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Need advice badly.

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in Hospice, Med/Surg, ICU, ER.

Hi all!

Currently, I'm a brand new CNA, and I start LPN clinicals on 9 JAN. My plan is to immediately start a LPN to ASN/RB bridge program as soon as I pass the NCLEX-PN. Let me add that I am a former military medic and civilian EMT.

Here's the question: Once I start LPN clinicals, I'll have weekends and and one weekday night free. I've been offered a night shift CNA job on a med/surg floor at my local hospital, but it would be a slight pay cut from what I am doing now. They say they will be happy to work around my school schedule.

Is the experience I'll gain be worth the stress? Would I be better off staying in my non-med job while in school?

BeenThereDoneThat74, MSN, RN

Has 25 years experience. Specializes in Pediatrics.

what do you do now??

as a emt and a military medic, you probably do not need the experience, although each of these things are different. it couldn't hurt, but will it help you that much? assuming you are comfortable with patient contact, and basic skills (vital, assessment, etc), i don't see the need for you to do it. if you're looking to get your foot in the door, well, that's another story.

clee1

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in Hospice, Med/Surg, ICU, ER.

Thanks, Bone....

I was thinking more "foot in the door" as well as different experiences. Currently, I am the night shift auditor/IT guy for a large car dealership chain. It pays OK, but it has absolutely nothing to do with medicine.

I am completely comfortable with patient contact and the "basics". In fact I was at the top of my class all the way through prereqs and during CNA clinicals, the instructor had me assisting her with keeping an eye on the rest of the students. So no, I am ambivilent about the "need" to work as a CNA; and I wouldn't do so at all in a LTC environment. However, I figured work in a hospital would be helpful. The question boils down to: is the experience gained worth the additional stress?

bluesky, BSN, RN

Has 4 years experience. Specializes in Critical Care, ER.

If you are an EMT-Paramedic, that experience far exceeds anything you will have in the hospital as a CRNA except perhaps getting to know the environment. If your non-medical job is higher paying and equally accomodating (especially if you have downtime to study), I would keep it without a doubt.

Hey Clee1

I'll take the opposite side. It's been hard for several new LPNs that I know (one is my wife) to get their 'foot in the door' (as you say). The jobs aren't out there looking for you as a brand-new LPN, it seems. Having contacts and the trust and respect of people you've worked with while in school: Priceless.

Papaw John

clee1

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in Hospice, Med/Surg, ICU, ER.

If you are an EMT-Paramedic, that experience far exceeds anything you will have in the hospital as a CRNA except perhaps getting to know the environment. If your non-medical job is higher paying and equally accomodating (especially if you have downtime to study), I would keep it without a doubt.

I was an EMT-A, about 17 years ago. I have been in IT ever since. However, as a military medic, I did all kinds of things that not even civilian RNs do. The rule in the military is "to the limits of your training", and I made it a point to be trained in everything I could.

My non-med job is higher paying and very accommodating.

clee1

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in Hospice, Med/Surg, ICU, ER.

Hey Clee1

I'll take the opposite side. It's been hard for several new LPNs that I know (one is my wife) to get their 'foot in the door' (as you say). The jobs aren't out there looking for you as a brand-new LPN, it seems. Having contacts and the trust and respect of people you've worked with while in school: Priceless.

Papaw John

That was my thinking as well. It it worth the stress of a med/surg floor grunt job while in LPN clinicals, in your opinion?

Let me say that I am a type-A personality. I thrive under a level of stress that would kill most folks. I have a letter of recommendation from the RN in charge of my CNA clinicals as well as one from the MD that was the instructor of my A&P classes.

My worry is that I'll give short shift to either school or my patients while trying to do both well, and would have given up my decent non-med job in the process.

Daytonite, BSN, RN

Has 40 years experience. Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt.

You will learn everything you need to know in your nursing classes. If your current job is satisfying all your needs right now and you know for sure they are going to work with you when it comes to your school schedule, I would stay where you are. I know it does sound attractive to work as a CNA, but consider this. You will have to work holidays, you will probably get called to come in to work when they need help. You don't really know that they are going to keep their promise insofar as a work schedule is concerned. You know what you can expect from the job you have now. Anyway, I don't think it's a good idea to be thinking about nursing all your waking hours (school and job). Everybody needs a break. I know that it sounds attractive that working for a hospital gets your foot in the door for after you graduate, but that's not necessarily true. You would still have to apply for an LPN position and go through the job application process. If they have no openings for LPN, you will be SOL. Now, the one thing that is good about hospital employment is that they often have tuition reimbursement. Would you be able to qualify to receive it as a part time employee, however?

