Benefits to being CNA before nursing school?

  1. I really need help! I have a bachelor's degree so I am going to do an accerlated BSN program. I have 4 classes I need to take this summer/fall, then I can apply in December. I would be applying for the summer 2008 program, but would defer until Jan 2009 program because the summer program is at hospitals that are 2 hours from me, as opposed to 1 hour or closer in the winter program.

    I have a friend who is a CNA at the hospital I want to work at while she's waiting to eventually get accepted to the Assoc. program at the comm. college here. She says that they are looking for more people and pay $10-11/hr. I currently do home daycare, so that amount for me working full time at the hospital would be slightly less than now after taxes and paying for my 4 yr twins to be in daycare part time. If I want to take the CNA class, I'd have to quit my daycare in Sept. because it is only offered in the day and (assuming they are still hiring) could start at the hosp. in Jan. and work for 1 year until I started the nursing program.

    How beneficial do you think working as a CNA for a year would be before starting the nursing program? Do you think telling them I could work for 1 year until nursing school starts would be a plus or minus for me? I hate to miss the final year I'd have with my sons at home (and it would be tight financially) so I really want to know if anyone thinks that it is really worth it.

    Sorry this was so long and I greatly appreciate any advice anyone has!
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    About kellia

    Joined: Feb '07; Posts: 22

    13 Comments

  3. by   Kiringat
    I don't have my CNA and until about a month ago, I really regretted it. The CNAs in our class really had a huge advantage when we were doing CNA-level work. Just with basic and personal care, they had a giant flipping advantage.
    HOWEVER, now that we're working on a med/surg floor at an LPN to RN level, it seems like our CNAs are having a harder time at it. I don't know if its the role change or what, but they're more stressed and have a harder time getting through the day.
    I think it would be more helpful to be a unit secretary over the summer. That way, you get to see in-depth how a nursing unit is run and you also get a very close look at how the nurses organize and get through the day.
    And thats my 2 cents...
  4. by   dorselm
    Hello,

    It's definitely beneficial to have that experience as a CNA but not required. I too have a BS in Business and an Associates in Accounting. I was an accountant for 8 1/2 yrs before entering the nursing field. I took a CNA job which is paying me less than half of what I used to make as an accountant. I work in a nursing home and it is hard work let me tell you. But, I am gaining valuable experience in the medical field, I will have this on my resume and be able to say I have healthcare experience when it's time to get a job and I will know how to teach CNA's when it is time for me to become a nurse. Do you need it to get through school? No, does it help, yes if you've never been exposed to the health field or with directly working with patients. You have to weigh the pros and cons before making the decision.
  5. by   Spidey's mom
    I went back to school at 38 after majoring in Social Work the first time around in college.

    My mentor, a very wise and helpful nurse who taught in nursing school and has her Masters advised me NOT to take a CNA course and work as a CNA prior to school. The following are points she made to me.

    1. You learn all the things CNA's do with basic and personal care of patients when you start school. Why pay an additional cost to learn something you are going to learn anyway?

    2. You are about to embark on a long and time-consuming process to become an RN and my mentor encouraged me to spend the summer with my family instead of going to a CNA class.

    3. There is a different mindset between being a CNA and being a nurse and transitioning can be difficult -as one other poster has mentioned.

    Now, for you personally I think continuing to do daycare keeps you with your children and I think that is better than putting them in a daycare which will increase your costs and keep you from being with them.

    There are many threads on this issue - do a search and read on . . .

    As to whether being a CNA makes you a better nurse, I don't think it is necessary to be a good nurse. What makes you a good nurse is your work ethic, your values, your ability to work with a team, etc.

    I've met many nurses who were CNA's who did not help out with personal care after becoming an RN. That is NOT to say that this always happens. But it also means that someone can't say that it is always beneficial to be a CNA first.

    I had no medical background and did fine in school w/o taking a CNA class. You can too.

