A few questions from a prospective nursing student

  1. I am considering going to school to get my RN. I was speaking with a friend, whose a RN, and she suggested I get some medical experience by working as a CNA. I am currently a homemaker w/ a 22 month old. Because I'm living off of one income, I really can not afford to pay for a CNA program through the college. I was wondering if anybody has any suggestions? I live in the lower hudson valley (NY).

    Also, I saw an ad in the local newspaper for free PCA/HHA training. (offered by a HC fac) I was wondering what are other people's thoughts on this? What IS the difference between a PCA and a CNA? Can they interchange jobs? (if your a pca can you function as a cna? vice versa?)

    Thank you soo much for time and consideration.
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    About ebrown343

    Joined: Sep '06; Posts: 8

    14 Comments

  3. by   lisabeth
    What you could do first of all is volunteer and maybe work in different areas. You can do this anytime. Saturday, Sunday. It doesnt have to take the place of your currnet job, and you can pretty much say when you can be there. Maybe you could get to know some RNs and see what are the pros/cons of that particular field of nursing.
    You could do that for a little while and see how that goes. Maybe in the mean time, you could put some money back for a CNA program. Sometimes things dont work out exactly when we want them to, but when they do happen, we appriciate them and work harder to get there. Good luck to you.

    Quote from 1252982343
    I am considering going to school to get my RN. I was speaking with a friend, whose a RN, and she suggested I get some medical experience by working as a CNA. I am currently a homemaker w/ a 22 month old. Because I'm living off of one income, I really can not afford to pay for a CNA program through the college. I was wondering if anybody has any suggestions? I live in the lower hudson valley (NY).

    Also, I saw an ad in the local newspaper for free PCA/HHA training. (offered by a HC fac) I was wondering what are other people's thoughts on this? What IS the difference between a PCA and a CNA? Can they interchange jobs? (if your a pca can you function as a cna? vice versa?)

    Thank you soo much for time and consideration.
  4. by   ebrown343
    thank you sooo much. I haven't even considered that!!! Once I get some experience, I could apply as a paid assistant.....then figure out how to take classes. I'm soo going to look into that! thanks.
  5. by   lisabeth
    You are welcome. I know it may be hard to really get to know RNs because they are always busy, but you will never know until you try.
  6. by   NaomieRN
    Working as a CNA would be good, but it is not a requirement. Beside, when you complete nursing 101, you can work as a student nurse and making more than CNAs. I think like Texas mentioned, volunteer would be a good option. Good luck to you
  7. by   xt1
    At some point in your nursing training you become qualified to work as a CNA. So there is no need for CNA training You'll get it when your attend nursing school or at least this is how I understand it.
  8. by   SummerGarden
    I do not know a lot about CNA training, however I do know someone who is a single mom and is considered "poor" by government standards. She will be getting CNA training through a not-for-profit organization for free.

    Maybe you can find something like that in your area? Call around and see if any of the social work organizations knows of a program like this that you qualify to attend. Good luck. :wink2:
  9. by   WDWpixieRN
    The PCA position (Patient Care Associate?) would be great experience in my opinion also (not sure what HHA is; sorry)....the patient care techs who are now students with me in my first semester of nursing are so much more confident and have a leg up as far as skills and medical terminology are concerned....they also have a slight disadvantage if they weren't trained the way our school wants them to do things, but I think that's very slight IMHO, and they are adjusting.

    I think any of this type of related experience would be valuable if you're interested...a volunteer position is also a good idea if you're not looking to add to your household income...