Antikigirl, ASN, RN

Has 13 years experience. Specializes in Education, Acute, Med/Surg, Tele, etc.

EMT and Nursing are different animals to be sure. Trust me, my hubby is a paramedic after being a Navy Corpman. He debates going to RN school every now and then, then he hears about my day and enjoys his work more and more..LOL!!!! (in fact, I would rather do EMT/Paramedic personally...more my style of medical!).

I guess he says the biggest differences is the fact that he has protocols and doesn't have to ask a doc to do any little thing...he has more autonomy than I do (yeah, just ask an RN about upping oxygen without an order...LOL!). Dealing with families is more involved and stressful and longer than being EMT/Paramedic. And he also said all those ADL's (feeding, bathing, clothing, etc.) is something he will never miss in his daily routine being a paramedic! And having to deal directly with administration and MD's all day...he said "you can have it hon!". LOL!

To gain this experience, clinicals are your best choice. School will teach you all about these differences in the professions and the EMT will be an added benifit to you for sure when it comes to some tasks/understanding! Working as a CNA will give you more of an understanding of dealing with a "whole person' not just a patient...however you can also gain that experience via clinicals.

It is up to you how much patient care you wish to endure day after day really. Do you want a full day at clinicals just to turn around and do more? Also, be aware that you will be learning things you can not do on patients out of clinicals...so you have to be careful not to step over that line of work and school...that can be stressful.

Good luck to you! And thank you for your service :)

bluesky, BSN, RN

Has 4 years experience. Specializes in Critical Care, ER.

My first thought is, why not get your RN right away?

Most of the CNA positions I have witnessed have not required too many nursing skills (exception long term care where they are the nurses for all intensive purposes). You help with bedbaths, stocking, that's it. Most ERs do use their techs at higher skill levels requiring them to do IV starts and splinting- maybe some triage and discharges but many ERs like experience (recent) and/or LPN backround already.

clee1

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in Hospice, Med/Surg, ICU, ER.

My first thought is, why not get your RN right away?

Most of the CNA positions I have witnessed have not required too many nursing skills (exception long term care where they are the nurses for all intensive purposes). You help with bedbaths, stocking, that's it. Most ERs do use their techs at higher skill levels requiring them to do IV starts and splinting- maybe some triage and discharges but many ERs like experience (recent) and/or LPN backround already.

I would have liked to go straight to RN; either ASN or BSN, but due to the need to maintain a fulltime job during school, and the lack of available schools (with room therein) nearby, I had to do a stairstep method.

The school I'm in does a CNA course while in prereqs for LPN clinicals; hence my current CNA status. I worked in a LTC facility while in CNA clinicals - definitely NOT for me.

Once I'm through LPN licensure, I'm going to go straight into a bridge program for RN. My goal is to work in an ED with eventual plans to become a flight nurse or perhaps an NP.

Due to previous experiences, I have a wider skill set than the average person at my level of licensure... I was just considering what would be best for my career at this point.

bluesky, BSN, RN

Has 4 years experience. Specializes in Critical Care, ER.

I would have liked to go straight to RN; either ASN or BSN, but due to the need to maintain a fulltime job during school, and the lack of available schools (with room therein) nearby, I had to do a stairstep method.

The school I'm in does a CNA course while in prereqs for LPN clinicals; hence my current CNA status. I worked in a LTC facility while in CNA clinicals - definitely NOT for me.

Once I'm through LPN licensure, I'm going to go straight into a bridge program for RN. My goal is to work in an ED with eventual plans to become a flight nurse or perhaps an NP.

Due to previous experiences, I have a wider skill set than the average person at my level of licensure... I was just considering what would be best for my career at this point.

A word of caution. I was a paramedic from 1992-1998 when I had my first seizure and they wouldn't let me anymore. I applied to nursing school in 2002 and graduated with my BSN in 2004. When I applied to various ER's of choice and referred to my EMS experience, it is true that I was told that unless you are currently practicing and licensed, the experience won't be weighed as heavily. Which makes sense because many procedures (such as ACLS), really do change over the years. In fact, I have a secret piece of advice for you. If you feel very confident in your speed, efficiency, assessment skills and especially IV and splinting and you want to get into a good ER and be respected right off the bat, here is what I would do...

