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CNA before RN?

CNA/MA   (1,754 Views | 8 Replies)

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I'm trying to decide if I should become a CNA while a pre-nursing and later a nursing student. Right now I'm financially stable without working, so this would be solely for the experience. Is there much overlap between CNA and RN duties? Would I be learning and gaining experience in tasks that will help me later on? Is CNA experience taken into consideration when trying to land that first RN job? My initial plan was to focus completely on school, but here in my first semester of pre-reqs, I find myself with much more time on my hands than I anticipated. I feel like I could be doing more to set myself up for success in the future. I realize that school will get much harder once I get past some of the pre-reqs, but I don't know how much harder. I'm also seeing that many hospitals in my area tend to treat nursing students (with clinical rotation experience) the same as CNA's. I would also hate to find out that school workload will not allow for a job after after spending $800 out of pocket on a CNA course this summer, or even that the CNA course was not needed once I've completed some clinical rotations.

Sorry if this comes across as confused and unstructured, as I feel like I don't even know enough to know what questions to ask. What do you advise. What questions can I answer for you to help you to give me advice?

As an afterthought, I think it is worth mentioning that the program I am pursuing awards an ADN, allowing me to take the NCLEX, then continues on for two more years, awarding a BSN.

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Rose_Queen has 15 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in OR, education.

12 Followers; 4 Articles; 9,579 Posts; 111,604 Profile Views

Basically, everything a CNA can do is in the RN's scope of practice. However, these are duties that can be delegated to allow the RN to focus on tasks and assessments that cannot be delegated. The best way to know what an RN can and cannot do is to familiarize yourself with your state's nurse practice acts. Each state has its own, and some states allow more or less than others.

As for whether being a CNA is taken into consideration, that completely depends on the facility. Obviously, you cannot apply to any jobs stating you have experience, because you will have none as an RN. However, you can gain some insight into the role of a nurse, plus give yourself a record with a facility. Many facilities also list positions as being available to internal applicants for a certain amount of time before becoming public. Some also offer tuition reimbursement. So, the benefits of becoming a CNA can include more opportunity to apply for jobs, establishing an employment history with a health care facility where you can move into a nursing role, and tuition reimbursement instead of using student loans or savings.

You will find that many nursing students are working. Some may even work full time positions while attending school full time. Others may be full time employees and part time students. Still others may be part time employees and full time students. You need to find what works for you. Personally, I worked beyond full time (about 55 hours/week) through all but the last semester of nursing school; I chose to leave my job during the last semester so that I could fully concentrate on school. Granted, I was not negatively impacted by not having those benefits I mentioned earlier because I graduated in a time of "You haven't even graduated yet? Well, here's a job for when you do!"

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103 Posts; 2,118 Profile Views

You can learn a lot as a CNA, and the nurses who you will be working with May be able to show you/teach you things you can only read about in nursing school.

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TheCommuter has 14 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

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As Rose Queen stated, everything the CNA does is within the RN's scope of practice. CNAs feed, toilet, dress, bathe, shower, transfer, lift, and clean patients. They also make beds, empty wastebaskets, set up and pass out meal trays, and adhere to precautions for fall risk, aspiration risk, hips, knees, spinal conditions, seizures, and other processes. Essentially, the CNA assists the nurse by performing basic nursing care tasks.

I would not have survived for very long as a CNA because the job is brutally difficult on the body, underpaid, overworked, and disrespected. However, it will furnish you with valuable experience. It might also forge connections that will lead to your first RN job. Good luck to you!

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96 Posts; 3,246 Profile Views

Thanks for the responses. You could have easily told me to look up the myriad other threads on this very subject, but I wanted to hear it from nurses, not other students, and not CNA's. So it seems that I'll pick up valuable skills, which is a good enough reason for me. In addition to the skills, it sounds like it will provide a rather stout "gut check" to make sure this is something I really want to pursue. I can't imagine it being worse than burning poop, handling detainees, or assisting on MASCAL events, but you don't know the worst thing you've ever dealt with until you've dealt with it. Now I need to figure out when I can get in for a class. Wish I'd thought of this sooner, since I could be taking the course during the semester break, but it is full already. Anyway, thanks again.

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TheCommuter has 14 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

4 Followers; 226 Articles; 27,607 Posts; 321,290 Profile Views

Now I need to figure out when I can get in for a class. Wish I'd thought of this sooner, since I could be taking the course during the semester break, but it is full already.
Be mindful that your local Red Cross may offer free or very low-cost CNA traning programs. In addition, many nursing homes offer free CNA training and certification if you agree to work at the nursing home for six months.

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96 Posts; 3,246 Profile Views

Be mindful that your local Red Cross may offer free or very low-cost CNA traning programs. In addition, many nursing homes offer free CNA training and certification if you agree to work at the nursing home for six months.

Thanks for the tip. I was only looking at CC's and tech schools.

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nursefromcali has 6 years experience and specializes in Ambulatory, Corrections, SNF, LTC, Rehab.

245 Posts; 7,066 Profile Views

As long as you love you job, whether you're a CNA/tech/aide you can work like that til you become a nurse. Nursing is a life style. The more you love your job the more you learn a lot and grows a lot as a nurse. :)

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LaterAlligator has 2 years experience and specializes in geriatrics, dementia, ortho.

239 Posts; 4,846 Profile Views

I've been a CNA for about 5 years now, and continue to work as one at my local hospital while I'm in my ADN program. I find that my experience has been incredibly helpful with school so far. Also, one of the only ways to get hired at my hospital as a new grad nurse is by working there in a different role first to build up seniority. I say go for it! And expect your time in LTC to be hellish. It's a trial-by-fire but you'll learn prioritization and speed quickly.

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