    Best wishes!
  10. by   girls1
    I DON'T THINK IT'S ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL FOR YOU TO DO ANYTHING IN THE MEDICAL FIELD BEFORE BECOMING AN RN, BUT OF COURSE IT WOULD BE HELPFUL.
    AN HHA IS A HOME HEALTH AIDE. THEY SIT WITH CLIENTS AT HOME WHO ARE REVOVERING FROM ILLNESS OR SURGERY. THEY MAY HELP THEM TO FEED THEMSELVES, TO BATHE AND THEY MAY DO HOUSEHOLD TASKS AND ERRANDS. A PCA IS A PERSONAL CARE AIDE. THEY DO THE SAME THING. USUALLY YOU TRAIN FOR ABOUT A MONTH. THE PAY IS USUALLY EXTREMLELY LOW. I LIVE IN NEW YORK. HERE, THEY ARE PAID ABOUT $7.00 PER HOUR WHICH IS NOT VERY MUCH. ALSO, YOU CAN USUALLY GET MORE PAY AT NIGHT AND ON THE WEEKEND. IF YOU LOOK IN YOUR LOCAL YELLOW PAGES FOR HOME CARE AGENCIES, YOU'LL FIND THAT MANY OF THEM ACTUALLY OFFER FREE TRAING IN THIS FIELD.
    CNA HAVE MUCH MORE TECHNICAL SKILLS AND THEY TRAIN A LITTLE LONGER. PLUS THEY NEED A STATE CERTIFICATE IN MOST AREAS. THE EXPERIENCE IS VERY USEFUL AND CONSIDERING THAT YOUR RN PROGRAM MAY REQUIRE ONE TO TWO SEMESTER OF PREQUISTIES BEFORE BEGINING YOUR CLINICAL NURSING EXPERIENCE, IT MAY BE WELL WORTH IT TO TRY INVESTING IN ONE OF THESE PROGRAMS.
    AS SOMEONE ELSE MENTIONED, USUALLY THERE ARE GOVERNEMENT TRAINING PROGRAMS THAT PROVIDE FREE OR LOW COST TRAINING IN THIS FIELD FOR PEOPLE IN YOUR SITUATION.
    THE PAY AROUND HERE IS NOT THAT GREAT FOR CNA GENERALLY SPEAKING. BUT SOME MAKE $12-$15 PER HOUR.
    GOOD LUCK IN WHATEVER YOU DECIDE AND REMEBER TO RESEARCH EXTENSIVELY BEFORE COMMITTING YOURSELF.:wink2:
  11. by   marilynmom
    I'm in nursing school. I had no experience and I'm doing fine both in the classroom and in the clinical area.

    I personally wouldn't pay for CNA training. After our first semester we are qualified to work as CNAs. Also look at some of the larger hospitals in your area....a lot of them will pay for your training if you agree to work for them.
  12. by   sddlnscp
    I ditto most of the previous posts, after our first semester, we were qualified to take the CNA test and work as CNAs. However, some of our instructors have actually cautioned us against that. They mentioned that the experience is good, but they think that some students tend to become task-oriented and then they have trouble with delegating and personal responsibility once they become LPNs/RNs. Now, I know many people in my class who are CNAs and are doing wonderful in the classes and even a few who are going to take the test and work as CNAs until they become LPNs, but it is just something to keep in the back of your mind if you are considering it. I think that would end up happening to me if I worked as a CNA while in nursing school, so I'm not going to go that route. I am employed in a non-healthcare profession and am doing just fine in the classes, so it is definitely not necessary to work in a healthcare field unless you want to.

    Best of luck in whatever you decide, let us know!
  13. by   WDWpixieRN
    Quote from sddlnscp
    They mentioned that the experience is good, but they think that some students tend to become task-oriented and then they have trouble with delegating and personal responsibility once they become LPNs/RNs.
    That's an interesting perspective and I'm glad you posted that...I tend to have a hard time delegating anyway, and was thinking of looking for a healthcare related job here pretty soon....but I think I'll lean back toward waitressing....silly, I know, but I've always wanted to try that, and I know they can make great money in tips which will be needed with my limited availability while I'm in school!!
  14. by   sddlnscp
    wdwpixie, I'm so glad what I said made a difference for somebody. It's not something I would have thought of either had it not come up in class. Enjoy your waitressing (yes, they can make awesome $ in tips, but I am too clumsy - hehe) and best of luck in school!

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