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.