How to Become an RN If You Are a CNA

How to Become an RN If You Are a CNA
Last Updated: |   Staff Writers |   Basics

Like many aspiring nurses, you may have decided to jump quickly into the workforce by becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA. There are many advantages to moving forward to become a Registered Nurse (RN), however, and doing so is easier than you probably think. There are many ways to get there, and you can hold down a job as a CNA while pursuing your RN license. This will mean a lot of extra work for now, but the long-term benefits are considerable.

Top 5 Tips for CNAs Who Want to Become RNs

Whether you don't find the work challenging enough, want higher pay, or have always planned on becoming an RN at some point, advancing from being a CNA to an RN is a smart career move. Keep the following five tips in mind to ensure a smooth and easy transition:

  1. Recognize the Benefits - After working as a CNA for a while, you may be comfortable in your career. Change can be scary, so the idea of going back to school to become an RN may seem daunting. However, the benefits are considerable and include higher pay, more flexibility, improved job security, diverse career advancement opportunities, and more. Once you realize the advantages of becoming an RN, making the switch won't seem so overwhelming.
  2. Choose an Educational Path - There are many paths you can follow to become an RN. In many ways, the process is easier once you have your CNA license because you're already familiar with how the schooling works. A quick route to becoming an RN is to enroll in a CNA-to-RN bridge program, which lets you earn your Associate Degree in Nursing, or ADN, in as little as one year. Earning an ADN the traditional way usually takes around two years. If you'd like to leave your options open long into the future, however, pursuing your four-year nursing degree may be a good choice. This means enrolling in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN, program. You'll spend a few years completing prerequisites and a few more completing RN-related coursework and clinical work.
  3. Complete Your Studies - Whether you opt for a bridge program, a traditional ADN program, or a traditional BSN program, you will most likely have to complete at least a few general education requirements. From there, you'll take courses in subjects such as biology, anatomy, physiology, and chemistry. Clinical work in the field is required as well, and it tends to be more advanced and involved in BSN programs than it is in ADN programs.
  4. Take the NCLEX-RN - Whichever program you choose will prepare you for the RN licensing exam, the NCLEX-RN. You must take and pass it in order to receive your license.
  5. Receive Your RN License - As long as you've completed the requirements mandated by your state board of nursing, including passing the NCLEX-RN, you will receive your RN license. Needless to say, this will be a proud moment. With your license in hand, you will be eligible to apply for jobs as a Registered Nurse.

By becoming and working as a CNA before becoming an RN, you will have relevant work experience under your belt when you are ready to apply for RN positions. This will not only make it that much easier to find employment as a Registered Nurse, but it may also even open up additional opportunities in the future.

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