With the challenges of healthcare reform, an aging population and the expansion of nursing responsibilities in the process of patient care, the role of the nurse requires extensive training and hands-on experience for a smoother transition from nursing student to performing actual practice in medical settings. In response, numerous licensed practical nursing and registered nursing programs are requiring potential student nurses to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) as a prerequisite for admission. Although requiring a CNA certification may seem to be an extra hurdle or obstacle to the completion of your nursing degree, a certification in this valued healthcare profession can benefit you with opportunities for income and help you secure a lucrative career in the future.
The Fierce Competition of Nursing School
As waiting lists lengthen for prospective students, schools of nursing are implementing policies that increase the chances of your successful completion of a nursing degree. Since nurses work with strict patient confidence and perform care behind the scenes of a hospital, most students do not have the full picture of the role of a nurse before they enter the nursing field. However, completion of a CNA provides you with the hands-on experience of actual patient care and an improved understanding of the duties of a nurse.
Even if your school of nursing does not require you to complete a CNA program, this experience of working in nursing can help you make informed decisions before committing to a program. Ensure your success by completing a CNA program that strengthens your resolve for a nursing future or avoid spending time and tuition on a career that does not fit your needs. In addition, your impressive CNA status on an admission application can place you at the top of the enrollment list.
Employment Opportunities as a Student Nurse
As a CNA, you may be in a position to earn a good income during your student status. CNAs are in high demand across the country and work in nursing homes, hospitals, adult day care and home healthcare. Work schedules are frequently flexible for part and full-time CNA positions that can adjust to your challenging school class schedules. Most facilities that provide care also offer “as needed” positions or “PRN” that allow you to work when you are available. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010, CNAs can expect an hourly wage of $11.54 per hour.
The First Step to Nursing is the Completion of a CNA
As numerous studies have revealed, nursing students who have earned a CNA have much higher rates of graduation from nursing programs. With the addition of the CNA prerequisite, nursing schools are confident that waiting lists will become streamlined with highly qualified students who have a deeper understanding of the role of the nurse.
Depending on your state of residence, CNA programs can be two weeks to a semester in length. The classes focus on basic nursing skills, the use of medical equipment and an advanced understanding of human anatomy and nutrition that can prepare you for a nursing school program with confidence and experience. As a CNA, you can be a member of the healthcare team in numerous facilities and enjoy the status of a certified healthcare provider.