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Nursing Students: Is Being A Cna A Good First Step To Being A Nurse?

Jan 9, 2008
How much do you really know about nursing and nursing school?

Prospective nursing students may want to consider a part-time or even a full-time job as a CNA before putting in the time - at least several years - and money - possibly tens of thousands of dollars - to go to nursing school. Being a CNA is a great way to get paid while seeing what nursing is really all about.

A CNA is a certified nurse assistant or aide. In most states, there are privately-offered courses which, for a few hundred dollars, offer courses in the basic skills required to be a certified nurses assistant. These courses can be completed in just a few weeks. To find them, just go on a search engine and type in "CNA course" and the name of the area you are interested in - for instance, "CNA course San Francisco" or "CNA course Boston" or "CNA course Bay area".

After the course is completed, the CNA will take a test which reviews their competency in those skills. They are tested on a couple of dozen skills, including skills such as cleaning dentures and cleaning around a catheter area. There is also a written portion of the test.

CNAs do not give medication. They work under the direction of registered nurses, and they assist patients in a wide range of patient self-care areas. They empty bedpans, make beds, help patients get out of bed into a wheelchair, help patients eat if necessary, brush patients' teeth, and do other tasks which make patients clean and comfortable. They take notes on how much a patient ate or drank and sometimes on how much waste the patient produced if the patient is using a catheter or bedpan, and give those notes to their supervisor so the patients continuing healthcare needs can be assies.

CNAs are highly in demand, but they are not highly-paid. They generally make in a range of $7 to $15 an hour, depending on years of experience and what state they live in. They can work anywhere that patients need care: hospitals, schools, clinics, nursing homes, hospices, prisons, home health care...there are a wide range of places eager to hire CNAs.

Like nurses, CNAs have the advantage of being able to work flexible shifts; they are needed on nights, weekends, holidays, and they can work part time or full-time if they choose.

Many registered nurses started out as CNAs. Many nursing students, as they make their way through nursing school, work part-time as CNAs to help support themselves. There are numerous advantages to this. They make connections and gain experience in the healthcare community, and they can observe first hand what registered nurses do on their daily rounds.

For those who are looking for a highly in-demand job, which gives a front-row observation seat into the world of healthcare, becoming a CNA is certainly a good first step. And some CNAs enjoy the direct patient contact, and freedom from the chores of working in a managerial position, to the point where they remain CNAs for their entire career.
About the Author
Ruby Nicholson provides many helpful tips on getting into nursing school, getting past nursing school waiting lists, finding grants, scholarships, and loans for nursing school, and online nursing degrees, at www.Nursingschoolprograms.com.
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