CNA to RN: 4 Things You Need to Know

CNA to RN: 4 Things You Need to Know

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) may find some difficulties moving into the Registered Nursing (RN) role. For CNAs looking to advance their careers, we have compiled critical knowledge that will guarantee a smooth and seamless professional advancement.

Why do CNAs want to become RNs?

Most people view Certified Nursing Assistant roles (CNA) as entry level. Becoming certified is far more affordable than most healthcare provider (HCP) roles, and you get to start as early as after high school. From there, the hope is to build enough funds and practical work experience to become a Registered Nurse (RN).

Across the board, RNs earn more than CNAs and enjoy a greater number of professional opportunities. The most recent census data from the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimated that nursing assistants make around $35,740 per year, while registered nurses make around $81,220 per year. Between additional certifications, potentially moving into administrative roles, and further education, RNs have a greater number of career advancement opportunities. Put simply, making the jump to RN provides CNAs greater responsibilities and earning potential.

How can I make a seamless CNA to RN transition?

With so much to consider, it can be difficult for some CNAs to know where to even start. That is why we have compiled several pertinent tips on how to make the CNA to RN transition.

Find the courses that best suit your needs

Traditional RN classes are rather lengthy. For reference, Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) classes will take two years to complete while Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) classes take up to four. If you are a CNA, however, you may be eligible to apply for CNA to RN Bridge Program. These courses build on your prior education and experience, which allows you to become an RN faster.

CNA to RN ADN programs could take just one to two years to complete, while CNA to RN BSN programs could last three to four years.  For more flexible arrangements, you can look for part-time or online CNA to RN courses that can accommodate for your working schedule. If you have the mental fortitude and the schedule to keep up with the pace, there are accelerated CNA to RN courses that are full time, and will let you get certified quickly. Whichever you pick, be sure that your course is accredited by your local state board of nursing. Without that seal of approval, none of your hours will be recognized.

Choose between ADN or BSN classes

There are trade-offs to consider, when choosing between BSN and ADN courses. Getting your associate’s degree will take a much shorter time, and allows you to gain practical experience as early as possible. In addition, ADN courses are often significantly cheaper. On the other hand, a BSN will provide greater professional opportunities and higher earning roles in the future. When you want to advance your career or education, Master’s degree classes will ask for a BSN at the bare minimum.

Prepare your requirements

Most RN programs will ask you to complete several prerequisite courses in college, before you can apply at all. These are some of the most common examples:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Biology
  • Sociology
  • Chemistry
  • English
  • Microbiology

It is not just educational requirements, either. You will be required to submit several documents, upon submitting your application. This includes (but is not limited to) your transcripts, a letter of recommendation, birth certificates, your CNA certification, and even an updated resume. Be sure to prepare everything well in advance, to avoid any inconveniences.

Prepare for the NCLEX-RN

Getting accepted to your RN school of choice is just part of the process. Once you are in, you want to do your best to pass both the lecture and practical clinical rotation parts of the curriculum. Upon graduation, you will be asked to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination- Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN.) This is an exam that every student is asked to take, before they can get certified as an RN. Ideally, you want to start studying at least one to two months before the actual exam date.

Ask your teachers or guidance counselors for tips and resources on how to prepare. You can also find several NCLEX reviewers and practice exams, both in bookstores and online. Most importantly, you must be confident. Your education, up to this point, has prepared you for this test.

Go out there!

Making the move from CNA to RN is not a laughing matter. It requires a great deal of personal and financial investment, as well as several compromises. Most nursing assistants will opt to take their RN classes while working their CNA jobs at the same time, which is undoubtedly exhausting. For CNAs who can make those sacrifices however, they will be rewarded with greater professional options, potentially higher compensating roles, and more avenues for career progression. Provided that you keep in mind the tips listed above, any CNA can make the jump with enough effort and determination.


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