Becoming a CNA before becoming an RN: Why you should consider

For aspiring nurses, the path to becoming a registered nurse (RN) may be obvious: Finish your bachelor’s, pass the NCLEX and acquire your certification to practice.

There is value in the road less trodden, however. Some HCPs become Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) before they become RNs. While not for everyone, there are a number of reasons why this career path should be at least considered.

Is becoming a CNA worth it? Why would you want to be a CNA? This essay will answer all this and more.

Gain direct experience

While nursing students get the opportunity to work clinical rotations, they cannot truly replicate the pressure of a real-life work setting. While CNAs do not have the same responsibilities as RNs, they are trusted with basic care tasks such as reading vital signs, collecting samples and moving patients from room to room.

CNAs can grow acclimated to the workflow of a nursing unit, and build confidence in their ability to handle the pressure and rigors of daily nursing work.

Work as early as possible

Most bachelor’s students need to complete a 4-year course before they can get certified for nursing work. Comparatively, CNAs get to work far earlier than their contemporaries, because the barrier to entry is so low.

How many years does it take to become a CNA? You can gain your certification in just 4 to 12 weeks.

Can you become a CNA without a diploma? Unlike other nursing roles, absolutely.

While you still want to be disciplined and focused on your studies, becoming a CNA is less hard than many other roles. If you want to start at the earliest possible time, this is your best option.

Bolster your resume

Nursing school applications are brutally competitive. Think about it: you are competing with hundreds, if not thousands, of nursing hopefuls for a limited number of slots.

This is one of the main benefits of being a CNA. All that tangible experience could be the edge that helps your application stand out. Many nursing schools greatly value prospective students with real experience in the field. Some schools even have a minimum field experience requirement.

This will let you build towards becoming an RN while earning money on the side.

Interacting with patients

Nursing is more than memorizing medical texts or carrying out complex, technical processes. Interacting with patients is a major part of nursing, as HCPs are expected to provide counsel and emotional support throughout the healing process.

Building a rapport with your patient and gaining their trust requires communication and people skills. The best way to hone these attributes is by interacting with patients in a real clinical setting.

Go out there!

Ideally, you want to become a CNA before you take your RN classes. Specific individuals have been able to work a CNA job while taking their nursing classes, but this is a tremendous ordeal that requires discipline and smart time management.

No matter how you approach things, the benefits of being a CNA are plentiful. You can start nursing assistant work earlier, compared to other healthcare professions, which lets you build experience faster than everyone else. Some may prefer skipping their RN classes, and that is also a valid route in and of itself. But if you want real work in the field as soon as possible, becoming a CNA is worth considering.

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