Work as a CNA first?

  1. 2
    I am currently taking a nurse assistant course and will be finished the day before thanksgiving. I am supposed to take the state exam in December and I am pretty sure I'll pass It's actually a great experience and I am glad to be doing it now because it reassures me that I want to be a nurse. I know it's different than being an RN but I am learning to be quick and how to prioritize patient (resident) needs. Now I am debating on when I should start applying to work to have some experience to put on my resume. I still have two years left of pre reqs if I am only a part time student. Should I start right away or should I wait a year? I want to keep whatever job I have once accepted to an ADN program but only work a couple of weekends a month. Hunny wants me to stop working soon (retail) and just focus on my studies and the kids, but I know it's a competitive world out there.
    dmariemac and aaliyah23 like this.
  2. 8 Comments so far...

  3. 1
    A job may be helpful but consider it first of the year. Avoid the holidays for starting to work if you can.
    SoCaliCNA likes this.
  4. 1
    I am in the same boat as you, trying to figure out what should be my next step. Im taking a pct course and will be done in january. Congrats and keep the motivation lady ...
    SoCaliCNA likes this.
  5. 1
    Start your pre-reqs right away. Make sure you get a job first and then pick if you're going to school during the day or night so you don't have scheduling problems later. Good luck!
    SoCaliCNA likes this.
  6. 1
    Getting a hospital job as a CNA is a great way to get your foot in the door.
    SoCaliCNA likes this.
  7. 2
    I would say that you should try to get a job in a hospital as a CNA once you finish CNA school. It's precisely because there are often 2 lists for jobs: internal and external. If you're not an employee, you can only apply to the "external" jobs. It very much gets you a foot in the door by being an employee there. It also allows you to see from the "inside" whether or not you want to actually work there as an RN. You won't have the same responsibilities and whatnot, but you will make contacts and you'll see how the RNs are treated there. You'll also be a LOT better at the very basics of Nursing and won't have to think about doing those basic tasks, instead allowing you to concentrate on learning the "higher" level stuff better. The one major downside to being a working CNA is that it'll be difficult for you to change your mindset from being "just" a CNA to doing more and more critical thinking that Nurses are expected to do.
    Hygiene Queen and SoCaliCNA like this.
  8. 3
    When I was a student (long long time ago lol) I worked as an aid in an acute hospital on Friday and Saturday 3-11 shift. I was going for a BSN at the time and the hospitals would let you work as an aid once you finished med surg in your curriculum. To get the aid job, I volunteered in the ED for about 4 mos. to kinda get my foot in the door. The nurse's aid job helped my beat out hundreds of applicants to a student nurse externship once that opened up. All those experiences helped me land my first nursing job and I had recruiters calling me when I graduated (I know this doesn't happen any longer but it will help you get a job vs the applicant with no experience- and no, they won't consider your clinicals to be experience). I really honed my foley skills as an aid and depending where you work and what they allow aids to do, you will be able to excel in some of the more basic skills of nursing.

    Another tip, go make friends with the HR people in the hospital you are working in as an aid. Don't be shy. Talk to everyone. I worked as a Resource Pool aid. This means I floated between Telemetry, Med Surg, and Oncology. Sometimes I floated to another hospital in that chain. I talked to the managers on all these units and did a good job when I was there.
    Main Idea: If they like you they will want you to work there as a nurse.
    It is so competitive now days that sometimes just knowing someone and having friends is the way to get hired later as an RN.

    So to answer your question, no you don't have to be an aid before nursing school, you can work on getting a good gpa and then do the aid thing while in school. If you need to work anyways and the pay is better than what you would make otherwise, then yes you can go ahead and be an aid while doing your pre reqs. Either way, it will help you.

    P.S. I had a newborn and two toddlers in nursing school. You can do it! I thought poor me until I met a girl with 5 kids and doing well lol. One girl a semester ahead of me had 4 kids and did very well. All about time management and a good support system.
    Last edit by Sippie on Oct 14, '13
    aaliyah23, SoCaliCNA, and dmariemac like this.
  9. 1
    Yes! Working as a CNA is good for 2 reasons: 1- you get experience in different units which will help you to network, and also get a taste of the different floors so you can narrow down what area of nursing you want to do, and 2- being a CNA will give you a better attitude as a nurse. Some nurses treat CNA's like "the help".
    Start your pre-req's right away, some ADN programs only require a few courses in order to apply, so you could have them done in a semester! Every hospital I have worked at has been very lenient with work schedules for nursing students

    Good luck!!!
    SoCaliCNA likes this.
  10. 0
    Just an update, I spoke with my hunny and my mom (who helps me when possible) and have decided that at least for spring and summer 2014 just to catch up on some classes. My oldest is in a day treatment program and oh man he is exhausting! But before entering any nursing program I will get into a hospital somewhere. I like the idea of working two days a week @sippie and hope to find something like that.


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