Non-CNA Jobs You Can Work While You're a Student

Getting a foot in the door of a healthcare facility is immensely important in this competitive day and age, and some students want to get an early start. However, not every nursing student wants to work as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). The purpose of this article is to discuss other healthcare-related jobs that nursing students can work. Nursing Students General Students Article


You are studying to become a nurse and would like to be working for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you would prefer to graduate from nursing school completely free of debt, or at the very least, you wish to minimize any student loan debt you might accrue during your years as a nursing student. Maybe your household really depends on your income, and therefore, you've got to work.

Perhaps you are looking for a job because you're attempting to get a foot in the door of a hospital, nursing home, or some other type of healthcare facility to amass some experience. This is actually a great idea because, if you make a good impression, you might be able to secure a licensed nursing position at the same workplace after you graduate from the school of nursing that you attend.

In this ultra-competitive job market, you might have a strong advantage over other new grads if you are already an internal employee at a place that hires nurses.

Masses of people will recommend that you earn a certified nursing assistant (CNA) state certification and work as a CNA while completing school. While it is true that CNAs accrue excellent healthcare experience that cannot be replicated, not everyone wants to spend the time, energy, or money to pursue the certification.

Other employment options in the healthcare field exist that do not require certification. In addition, these positions offer learning experiences if you look hard enough.

Dietary Aide

You will be working in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the kitchen during meal preparation times. You will also learn how to assemble meal trays as appropriate for the different diets that doctors commonly prescribe to patients (1800 calorie diabetic diet, renal diet, cardiac diet, 2 gram sodium diet, gluten-free diet, and so forth). Some hospitals, long term care centers, and assisted living facilities allow dietary aides to pass out meal trays, so some opportunities for patient interaction might arise. Of course, this is dependent on the policies and procedures of your place of employment.

Environmental Services Technician

You will be responsible for disinfecting patient rooms, performing housekeeping duties, properly disposing of biohazard materials per facility policy, responding to spills, and maintaining cleanliness. Many healthcare facilities use outside companies to do laundry. However, if your workplace has not outsourced laundering duties, the environmental services staff might be responsible for washing soiled linens and other clothing articles. Some brief opportunities for interaction with patients may arise.


You will be responsible for safely transporting patients to and from different departments in the hospital. This position allows for plenty of interaction with multiple patients on a daily basis.

Direct Care Staff

Direct care staff members are primarily employed in intermediate care facilities and group homes in the community that house developmentally disabled clients. They give showers, help clients get dressed, prepare meals, assist with feeding and toileting, perform incontinent care, complete flow sheets, and provide companionship. Some states allow direct care staff members to pass oral medications to the clients. This role allows for a great deal of close contact with the patient population served by the group home.

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Specializes in Critical Care.

over a year as a pharmacy tech here, starting ADN in august... hope already knowing all the meds and drug classes will help somewhere along the line!

Specializes in Med/Surg, Tele, Psych.

Hi I know this is super late, but how do you get certified to be a phlebotomist while in nursing school? I have all day classes and I don't think I can adjust my schedule much? Thanks in advance!

Specializes in Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.
Hi I know this is super late, but how do you get certified to be a phlebotomist while in nursing school? I have all day classes and I don't think I can adjust my schedule much? Thanks in advance!

Maybe you could take it over the summer if you don't already have classes?

This is helpful, thank you.

Specializes in Med/Surg, Tele, Psych.
Maybe you could take it over the summer if you don't already have classes?

Thanks, that's a possibility. I wonder how long the course is? But bc I have all morning classes; I'll have to find a night/evening job available before I get that certification.

Specializes in TCU, Post-surgical, Infection Prevention.

I was blessed to get an administrative position in a hospital in the infection prevention department.

I get to see first hand how best practices really play out in the hospital setting.

My bosses are RNs and they are a blast. I think it's also a good experience.

I wouldn't recommend working as a CMA while you're in school. There is very little flexibility in scheduling- it is usually a 9-5, 40 hr job. I worked as a evening/night unit secretary in the NICU- tons of study time as it's usually pretty quiet there- and now as unlicensed support assistant in a surg unit. Once you finish fundamentals (in my state, at least) you can apply for a CNA license through the board. Once you have that, you have a lot of options- student nurse, PCT, sitter, nursing support, etc.

What kind of qualifications does one need to be a unit secretary?

Specializes in Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.
What kind of qualifications does one need to be a unit secretary?

At my hospital... No formal education, but they usually have experience in the medical field in some way.

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.
What kind of qualifications does one need to be a unit secretary?
At my place of employment, management will 'promote' a CNA into the unit secretary role and train them to perform the duties on the job. Also, the company hires medical assistants into the unit secretary role.
I worked as a sitter for over a year, and no, you weren't allowed to do anything (read, do homework) unless it was a night shift (at one point, you couldn't even do that). I currently work as a PCA (Patient Care Associate). I don't have a license. My clinicals in nursing school are "substitutes."

I strongly suggest all students to work as CNAs, earn their stripes, and get down the basics of nursing care. I also find that working as a CNA is a humbling experience that many nurses could use (unfortunately, some nurses forget that CNAs are aides, not slaves). If you aren't willing to work as a CNA (assuming your situation allows it), then I have to wonder...why are you going into nursing to begin with?

Yessss!! I'm a nursing student that starts in the fall and I decided to do CNA this summer for the benefits of knowledge & experience AND I'M EXCITED ABOUT IT!!

I just completed my first term as a BSN student.

I'm working over the summer as a research assistant to fill in the learning gap during the 3 month break. We are working on creating a database for a certain infectious disease.

My job is to peruse through archived medical records of patients with said disease and record pertinent information in the database.

While I'm not exactly working directly with patients (it's essentially an office job), I'm getting tons of experience with reading and understanding medical records. Plus, I'm gaining more knowledge about medications, radiology, labs, microbacteriology, and especially care plans of both the nurse and physician. It's also really great practice for recognizing and using medical abbreviations and terminology.

Specializes in Aesthetics, Med/Surg, Outpatient.

Another vote for unit clerk/secretary... Love it!

I was a CNA in home health before clinicals but my clerical position is more school-friendly

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