    Good luck and best wishes.

    steph
  6. by   dorselm
    Also wanted to add that many students not just CNA's will have a hard time with med/surg because it's a difficult clinical altogether from what I'm told. If you are a CNA it doesn't mean that you will know everything about nursing, why then would you be in school? It just means that when it comes to working with patients you will have experience working with them and you won't be intimidated to see them naked or to assist them with activities of daily living such as bathing, feeding and toileting. Some CNA's learn more skills depending on where you work. At my job, I can put on a colostomy bag on my patients but I can't suction people who have trachs, and I can't insert a foley cathether either but there is a position higher than a CNA but under an LPN called Patient Care Tech and they can do these things so when you're working in a hospital, you may be able to advance to that position.

    Oh and I meant that I will be able to know what a CNA goes through and have more respect for them when I'm in a nursing position. I don't know where teaching came from.
  7. by   dorselm
    One more thing to note, I didn't have to pay to be a CNA because my job gave me paid training and paid for me to take the test for certification. I had to take this job because I am going to school full-time and needed work to pay my bills so I figured why not get experience in the health field. You already have a job so you don't need to do to take classes for CNA. If you have to pay to be a CNA then I say don't do it. Your situation is also different because you have the cost of daycare to think about and the fact that you have little ones. For you, I agree with the previous poster in that I would want to spend more time with the kids. CNA is not something that you have to do, you are wanting to know if you need to do it to get through school and the answer is definitely no. However,
    I know countless of people who are scared out of their minds about seeing someone naked and I know that I was too. At first, I didn't think I could do it but as time went on it got easier.
    Also, At my job, we have student nurses all the time and the ones who have not had CNA experience have a hard time in the beginning. There are also countless nurses at my job who have never been CNA's and don't appreciate the work we do. They don't help out if a patient needs help. They think "oh the CNA can do it" and they would rather run around trying to find a CNA to do something like help a patient get out of bed rather than just do it themselves. We are understaffed just like they are but they think CNA work is beneath them. When I am a nurse I will not have that attitude because I know the hard CNA's work. Last week, a patient had to have a colostomy bag put on so I got the nurse to come help me because the patient didn't have anymore bags. She had feces all over her and her bed. The nurse could have told me where the bags were and had me put it on, clean her and change the bed but she said, don't worry I'll be there in a minute. I'll change the bag and clean her as best I can and then you can come do the rest. I asked if she needed help and she said she'll page me if needed. I left that room thinking that's the kind of nurse I want to be!

    As long as you are in nursing to care for people and as long as you are a person who conducts your life with high integrity and are organized and determined to be the best nurse and best advocate for your patients, then you will do fine whether you have CNA experience or not.
  8. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from dorselm

    Oh and I meant that I will be able to know what a CNA goes through and have more respect for them when I'm in a nursing position. I don't know where teaching came from.
    I do know and appreciate what CNA's do - the only thing you do in clinicals initially is patient care (CNA) stuff . . bedbaths, vital signs, showers, changing linens, etc.

    Our staff members all work together as a team. The CNA and RN or LVN all go into the patient's room together at the beginning of the shift (I work 3 a.m. to 3 p.m) and as the CNA does vitals the nurse does a physical assessment. We help them get up to a stand-up scale and at that time their skin integrity can be checked out. Prior to breakfast, the CNA will take the patient to the shower and I will change the bedding. I help pass breakfast trays too. Of course this might change if my role as an RN is too busy - this happens rarely though, that we can't help at all. We all answer call bells and if the CNA is busy in another room, we help pts up to bedside commodes, empty urinals, etc. I've never seen a nurse go into a room and have the patient ask to go to the bathroom and then go out to find a CNA. They help the patient up.