I would keep your current job for school (unless your EMT license is still good in which case I would work as a night EMT). Then, after graduating with your LPN, I would take a tech job in an ER (again, you must

be very confident in your skills to make a bang impression), and work that job part-time through your LPN-BSN process. Then, your ER will be very impressed with you and hire you off the bat.

I would not go just the senior internship in the ER route, because it's a lot harder to impress/make friends that way. Techs and others feel threatened by nursing students and everyone is on alert because they are green (to nursing) by default. I speak from experience because I chose this route... and it wasn't the right one. Granted the ER I wanted to go at the time had 30 applications for like 4 positions, and 2 of those positions were saved for techs who were already working there. Because this was a top ranked ER with level 1 trauma, ER and peds combined which you don't find around here anymore. Of course I didn't get one of the other two. I ended up in the SICU instead which has benefits and drawbacks (benefit.... eligibility for CRNA/ drawback... no good opportunity to develop strong IV skills). However, I was less than confident at the time ( when I was doing the ER internship) and was more or less eaten up by some witches who now I could eat for my mid-morning snack skill wise but that was then in and this is now.

Also remember that if you go straight to ER, your NP options will be more limited to acute care/ critical care NP instead of CRNA which seems to be the hot (read well payed) ticket right now.

So... my advice is biased to my own experience. Perhaps ER nurses on the board here will chime in and completely disagree with me. You may consider making another post to the ER nurse forum, they may be more responsive there.

Either way, best of luck to you- you've got a long haul but I see you are dedicated and I know you will make it.

Lex

I would have liked to go straight to RN; either ASN or BSN, but due to the need to maintain a fulltime job during school, and the lack of available schools (with room therein) nearby, I had to do a stairstep method.

The school I'm in does a CNA course while in prereqs for LPN clinicals; hence my current CNA status. I worked in a LTC facility while in CNA clinicals - definitely NOT for me.

Once I'm through LPN licensure, I'm going to go straight into a bridge program for RN. My goal is to work in an ED with eventual plans to become a flight nurse or perhaps an NP.

Due to previous experiences, I have a wider skill set than the average person at my level of licensure... I was just considering what would be best for my career at this point.

I agree with daytonite and think you should keep your current job. This job seems to have worked well for you during this phase of your education. I worked as a CNA while I was in nursing school. It is very tiring to go to clinical for 8 hours, which you have been preparing for the night before, then work another 8 hours as a CNA. Also, I don't know if there is such a thing as being "mandated" in your area, but that is always a possiblity as well. You may think you're going home after your shift, but end up having to stay due to a call off, etc. Something else I'd like you to think about: You said you are a type A and can handle a level of stress that would kill most people. I do not doubt that you can handle any amount of stress, but at what cost? Physiological effects, emotional effects, cognitive effects - all are seen with acute stress, but also all are seen with chronic lower levels of stress. You want to do the very best you can while in nursing school. That will help you more in the long run than getting your foot in the door somewhere. If you feel you need to do that, then why not see about volunteering? You could do volunteer work at your discretion. The ERs in my area accept volunteers.

mom2michael, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in Rural Health.

I am assuming your next phase of school is a year, why make the decision "right now", you have a year. I would stick it out with the current job and see how school goes for you. Only you can decide if working as a CNA or any other type job is going to work for you while you are in school. If you think it will work out, over the summer get a job, you then have 6 months to whoo them and hopefully you get a job as an LPN when you graduate.

Have you thought about being a tech in the ER? I was a CNA (Student Assit) on a Med/Surg floor and freaking hated every min. of it. Now I work in an ER as a tech while I'm in school and I love it. It's hard work and sometimes I work for 12 hours straight but I've learned more in that job in 6 months than I probably will all through school. The place where I got hired is a small town ER and the only requirement was either 1. I be a student or 2. I be an EMT, which I am both. They also hire LPN's as well in the ER (which is almost unheard of anymore). Anyway, it's worth a shot and maybe you can find something along those lines.

Oh and one more thing to add, if you want to work in an ER when it's all said and done, being a CNA on a Med/Surg floor is not a sure thing to get you in the door. From what I've seen and heard from my fellow classmates, if you do a great job for them, they won't let you go. I have a classmate who is in Ortho as a SA and can't get out and has tried for a year now. They like her so much they won't let her transfer out...bad for her because she hates it and wants ICU. Just another thing to think of.

