The route from CNA to RN is not a required pathway for most nursing schools. During your first semester of nursing school you will learn basic patient care duties, which is the staple of being a certified nursing assistant.
So that begs the question: Do you have to be a CNA before becoming an RN? It may not be necessary for most high school or college students, but it may be beneficial for those with no health care experience – i.e., those starting a second career.
Well explore the benefits of doing a CNA to RN program, along with the detractors of having those three letters after your name before starting nursing school.
Learn basic CNA skills before nursing school
But first things first: A registered nurses job is different than a certified nursing assistants and requires a different mindset.
While the RN is managing and supervising the nursing care and patient care, the CNA is performing most of the nursing care tasks.
Most floor RNs will help CNAs and work as a team but CNAs do much of the grunt work emptying urinals, bed baths and linen changes, etc.
Learning these basic skills before your first semester of nursing school can be beneficial because you wont need to spend much time learning them when in school.
There will be plenty of other material to learn during your RN program and you can focus on drugs, pathophysiology, and procedures you dont know.
Becoming a CNA also serves another big purpose: Overcoming the fear of patients and figuring out if a job in the medical field is right for you.
Touching patients: An awkward feeling at first
If your previous jobs only required handshakes, you may feel awkward when touching people in places other than their hand!
This can be a little nerve-wrecking at first but it does improve with practice, which is why the aide route might have an advantage for those coming from outside of health care.
That said, you probably will be more nervous (if youre a guy) learning on fellow female nursing students.
The theory is that you can get the awkwardness out of your system before you start your 1st semester, and that will allow you to focus on learning how to perform skills related to patient care in clinicals, rather than learning how to deal with awkward feelings.
Is healthcare right for you?
For less than $500 dollars and time, you can take a CNA course in less than six weeks and find a job in a hospital.
This can offer you a glimpse of the medical world without spending money on two years in school, worrying about how hard nursing school is, or if you want a job in healthcare.
But it is important to remember that a CNAs job is different than the RNs.
That said, you may be able to see what RNs do and watch certain procedures if time allows. You will also be able to see if nursing is right for you.
Gaining confidence and experience around patients will be paramount and it can be easier to get it before nursing school.
Face it: Youre going to see bodily fluids – all day, every day.
Youll develop an immunity to looking at blood, urine, stool, or even a nasty looking decutitus ulcer (bedsore) after time.
One way to gain experience and desensitize yourself to these fluids is to be a CNA first.
Keep in mind that even those in the class are going to apprehensive about seeing bodily fluids but the experience will be beneficial and help you during your 1st semester of nursing school.
The last thing you want is to be in school and not be able to clean up a sticky situation from an objective and professional viewpoint.
Healthcare experience will help you a lot if you are coming from a different career.
Allied health careers offer patient interaction but can be technical, too.
You will probably have transferable communication skills that help with the patient interaction portion but the technical portion is another world.
You may also be able to get scholarships for working in the field or tuition reimbursement from your employer, which can help defray the cost of nursing school.
Whats interesting is that according to allnurses.com, some RNs mention that their school could tell a difference between those who were CNAs.
The CNAs had a specific routine down on what to do in certain situations and did that routine. They were conditioned as nursing aides. Whereas the nursing students who were not CNAs had no routine and had an easier time learning the RN duties instead of falling back into a routine.
Although most dont need to be a CNA certification before nursing school, it can benefit people who are starting a second career in nursing and allow them to see if being in a hospital environment is right for them.
Also, some schools may require you to go from nursing assistant to RN, and the program you are applying to will provide that information to you.
I hope this article helps you are considering the CNA to RN route.