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Are Certifications Necessary?

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by JayMal0110 JayMal0110 (New) New

Hi all,

I am in my first semester of an RN program at a 2 year community college in which I will then transfer and obtain BSN and continue to work my way to NP. My question is, I’m 25, I have no health field experience, I’ve only ever worked fast food and I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to get a job in the health field but I didn’t. I think it was because I felt like I would be wasting my time going for CNA, LPN, MA etc if I already knew I wanted to be an RN and had the grades to do it.

Now I am in sort of a rush to get some kind of a Certification and join the health field to gain some experience. I know it will be between 2-3 years before I’m an actual nurse and I can use this time gaining experience.

My plan was to join a CNA, EKG, phlebotomy course on the weekends to become a patient care tech while In nursing school, but I’m starting to think that will just be a waste of money and time. Will becoming a PCT and having these certifications in any way help my nursing resume?  Do they matter to employers?

Would it be better to just go for CNA and gain experience that way?  I know for grad school I need some type of experience. Will I get the best experience working as a PCT or CNA?

Any advice or input would be greatly appreciated even if it deviates from my initial plan.  I don’t really know what to do. 

Thank you 

NICU Guy, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 6 years experience.

Working as a PCA/PCT while going through nursing school will help you get an RN job after graduation, if you intend to work at that hospital (hospital system). First, you will be applying for RN jobs as an internal candidate and second, hiring managers will have more information about your work ethic when you are already an employee of the hospital.

Thank you for your response. So it would be better to just go for pct/PCA after getting my CNA certificate?  will I have a better chance of landing a job as an RN after graduation as a PCT than a CNA ? 
Just want to make sure I don’t waste time or money 

NICU Guy, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 6 years experience.

I would look at the job postings for the PCT at the hospital. If CNA is not required, then apply. I wouldn't get the CNA unless I wasn't having any success getting an interview without it.

On 9/1/2020 at 6:07 PM, JayMal0110 said:

... will I have a better chance of landing a job as an RN after graduation as a PCT than a CNA ?

[...]

Yes, this can be helpful.  In the nearly 15 years on my current unit, we have hired every one of our NAs or CSTs that applied for a position.

On 9/1/2020 at 6:07 PM, JayMal0110 said:

Thank you for your response. So it would be better to just go for pct/PCA after getting my CNA certificate?  will I have a better chance of landing a job as an RN after graduation as a PCT than a CNA ? 
Just want to make sure I don’t waste time or money 

You need to learn the trends in your area as far as how these are utilized. For example, around me CNAs mostly work in LTC. In acute care, we will hire people without any kind of certification (especially pre-nursing and nursing students) and train them into our NT/PCT/PCA roles.

And then, yes, if they have done very well in an NT role while in school they will be much more likely to be hired for RN openings. So IMO you should aim to get a PCT/PCA job in acute care.

PS - I searched around online after initally reading your post a few days ago and I see what is being charged for some of these certifications in some areas (also some of the programs were more lengthy than I would have expected).

I would be very leery about getting wrapped up in all of that unless it is absolutely required in order to get your foot in the door for an acute care  PCT/NT/PCA job in your area.

bitter_betsy, BSN

Specializes in Emergency / Disaster. Has 2 years experience.

Most of the time after you complete foundations, you don't need to sit for a CNA license - just do PCT.  Many PCTs get their first job on the floor where they worked.  Maybe work a float pool at first to figure out what you like.  Don't be fooled - it isn't the same.  What being a tech does is gets you familiar with where things are, how things work and attitudes of the people on the floor.  Its an entirely different skill set once you transfer to a nurse.  I wasn't a tech very long, but I rely on my techs because they know how to turn patients and get them all settled in their beds.  Cleaning up a patient and changing sheets with the patient still in the bed is certainly a skill and you don't learn that in school.  I learn stuff from my techs every day and I'm forever thankful for them.