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CNA before nursing


Do you think it should be a requirement to have obtained your cna before entering nursing school?

I don't necessarily think that it should be a requirement, but I think it's a really good idea. I was a CNA before I was a nurse and that helped me a lot in nursing school.

Requirement? No, don't think it's at all necessary, as everything taught to become a CNA is taught in first semester nursing programs. HOWEVER, I think if I had been a CNA first, it would have helped me to become a more competent student faster, and certainly would have helped my self-confidence in the ADL arena :)

No, I don't think it should be a requirement. As RNsRWe mentioned, you learn all that in first semester of nursing school.

I was a second-career nursing student. I was advised not to take a CNA class before school started in the Fall but to simply enjoy my family all summer and relax.

It didn't hurt me at all. Our CNA's and RN's are a team. We all work well together.

You have to do what you think would be best for you but I'm grateful I didn't take the CNA class before and don't think it should be a requirement.

chevyv, BSN, RN

Specializes in Gero Psych, Ortho Rebab, LTC, Psych. Has 20 years experience.

I'm not sure if the thinking behind needing to become a CNA is really as thought out in real life as it looks on paper. I was a CNA for many years before becoming a nurse. The experience really helped me in nursing school and my career. The idea of having students become CNA certified, I was told, was that many schools don't have the time to teach the fundamentals such as bathing, feeding, general ADL's, and even collecting vitals. Just getting that certification doesn't mean a whole lot if a person doesn't use it to get comfortable touching and caring for a pt in the basic sense. In many tech schools in WI, you have to become CNA certified before you can get into nursing school.

workinmomRN2012, BSN

Has 9 years experience.

I think it's a really good idea. It helped me a lot, especially to be comfortable with patients and what generally needs to get done. How can a nurse work with an aid and be able to direct the aides as to patient care if they haven't done it. It helped me to see the whole picture of what needs to get done and when. Some people might not need this but I thought it was very helpful. This way I knew the aides job and the RN's job. I was more well rounded.


Has 4 years experience.

I hear a lot of nursing schools are starting to have CNA cert as a pre req/requirement. I think it is a good idea.

My goal is to become an RN but I decided to do a CNA training first & I am happy I decided to take this route...it really is giving me a good look at nursing from the trenches & giving me hands on experience doing routine nursing skills & building my bedside manner/patient care skills. I definitely feel the CNA training has been a good and valuable stepping stone to my nursing career.

It's a very touchy subject though. I think it's going to be nothing but helpful to me as I grow in the nursing field but others may not feel the same way and that's fine. :-)

The most important thing to remember is to do what works for you and what you think will help you succeed.

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

Becoming a CNA before being a nurse was one of the best investments of time I ever spent. I worked summers and weekends at the hospital while I was in nursing school, and I learned all kinds of things I would probably have struggled with had I not had that experience, e.g. prioritizing and managing competing demands. I don't think CNA certification ought to be required, but it is extremely helpful and it does give you a leg up when you start nursing fundamentals.

My own experience is different Viva my friend. Becoming a CNA first would not have made me a better nurse.

But this has to be decided on an individual basis. It certainly doesn't hurt anything to be a CNA first. But you can be a great student and a great nurse and a true team player without doing that.

I really don't think it should be required.

Edited to add . . . this has been a question since I joined AN a long time ago. Many many threads have been written about it.

I don't think it should be required, but it was definitely helpful and gave me am advantage over my classmates. There were a lot of times they would come to me during basic nursing clinicals asking for help with skills because they were honestly lost. I'm pretty sure though that the Basic Nursing area of nursing school covers most CNA skills, and a lot of people are able to test as a CNA of they want after they have completed basic nursing!


Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology. Has 2 years experience.

Our program requires it before starting. Now, that said, there's a difference between having your cert and actually having WORKED as a CNA. I think there's some benefit to working as a CNA prior to and during nursing school, but I don't think it should be required.

Nurse Kyles, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cath Lab & Interventional Radiology. Has 7 years experience.

CNA class, not certification, is required to be on the waiting list at the technical college in my area. It is required for most of the health programs including Rad Tech & Sonography. I think it is good that it is required, because it is a little pre-test as to how you will handle gross situations as a nurse. I literally had a patient poop in my hand during my CNA clinical. At that point I knew that the gross stuff wouldn't be a problem for me. I do not think that a person should be required to work as a CNA though. I spent my years in my ADN program working in a distribution center. I had bills to pay, and I could not pay my mortgage with CNA pay. I actually I think working with and relating to people in that factory type environment has really helped me in my nursing practice.

NurseGirl525, ASN, RN

Specializes in ICU.

No, I do not think it should be required. You learn what you need in the few weeks anyway. My nursing fundamentals class is 4 weeks. We then hop right into med/surg I for the rest of the semester. I don't need help knowing whether or not I have chosen the right career or how I will handle "smells". I can deal. For some people, maybe it is good to find out, but I honestly don't need to so I don't think it should be required. And getting certified ahead of time does equal working as a CNA. Huge difference.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

I do not think that CNA training should be required before enrolling in nursing school.

The thought processes behind the two roles are like apples and oranges, meaning they're both fruitful, but drastically different. The CNA role is strictly task-oriented, whereas licensed nursing care requires a specific mode of operation if one is going to succeed.

Someone gave an example about baths a while back. Bathing and showering are within the scopes of practice of CNAs, LPNs and RNs.

The CNA is bathing with the focus of efficiently completing the task, maintaining the patient's personal hygiene, upholding safety and promoting comfort.

The LPN is bathing with the focus of collecting relevant patient data and synthesizing it into useful information and knowledge (How's the skin turgor? Are any new wounds or skin tears present? Is the patient alert and oriented? Was the patient's gait steady when I walked with him into the shower?).

The RN is bathing with the focus of formulating and/or revising the patient's care based on the nursing process facets of assessment, diagnosis, planning, intervention and evaluation.

In addition, it is not always true that the best nurses once worked as CNAs. My best friend is an example of this, having worked as a CNA before becoming an LPN, then an RN. During her floor nurse days she would sit at the nurses station and sip coffee while repeatedly stating "I don't want to wipe asses," as call lights rang incessantly. She is now a chief nursing officer with a six-figure salary and is pleased she no longer has to work at the bedside.

mmc51264, ADN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in orthopedic; Informatics, diabetes. Has 9 years experience.

Ours required it. I had my CNA II (I think it is a NC thing) where I could insert Foleys, removed PIV, suctioning (not deep), established trach care, PEG tube feeds. Most of the skills we had to learn in Nursing school, I had already been doing. Only had to learn PIV insertions.

applewhitern, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU. Has 30 years experience.

I don't think it is necessary. I never worked in any type of medical/nursing environment until I graduated nursing and got my license. As a matter of fact, my nursing school would not allow us to work at all during the first semester of nursing classes.

All of the nursing schools in my area do require you to have your CNA before you get accepted. I worked as one for many years before I became an RN & I feel it gave me an advantage over the others in my clinicals during school. I only say this because it seemed that those of us who were CNAs, were a lot less intimidated by patient care and procedures during clinicals.