After completing program, passing your exam and earning your Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, license, you are eligible to start applying for jobs. Almost immediately, though, you may discover that some of the desirable employers and positions are reserved for CNAs with decent amounts of experience. As frustrating as this may be, it makes sense. Employers have more faith in employees who can demonstrate their abilities, and a solid work history is one of the top things they look for. Don't be discouraged. Everyone has to start somewhere, and there are plenty of ways to speed up the process of gaining relevant work experience as a CNA.
Top 5 Ways to Gain Work Experience as a CNA
You won't struggle to find jobs as a CNA when you're new to the field, but you're likely to be stuck with a low pay and less-than-favorable schedule at first. Keep these tips in mind to more quickly demonstrate to employers that you have the experience that is needed to warrant better jobs and better pay.
- Do Some Volunteering - Even though you're likely to be pretty worn out when you're not on the clock, try to volunteer a little at local hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Nursing homes and hospices are especially good places to look. Your volunteering efforts will expose you to new situations, and they will show prospective employers that you are truly committed to your career.
- Try Traveling - If you keep striking out when looking for a specific CNA job, consider traveling a little. You will be licensed in your state, but that doesn't mean you can't earn your license elsewhere. Traveling could also just mean being willing to commute farther for the jobs you want. The more places you're exposed to, the more attractive a candidate you will be to employers in the future.
- Be Proactive - CNAs often stick strictly to their job titles and rarely ask for different things to do. That's a mistake because proactively asking your employer to be tasked with different jobs or checking to see if your help is needed elsewhere reflects very positively on you as an employee. As an added bonus, it allows you to pick up new skills that are sure to come in handy later.
- Earn Certifications - You typically must earn your CPR certification to enroll in a CNA educational program. Many hospitals and other organizations offer other certifications, and they can really help round out your resume. Additionally, they sometimes require you to learn about entirely different topics, which can also help add to your work experience and make you more appealing to employers. You can't have too many certifications, so see what's out there and go for it.
- Try Different Work Environments - Most new CNAs know exactly where they'd like to work. For example, perhaps you have your heart set on working in a hospital. You may not like the idea of working in nursing homes or private homes, but it pays to gain experience in such environments. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and take jobs in places you ordinarily wouldn't consider. This will show that you are flexible, and it will help you gain many new skills.
Don't wait for experience to find you as a CNA. If you want to qualify for good positions and command a good pay, you need to be proactive about it by putting yourself in more challenging situations and giving it your all every day on the job.