Ways to get patient-care experience before nursing school?

  1. The only pre-requisites I have left to apply to nursing programs are science (I have a previous bachelors so some stuff transferred). Since I also need A's in these courses, for me this means taking them one at a time -- for reasons that are a mixture of coming from a non-science background, having small kids and also trying to dis-entangle myself from my current profession.

    What's frustrating is, in the meantime, having no idea what actual hands-on patient care is like -- the overall medical world I'm working so hard to be part of. A lot of my classmates are medical assistants, LPNs, EMTs, etc. I envy their access to the "world of healthcare" and at times feel silly pursuing this RN fantasy coming from a 100% unrelated field.

    While I know my focus should be on mastering these pre-requisites as much as possible, scoring well on the TEAS, etc -- I also wonder if it would make sense to volunteer in some capacity? I don't have tons of time to commit to unpaid work, but would be willing to do what I can. Or should I invest in becoming a medical assistant (no idea what costs are for that) or start at the LPN route first?

    I think what interests me most is palliative care, but open to any ideas that would give me a hands-on experience (where I could also not be in the way of the "real" medical pros of course).

    Thanks for any ideas
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    About oneday_nursepoundcake

    Joined: Apr '18; Posts: 17; Likes: 12

    13 Comments

  3. by   Rionoir
    Taking a CNA course prior to starting nursing classes was a requirement at my school and it has been very beneficial even though I don't work as a CNA. We did six days of clinical as part of that and it really made me see that I was pursuing the right thing.
  4. by   oneday_nursepoundcake
    Thanks, Rionoir! Is CNA the same thing as a "medical assistant", or is it more specific to nursing?
  5. by   Rionoir
    CNA basically does all the dirty work. Literally. LoL Primarily they are trained to take vitals, help patients ambulate, toilet patients or change depends, and some minor procedures if they have been trained like blood sugars etc. Their salaries are pretty pathetic, but it is good experience even if you only take the training course. Many nursing students work as CNAs too due to the flexible scheduling and minimal training for entry.
  6. by   PediatricMA
    CNA- certified nursing assistant
    STNA- state tested nursing assistant

    They're both the same thing but I agree that its good to look into. I am a medical assistant now and I started as an STNA. Its a realllly tough job but its a very good and humbling way to start a nursing career.
  7. by   Glucagon
    Becoming a CNA could be a good idea, as you will work a lot with patients and could get some practical knowledge of diseases, etc. Becoming a CNA is also cheaper and faster than some other options. Though if you make more at your current job than you would as a CNA, I would probably stick with your current job and just volunteer. Some hospitals have volunteer positions that has patient interaction and will provide you free training for those things.
  8. by   oneday_nursepoundcake
    I'm really intrigued by the idea of the CNA route. I did ask my friend who works on the admin side of a big hospital about volunteering and she said I probably would not be able to have patient-care sort of contact that way (it would be more helping with paperwork or something).

    Now I'll investigate the CNA training more. With that license, would I be able to get part-time work fairly easily right out of training -- or is that also kinda hard to come by? I am of course also concerned about my age scaring people off, but would be nice to get used to working through that at the CNA level before investing so much into the RN path.
  9. by   Rionoir
    Pretty easy to find jobs where I am. They work in hospitals and long term care so there's a lot of different opportunities.
  10. by   CorCordium
    I did the CNA route before nursing school, worked as a CNA at hosptial during school, now I am an RN at a hospital. It was worth it for me, especially during clinicals.
  11. by   harvestmoon
    I mainly did this to finance my schooling, but I took Phlebotomy classes and I've been working in a clinic as a lab assistant (lab and patient side as well as EKGs) for a year now. Makes the schooling longer, but I hvae a decent pay rate ($17/hr) to get me through nursing school.
  12. by   shabish
    Quote from oneday_nursepoundcake
    The only pre-requisites I have left to apply to nursing programs are science (I have a previous bachelors so some stuff transferred). Since I also need A's in these courses, for me this means taking them one at a time -- for reasons that are a mixture of coming from a non-science background, having small kids and also trying to dis-entangle myself from my current profession.

    What's frustrating is, in the meantime, having no idea what actual hands-on patient care is like -- the overall medical world I'm working so hard to be part of. A lot of my classmates are medical assistants, LPNs, EMTs, etc. I envy their access to the "world of healthcare" and at times feel silly pursuing this RN fantasy coming from a 100% unrelated field.

    While I know my focus should be on mastering these pre-requisites as much as possible, scoring well on the TEAS, etc -- I also wonder if it would make sense to volunteer in some capacity? I don't have tons of time to commit to unpaid work, but would be willing to do what I can. Or should I invest in becoming a medical assistant (no idea what costs are for that) or start at the LPN route first?

    I think what interests me most is palliative care, but open to any ideas that would give me a hands-on experience (where I could also not be in the way of the "real" medical pros of course).

    Thanks for any ideas
    We sound like we're in a similar situation. I'm 41, married, 5 children and this will be a total career change for me. I am taking my pre-reqs at a local technical school one class (lecture/lab) per semester and will apply to nursing program in Jan 2019. I had a state program pay for me to become a CNA/PCT (certified nursing assistant/Patient care tech) A Patient Care Tech does everything a CNA does however they also do Phlebotomy and EKGs. I passed my state test for CNA 3/17, I'm in the PCT program now but I found my first CNA job 5/4. It's perfect because I only work Fridays right now (6p-6a) I work another full time job from home (Sat-Wed). I wanted a little experience and wanted to be sure I really enjoy direct patient contact ( I do!) I enjoy the work I do. It's at an assisted living facility. It's hard but I feel it's important. I like the patients I care for. If you're able to then try the CNA route first. I think it's a great way to find out if this nursing life is for you.
  13. by   BookishBelle
    There's a thing called nurse tech where you babysit patients, so I'm told. Doesn't require extra training and you can do it part time or prn. I have two friends doing that while in nursing school and they enjoy it, and feel like it has given them a window into the hospital.
  14. by   NurseSpeedy
    Quote from BookishBelle
    There's a thing called nurse tech where you babysit patients, so I'm told. Doesn't require extra training and you can do it part time or prn. I have two friends doing that while in nursing school and they enjoy it, and feel like it has given them a window into the hospital.
    Nurse tech where I am is typically a CNA with extra training for accuchecks, Foley caths, iv removal and simple dressing changes. Pay is slightly higher than a CNA at the hospital.

    We have a separate patient sitter position where someone sits with the patient if they are deemed a self harm issue or too confused to be left in a room without direct supervision. This one pays less than a CNA.

    Either job would give you a little insight to the nursing field but not really a true look at what you would be doing as the nurse. Plus, there are many other jobs in nursing outside of the hospital setting, or away from the bedside all together-although the later usually requires some initial bedside experience first.

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