CNA before RN?


hi everyone, this is my first post on this site and i was hoping you could provide some advice. i currently have a business degree and work in accounting, but have been contemplating going back to school for nursing for quite some time. i think it is something that i will enjoy; however, i am a little hesitant - probably because i already selected one career that didn't work out and that i don't enjoy at all. an RN i know suggested that i take a CNA course and work as a CNA for a bit before applying to nursing school to get a feel for the field. they warned that a CNA job is not an RN job, but thought that it would provide exposure to the environment and people and allow me to observe the process.

so, wanted to know what other RNs out there it wise to first "test-run" a CNA job to get a feel for the profession? has anyone done something similar? thanks!!

classicdame, MSN, EdD

2 Articles; 7,255 Posts

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

I can see where you would learn whether or not you like the environment and would be able to interview nurses about their responsibilities. Please understand the pay is low (too low in my opinion)

I am a Nursing student right now and I agree with classicdame the pay is very low, but it does get u use to the nursing environement. Its not the same job, but u can get a feel for if u was a LVN or RN how u would care for patients and how u would manage having a "caseload"

Dont get discouraged just because u already choose a career. Some people dont know right off the back that they want to go into nursing. Some people explore that career in there 40's, 50's 60's and above. I chose Medical Assistant, and I am beating myself up for not doing it then instead of waiting 5 years, but honestly my experience inspired me to become a Nurse and I am excited.

Nursing is a demanding major and it takes patience and determination to apply, get in and finish. Keep going it will definately pay off, but Im saying that to say you dont want to do all that to hate nursing so yes test the waters. I know some CNA schools are 3 weeks or a month. Sometimes 6 months so u should shop around.

Good luck



15 Posts

That's what I am doing! I have heard from a few people that if you were a CNA/PCA, you are much more comfortable at transitioning to being a nurse because of what you have observed and the experience you have in patient contact. Good luck with your choices and path!


59 Posts

Specializes in med-surg-tele-peds. Has 5 years experience.

I worked as a CNA Before I was a RN and while I was in nursing school.The pay is low but you will get used to working with patients and feeling comfortable with patients. If you work in a hospital or a nursing home,you will probably have a job there when you grad from nursing least you'll have your feet in the door. Also being a cna makes clinicals in school easier because you will be more comfortable working with patients...Good Luck!

Specializes in MSN, FNP-BC. Has 8 years experience.

Those of us that were techs or CNA's in my nursing class were consistently at the top just because of the exposure that we did get from our work.

I say go for it! It does give you an excellent view of what daily life is like for a nurse at work. You will also have contact with doctors, RT's, PT, OT, dietary, and all kinds of people working in the hospital. The hospital is NOTHING like it is portrayed on TV.

It's an experience I don't regret one bit! I feel that being a tech during school has helped make me a better nurse and has made the transition into the nurse role a little more gentle.