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If you're thinking about pursuing a career as a nurse, becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, is a logical place to start. Many people skip past this step and proceed directly to working toward their Registered Nurse, or RN, license. However, there are some pretty compelling reasons for becoming a CNA first. By learning about them, you can make a more informed decision about the path you'll take to eventually become an RN.
If you indeed want to become an RN, you should consider becoming a CNA first, as there are lots of benefits you will get by doing so. A handful of examples include:
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Fast, Affordable Schooling
Unlike nursing school, which take anywhere from two to four years to complete and is usually pretty expensive, schooling to become a CNA is fast and affordable. CNA Programs usually run for four to 12 weeks. If you complete your schooling with a hospital or other employer, you may not have to pay a dime. Other programs cost anywhere from a over $500 to around $1,000. By becoming a CNA first, you will enter the nursing field, although as an assistant, sooner and get to see what the profession of a nurse is really like firsthand.
A Nursing School Requirement
Some nursing programs require prospective students to have CNA certifications to be considered for enrollment. They want to see that students are serious about pursuing careers as RNs and also prefer students who have at least some experience in the field. These same programs often also require students to have worked as a CNA for a certain length of time, as on-the-job experience helps them determine more accurately whether or not this type of work is right for them.
Exposure to Other Healthcare Positions
As a CNA, you will work closely with Registered Nurses, doctors, and a wide array of other healthcare professionals. You may discover that another healthcare position is a better fit for you by being in such close proximity to other professionals. Even if you're sure about your ultimate career goals, there's no harm in seeing what other jobs are like.
Excellent Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for CNAs is going to surge over the next decade or so. Indeed, job positions for CNAs are projected to increase by 21 percent between 2012 and 2022. Whether you plan to remain a CNA for your whole career or plan to move into registered nursing at some point, it's reassuring to know that you should never have any trouble finding gainful employment.
There's no way to sugarcoat this: working as a CNA is demanding. However, for the right person, it's also incredibly rewarding. Tough though their work may be, CNAs work closely with people who rely on them heavily. Every day, they make important differences in patients' lives. They experience many ups and downs throughout their days, but CNAs do find that the bright spots far outshine the dark ones. If you're looking for work that is meaningful and important, then, you can't go wrong by becoming a CNA.
Regardless of what your long-term career goals are, it pays to kick things off by becoming a CNA. With this step out of the way, you will be able to pursue all kinds of options later.