are so busy with projects and group discussions and other things. Nursing school will be your life with little to spare
  7. by   Cortisol
    I'm not yet in nursing school, but my sister graduated with her BSN a few years ago. She was a CNA in high school and continued to work registry in college. This way she was able to schedule her work days around exams, papers, etc. She also worked full-time hours over the summer and when she was on break. Working full-time or even part-time during the semester was difficult. She chose to work less and focus on her grades. It must have worked because she got into an MSN program right away!
  8. by   Cortisol
    If you have a BA and a good GPA, why not apply to an entry level MSN program? If money is an issue, you'd be able to get more financial aid as a graduate student. You may not even have to work, or you could work registry at a hospital or LTC.

    Another option may be biting the bullet, taking out loans, and doing an accelerated BSN program. This way, you'd have a BSN in about 12-15 months.