Should you become a CNA, if you are planning on going to nursing school? Is the experience worth it? Will being a CNA make me a good nurse? As in every aspect in life, the answer is not an all size fits one. The experience is a plus but not completely necessary. Being a CNA before going to school can help you to be more prepared, but you can still be a great nurse without it. There are many things to consider when making this decision. Lifestyle, pay, and location are just some things to think about. I have been a CNA for eight years and these are some of the things I think you should consider before working as a CNA.
PROS: The good news
Experience, Experience and Experience - I cannot say that enough. You can learn so much by working in the healthcare field.
Basic knowledge of first term skills - I found that my skills as a CNA were very helpful during the fundamentals of nursing. I had firsthand knowledge of so many things we went over for in Lab.
Forming professional connections - These connections can be extremely helpful. Coworkers are often used as references, for school or for new jobs. Some CNA's will come out of school with their first nursing job already secured. Plus, I can't tell you how many times, I have asked a nurse to explain something, I had a question about from school.
Financial assistance (some facilities will help pay for school) - This is a great resource if your place of employment offers it. My hospital has tuition reimbursement and scholarship programs. ( Plus, my employer pays for my BLS certification)
Patient interaction before your first clinical - I am so comfortable talking to patients and their family members. I am also used to having physical contact with patients; Helping someone to the chair, bathing, feeding, and helping with other ADL's (activities of daily living)
Making a difference in someone's life - This career can be very personally rewarding. For those of us who thrive on helping others, my work is beyond fulfilling.
It might actually help you get into a nursing program - Two programs I applied to actually gave me points for every year I worked as a CNA (there was a cap for that category).
CONS: The bad news
It is hard on the body - Depending on the unit/location the work can be incredibly physical. An 8 or 12-hour shift can take a lot out of you. I started working in my early 20's and even then it was hard on my body. To say it takes a good pair of shoes is an understatement. But don't forget those good shoes will cost you a pretty penny! While we are on money let's talk about salary!
Pay - To be honest the area of the country I work in does not pay CNA's that well. At least for what all you do on a daily basis. The amount of physical a mental exhaustion might not be worth it to everyone. Most places do offer shift differential for nights and weekends.
Time to study - You really need to have great time management skills to get in enough study time. The last thing you want to do after working a 12-hour shift is to stay up and study. If you have kids, you can feel guilty, taking the time to study. There might be times when you have been working the last two days, and you haven't even shared a meal with them. I talk from personal experience on that one. One great option is taking a PRN position with low hour requirements. So that might be something to look for if you are interested, but do not want to be tied down to a set schedule.
I did a more of an in-depth video on my feelings on this subject down below. Feel free to check it out. I would love to know other opinions on this subject. Please let me know if you found this helpful.
You can visit my channel here Rachel The Bookworm....