Should I get my CNA on top of my college courses?

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So im a college student, currently studying my Bachelors in Psychology. I just started in March 2024, I have 5 courses left and will be done April 2025. I take two classes at a time. So far its been writing papers and discussion boards. Nothing to study or exams. I don't know if it'll be the same other courses.

I couldve been done this year but I have an odd number of classes and will be in one course from January through April. I plan on changing my degree path after I'm done to Nursing. I'd like to start from the bottom as CNA or LPN. Preferably CNA, as its easier to obtain and I could do PRN work to maintain my liscense. There's a 2 month CNA course starting in June and I'm thinking about joining it.

It's 3 days a week and runs from 8am-4pm. I also work full time Case Manager/MHT with room to move my schedule around. Do you guys feel that it'd be doable adding another course on top of studying my psychology degree? I've realized its not really financially best to continue on to masters level and I'd like to try something different. I'd like to utilize my psych degree in a more financially rewarding way but also because psychology is my passion. I plan on staying as close to behavioral health as possible.

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

It sounds like you have a plan and understanding of your goals and interests, which is great!

Adding a certified nursing assistant (CNA) course to your current psychology degree studies and full-time work is possible, but it will be challenging. However, a two-month course is doable if you are a good student, motivated, and careful with planning and time management. 

The question is, is it worth it? Do you plan to work as a CNA? Working as a CNA has some advantages as you start a nursing path. It provides exposure to the healthcare industry and can even lead to connections that help you secure a job as an RN. down the road.

However, I'm curious to know if you plan on leaving your current job as a Case Manager and start working as a CNA.

You said you plan to switch to Nursing after completing your Bachelor's degree in Psychology. With a Bachelor's degree, you may be eligible for an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. However, regardless of the program, you must take heavy prerequisites such as anatomy, chemistry, and physiology. Working while in an accelerated program can be challenging, as the coursework is intense. 

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Time management. Evaluate your current commitments and schedule to see if you can realistically fit in the CNA course. You mentioned having some flexibility in your job, which could be beneficial in managing your time effectively.
  • Workload. Workload-wise, this may be doable as your psychology courses sound light. Assess the workload of your psychology courses. If they have been manageable so far, adding one more course might not be too overwhelming. However, if you anticipate heavier coursework in the future, you may need to adjust your plans accordingly.
  • Personal well-being. Consider how adding another course will impact your personal well-being and stress levels. It's important to prioritize self-care and avoid burnout, especially when juggling multiple responsibilities.
  • Financial implications: Think about the economic impact of taking the CNA course. Will the investment in time and money pay off in the long run?
  • Long-term goals. Reflect on your long-term career goals and how working as a CNA aligns with them. If you see it as a stepping stone towards a career in nursing and utilizing your psychology degree in behavioral health, it could be a valuable addition to your skill set.

Ultimately, whether or not you decide to pursue the CNA course alongside your psychology degree will depend on your circumstances and priorities. It's essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully and choose a course that aligns with your goals and values.

If you feel confident in your ability to manage your time effectively and are passionate about pursuing a career in healthcare, then it could be a worthwhile endeavor.

Best wishes in your decision,

Nurse Beth


Thank you so much for responding! I feel I am good with planning and time management. I do procrastinate but I get the work done on time and get good grades. I like that I'm challenged when I was taking medical courses. I don't really feel that way in Psychology.  It all comes easy for me. 

I looked into doing the ABSN program but I feel that may be too overwhelming and I might fall behind. So I'd rather take things step by step. I'm close to being an LPN as well but I want something that puts me in the medical field sooner and that I can work in while studying for my LPN. My advisor told me I have 4 course differences between my LPN and RN degree,  as a lot of my courses for my psychology degree count towards my nursing degree. Itd take me about a year to get my LPN degree. I've already taken my A&P classes last year and passed with As. All of my pre-reqs for the LPN program are done. I need Microbiology and my 3rd A&P for the RN program and all of my nursing courses for both LPN and RN.

The course isn't pricey and text books are now included in our tuition. IDK if its the same for nursing. The CNA program went from a little over 3k to 850. I wouldnt have had to pay 3k though because I already had completed courses. There's extra things I'll need to purchase but not much. Burn out avoidance is very important and I'll try to watch that. They are changing the nursing program curriculum this fall as well and it seems a lot simpler than before. Although I was looking forward to taking the different specialty classes. Especially Mental Health Nursing LOL.

I'm constantly looking at job market and salary of CNAs and other health professions. Currently there's lots of CNA jobs paying more than what I'm making with my associates and a few others that will still pay more even when I have my bachelors degree. I'll go from $17.60hr to 20hr when I obtain my bachelors and the only way to get more money is if I get my masters. I believe Ill be at 23-25 hr. So not much more room for growth and pay increase. To me it makes sense to leave or go down to a tech again as a PRN, before leaving completely.

My long term goal is to become Psychiatric RN and a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (if I choose to go for my masters). I plan to stay in behavioral health fields of work throughout my nursing school journey. I love psychology and helping people, just feel it's time to change the direction after doing research of staying invested long-term in psychology alone and even as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor.