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How I used being a CNA to help me become a nurse


Specializes in Sub-Acute. Has 5 years experience.

A lot of people ask if being a CNA helps when it comes time to go to nursing school.

For me, being a CNA didn't help me in nursing school as much as it is helping me now that I"m a nurse.

For one thing, I used every moment I possibly could to learn while I was a CNA. I had some fantastic nurses who let me pick their brains and took me under their wings and taught me what they could.

I also put in the blood, sweat and tears and got hired at a hospital so I could continue learning. I remember a nurse at the LTC I was leaving asked me "what is there for you to learn as a CNA"?

Well, I got cross trained and worked as a clinical secretary as well, and I learned A TON. I got practice speaking to docs, because I had to page them to notify them of new patients. I learned "the language" because I had to be able to read orders to put them in the system.

Between that and working on the floor, I gained a lot of experience and skill that I don't have to worry about acquiring now, because I already have it. That lets me focus on developing my nursing skills, which I am so grateful for. I can't imagine being uncomfortable with the naked body or trying to figure out how to change a brief in addition to everything I have to remember and all the patients I have to treat and assess.

That, and my CNAs can't get anything past me because I have literally been there, done that. I also help them as much as I can, and I am sure to thank them for their hard work and dedication. They know they can come to me with any questions and they know they can ask me for help. We make a great team.

I agree with everything you said!

Working as a PCT definitely opened my eyes to what nursing really is all about and I'm glad I did it. It also helps tremendously with bedside manner and getting comfortable talking to patients. Now looking to land my first nursing gig!

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

My son, an LPN, and I both worked as CNAs before going into nursing, and it was very helpful to both of us. We learned good basic nursing skills and paid attention when the nurses taught us about assessment and care planning. Later on when we became nurses, we didn't ask our own aides to do anything we wouldn't do ourselves...we knew how hard they worked. My son is especially good at standing up for his aides when management doesn't treat them right or when a patient is rude to them, and he has earned their respect even though he's still a very new nurse. I'm so proud of him!


Specializes in Hospital medicine; NP precepting; staff education. Has 20 years experience.

For the same reasons mentioned I feel my prenursing health care roles made me more comfortable in the setting. I had a leg up on skills such as venipuncture and reading monitors. Likewise, my RN experience was invaluable prior to being a nurse practitioner. I am glad I didn't go to np school as a new nurse, that would have been a disaster.