CNA During Nursing School Worth It?

  1. Hello everyone! This site has been so helpful but I have a couple questions. I am 20 years old, married, and have an 8 moth old premie. My degree plan has always been for nursing. I will be doing an ADN program and it is based on a point system. I will have taken everything required for the ADN and the BSN program at the sister school since all credits transfer there and I can take them cheaper at my current school. I have no doubt I'll be accepted after this semester for the Fall 2019 program as I've waited to submit until I also had the BSN requirements. (Yay!) When we apply there is a 1 semester in between and I was thinking of doing my CNA certifications at that time. Is it worth it? I'm currently a stay at home mom. I would do the CNA gig to pay for the day care I needed during nursing school. It would also give me experience and some hospital here offer tuition reimbursement for employees and free child care while we are at work. Just not sure what to do with my daughter while I'm in class/clinicals and this seemed to be an option. Opinions? Advice? Was it worth it for you if you did it during nursing school??
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    About GKursteiner1097

    Joined: Jun '18; Posts: 3
    from TX , US

    8 Comments

  3. by   brownbook
    If you have no, or very little, exposure to what a CNA, MA, PCT, LVN, or RN does, or what working in a hospital or skilled nursing facility is like. Little exposure to patient care, etc. Then I think being a CNA is a great idea. My early years as a RN would have been sooooooo much easier if I had worked as a CNA. Take to long to explain all the whys of that.

    CNA pay is very low. If, or how, you will afford child care, I don't know. If you have support, a partner or family close by, the hours of most nursing job, 24/7 can make it easier to work around children's needs with little need for paid child care.

    You may be able to work only weekends as a CNA while your partner does child care. You may be able to work extra help, 2 -3 nights a week if family can watch the kid and allow you to get some sleep during the day.

    Working as a CNA in a poorly managed skilled nursing facility can be awful. A terrible exposure to what nursing is in it's worst manifestation. There are well staffed, well run, skilled nursing facilities. As with many jobs, even acute care hospitals, there are good places to work and horrible places to work.
  4. by   popopopo
    I did PCA work during school and I'm also from Texas. From what I remembered, if you had one semester of nursing school, the places I worked waived the PCA certificate.

    I was really clueless at the time, but landed a job at a big name hospital. I really think that brand name hospital influenced my chances in getting my first job interview because I was a very average student. If you work at a place you like, show the staff that you can work hard, it's going to be easy as pie when you apply for your first RN job.
  5. by   Pearlgirl
    If you already work at a hospital and they would reimburse the course at approximately $1,500 or more, go for it. There are many hoops to jump, however, including pre-qualifications, required uniforms and equipment. Once through the course, pass online questions and demonstrate skills for instructor. This, and starting out as a new CNA may be more stress than anticipated as you will have a state certification on file. You would learn much in class and on-the-job at low earnings. My experience is that many other occupations with less requirements pay much more! If you work in a hospital you may learn just as much without the rigorous class schedule and testing. It's much to uphold for $9-$11 an hour. Best wishes.
  6. by   Orion81RN
    I can't express enough how worth it I think it is. Like a previous poster, it would be pretty lengthy to get into all of the why's, but I could give you a few. (Ok, this turned out lengthy anyway) Oh, and I want to mention that as a patient care tech, here in Chicagoland, at least at the hospital I worked for, pay was 14 an hour and that was 7 years ago. Phlebotomy and performing EKGs included in training. But that's not everywhere! Beware. You don't get an actual "certificate" for that training, but you do get to work at that hospital, being a CNA, with the title of Patient Care Tech. And I got to work every unit. From ER to ICU, Mother/Baby, telemetry, neuro, peds....I worked it all for 3 years.

    When you graduate nursing school and start working in the real world, away from NCLEX world, there is going to be enough newness to leave your head spinning. As a CNA, get experienced dealing with challenging patients and family members in a medical setting. Master the art of communicating with grieving family and patients, and allll the stages of it including anger that is sometimes directed at YOU. Learn that even when they chew your head off, it's not about you or how good or lousy you are of a CNA. Get that experience in before you have enough to deal with as a new nurse. Get the rewarding experience too. Human interaction with people at their most vulnerable.

    When I first started, it was as a sitter. I was CNA certified and provided care in the hospital for one patient at a time. Often someone with dementia who maybe broke a hip and kept forgetting that they couldn't stand. So they would repeatedly try to and of course get very agitated. It was my job to use therapeutic communication to keep them safe, and to the nurse's benefit, CALM. What I learned was absolutely invaluable. Patience. It takes a LOT of patience as a nurse to give 10 meds to your patient and have them take them one by one asking over and over, now what does this one do again... when you have multiple patients waiting for you.
    It takes patience as a nurse to listen to heated complaints that are beyond your control (again while other patients are waiting for you) all while still showing empathy.

    I had a fellow nurse ask me one time, in the midst of chaos, "How do you stay so calm?!" (This had to be before I did snap once and punch a door as others on here have heard LOL....but at least I did it away from the entitled doctor-patient who drove me to it. They were none the wise I wanted to give them pillow therapy) ;-) Practice, my dear grasshopper. Practice. Get that experience in. If doable, then do it even if all the money goes toward childcare for the time you are gone.The experience was that invaluable to me, that it wasn't just about the pay.

    Good luck! If you read through this entire thing.
  7. by   KierstenElizabeth
    I think it is a great idea to do that.

    I was not a CNA, but man...when I was in clinical, these people know what they are doing. If I needed to know anything, or needed help with a patient, they were solid gold. They work SO hard, and learn so much, I was far more comfortable helping them with care and comfort. The CNA's in our nursing cohort were super smart, and always did well. Good luck in whatever you choose!
  8. by   aniretake
    I am a pre-nursing student and I am volunteering as a CNA at a local hospital in ED. It is a great help - learning a lot
  9. by   kaygiiirl
    You learn so much as a CNA that will be helpful to your nursing education. I would recommend getting some kind of hands-on experience if you can. I work in the hospital as a CNA and where I live, the pay is much better than that of a nursing home or senior living center. Nursing homes are required to start PCA's at $11-12, whereas a hospital can start you at $15. I started at $18 due to having prior experience.

    I love the exposure I get in the hospital and the nurses have been super helpful at answering my questions. Whether it's about the process of treating a patient or nursing school related stuff.
  10. by   Lemon Bars
    I worked as a nurse aide without the CNA certification (I had an EMT-B certification instead). I think that nurse aide/patient care tech experience is valuable but I recommend trying to avoid paying for the CNA unless you can get it cheap at a community college. Nurse aides are typically overworked and underpaid and it gets old real fast. There are some other jobs that you might consider to get some experience such as monitor tech, medical scribe and unit secretary. Paying for a training course to be "certified" in doing very basic patient care for $12 an hour seems like a bad joke to me.

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