    About 1/2 of the RN's I work with started as CNA's and then went to LVN school and then bridged to RN. The other 1/2 went straight to RN. We have a good teamwork ethic.

    steph

    EDITED . . . just read your post about nurses not helping where you where and I'm truly sorry about that . . . .
  9. by   laurainri
    Before I started nursing schol I was never a CNA. I worked as a waitress and owned a restaurant. Lots of prioritizing just on a different level and a fast paced environment. I did though beforoe I started nursing school take a physical assesment class that the school offered. It was great !.. I think that was harder to learn than how to make a proper bed. you learn what to listen for on the lungs, a head to toe assesment. The first few weeks they teach you how to make a bed, give a bed bath it is really not that difficult. I am sure that you could practice at home learning how to roll a pt. in bed and make one with a person in it. How to properly use pillows as supports. Maybe you can have your friend help you before you start get the basics down. you are already going to need a steth, so for about another $25 you can get a bp cuff and practice taking vitals. My husband was a great subject and anybody else who came over to the house. I practiced on them all. Get a fluid & electrolytes book and read that which will make youo pull your hair out in schol so get a leg up on that. learn lab values and what they mean when they ate not normal. This would be more beneficial to you if you have the discipline to work on it yourself. Good luck
  10. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from laurainri
    Before I started nursing schol I was never a CNA. I worked as a waitress and owned a restaurant. Lots of prioritizing just on a different level and a fast paced environment. I did though beforoe I started nursing school take a physical assesment class that the school offered. It was great !.. I think that was harder to learn than how to make a proper bed. you learn what to listen for on the lungs, a head to toe assesment. The first few weeks they teach you how to make a bed, give a bed bath it is really not that difficult. I am sure that you could practice at home learning how to roll a pt. in bed and make one with a person in it. How to properly use pillows as supports. Maybe you can have your friend help you before you start get the basics down. you are already going to need a steth, so for about another $25 you can get a bp cuff and practice taking vitals. My husband was a great subject and anybody else who came over to the house. I practiced on them all. Get a fluid & electrolytes book and read that which will make youo pull your hair out in schol so get a leg up on that. learn lab values and what they mean when they ate not normal. This would be more beneficial to you if you have the discipline to work on it yourself. Good luck
    My family were great sports too - I practiced on them all the time. It was nice.

    steph
  11. by   abundantjoy07
    It was required for us to take the CNA class and earn our license before being accepted into the nursing program.
    Did it help? Maybe. I don't know. What you learn in nursing school is much more intensive than what you learn as a CNA. I feel that most of the care CNA's gives is common sense. It might help you to become more comfortable in patient care. And it might help you to appreciate the work that CNAs do.
    If you want to be a licensed CNA then go for it. It wont hurt anything.
  12. by   marilynmom
    First off you should know that CNA work is VERY hard work, it is nothing like the work of RN's and I wouldn't do it again personally. I worked as a CNA float all over the hospital (but mainly on med/surg type floors.....oncology, med/surg, ortho/neuro, etc) and I hated it.

    I personally wouldn't quit the good thing you have going on now (being with your kids, home daycare, etc) to work as a CNA. That is just my opinion but since you asked

    Did working as a CNA give me a advantage over the other students who were not CNAs....for a couple of weeks sure (I could take a fast BP, clean a patient, make an occupied bed, etc). But there has been no long term advantage, most of the students in my nursing class are now working as techs anyways (which I WOULD recommend after your first year of nursing school!).
  13. by   Esther2007
    I am working now as a student tech, which is almost like a CNA. As soon as I start Psychiatric nursing in the fall, I will quit. I feel like I am stuck doing fundamental of nursing stuff. I would not recommend anyone to pay for CNA class because after you finish nursing 101, you can work as a CNA.
  14. by   shleynic
    I have been a CNA for 8 years and I am finishing up my first semester of nursing school. As of yet I have not had any problems r/t the fact that I am a CNA. I have noticed that it is a change to begin to start to think like a nurse. However, I have been very open to learning things the way they are teaching them....which is sometimes different than I have learned things in the past. There are a lot of benefits to this position prior to nursing school. Its a good position to have while in nursing school because most employers are very flexible with your schedule.

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