Good luck in whatever you decide!!!

I can tell you from experience tht mom2michael is absolutely correct. I was a CNA on a med surg floor (and I even floated to the ER when they needed help) and when I graduated and became an RN, then only thing they "had available" for me was a job on the same med surg floor I had worked as a CNA. It was kinda sad, because after I found out that they were interviewing classmates of mine for the position that I really wanted in the ER, I ended up leaving the hospital altogether and starting over fresh at a new place. So, if you really like the hospital that you are considering, just remember that this is always a possibility. Good Luck!!

clee1

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in Hospice, Med/Surg, ICU, ER.

A word of caution. If you feel very confident in your speed, efficiency, assessment skills and especially IV and splinting and you want to get into a good ER and be respected right off the bat, here is what I would do...

I would keep your current job for school (unless your EMT license is still good in which case I would work as a night EMT). Then, after graduating with your LPN, I would take a tech job in an ER (again, you must

be very confident in your skills to make a bang impression), and work that job part-time through your LPN-BSN process. Then, your ER will be very impressed with you and hire you off the bat.

Also remember that if you go straight to ER, your NP options will be more limited to acute care/ critical care NP instead of CRNA which seems to be the hot (read well payed) ticket right now.

So... my advice is biased to my own experience. Perhaps ER nurses on the board here will chime in and completely disagree with me. You may consider making another post to the ER nurse forum, they may be more responsive there.

Either way, best of luck to you- you've got a long haul but I see you are dedicated and I know you will make it.

Lex

Thanks Lex.... your advice has the smell of sage!:D

I AM a bit rusty, as it has been a LONG time since my military training and EMT work. However, I was told then, and by my instructors now, that I have a knack for this work and I should be able to get wherever I want to go.

My last year in the service, I was the medic on a dustoff (air evac). I have started hundreds of IVs in a moving helicopter, including peds. My skills at that point I would have rated against anyone and not been worried. After the service, I worked as a phlebotomist at a large hospital while waiting for my EMT ticket to come through. The ER attending was a doc I had served under in the military, and he "spread the word". This hospital had an IV team: the floor nurse got one shot at starting an IV; then the IV team was called. If THEY couldn't start it; I got called from the lab :smokin:. If I couldn't get it, a MD was called to do a cut down. So, at one time my skills were better than average; I feel sure I'll get back up to speed quickly.

Absolute top pay is not my hot spot: I want a good job that is amply compensated, that's all. I definitely prefer emergency work, though.

I appreciate the great advice!

clee1

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in Hospice, Med/Surg, ICU, ER.

I agree with daytonite and think you should keep your current job.

Something else I'd like you to think about: You said you are a type A and can handle a level of stress that would kill most people. I do not doubt that you can handle any amount of stress, but at what cost? Physiological effects, emotional effects, cognitive effects - all are seen with acute stress, but also all are seen with chronic lower levels of stress. You want to do the very best you can while in nursing school. That will help you more in the long run than getting your foot in the door somewhere.

If you feel you need to do that, then why not see about volunteering? You could do volunteer work at your discretion. The ERs in my area accept volunteers.

That seems to be the consensus.... So I think I'll keep my current non-med job.

Good point about the stress.... I CAN handle incredible amounts, but there IS a price to pay. I don't think I am willing to pay it while in school.

I may see about volunteering; I didn't consider that.

Thanks for the great advice! :chuckle

clee1

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in Hospice, Med/Surg, ICU, ER.

Thank you everyone, for all the great advice!

You've undoubtedly saved me a tremendous headache and several possible career pitfalls.

Thanks again!

I agree- keep the job you have. I tried what you were thinking about- work as a cna while in the lpn program. After clinicals started, really the second semester of clinicals, I thought I would lose my mind! Way too much hospital and not enough life. I found myself hating hospitals and nursing, and wanted to quit both. So I figured, better get rid of the job and keep the school, can decide specialty later. Very tough decision. I too want Emergency medicine field, and lpn clinicals do not go near that, neither does a cna on med/surg. So, I quit the job, stayed in nursing program, and joined the volunteer fire dept. as an emt/first responder on medical aid calls- I get paged out to go with the local ambulance on every call they make, but I do not have to go to every one- just when I'm available. Smartest thing I ever did- running with the ambulance reminded me why I was doing all this school stuff, and gave me back my enthusiasm for learning nursing.

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