How an NA Certification Can Help Prepare for Nursing School


It is an old proverb that advances the idiom, “One must learn to walk before one can learn to run.” Simply stated, gathering the prerequisite skills before advancing in one’s field or avocation is the key to knowing the ins-and-outs of a future career. For prospective nursing students who are contemplating entering the medical field, there are some pretty compelling reasons to beginning their registered nursing (RN) career as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). From gaining a thorough understanding of the work-a-day world of a professional nurse to discovering whether or not they have the aptitude to stomach such a demanding career, the CNA position is an excellent proving ground for would-be nurses.

While there are many differences between a nursing and nursing assistant program, they do have several characteristics in common. As a result, students who have already obtained their NA certification have a competitive advantage to those with no medical background at all.

Similar Duties and Responsibilities

One of the best ways to learn whether a person will enjoy working in a particular profession is to expose them to the duties and responsibilities of the job. Needless to say, there is a great deal of overlap between the duties of a registered nurse and to those of a certified nursing assistant. From exposure to a similar working environment to comparable daily duties like caring after and monitoring of patient’s medical conditions, working as a CNA is a wonderful proving ground for those candidates looking to attend an accredited registered nursing program. Duties such as monitoring patients’ blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen level, waste output, and fluid intake are just a few examples of the tasks a RN will already have learned from being a CNA. In short, working as a CNA offers an excellent glimpse into the knowledge and ability required to pursue a nursing career while getting paid for their efforts.

Personal Skills of the Successful RN and CNA

In addition to the breadth of knowledge required to successfully pursue a career in nursing, the successful nurse demands a particular temperament to suggest the candidate will thrive in the medical environment. The same is true of certified nursing assistants. There are many things that are not taught in a classroom, and experiencing them on a day to basis is the only way to determine whether the emotional skill sets of a particular nursing candidate are adequate to a career in nursing. For instance, such personal skills as empathy, patience, good communication, and time management are all integral parts of the nurse’s world and the successful CNA career provides daily opportunities to hone those skills. Finally, working in the medical field requires a strong stomach and working as a certified nursing assistant offers all the chances in the world to determine whether their stomach is up to the task.

A Competitive Advantage

Even in an employment environment that is searching for suitable candidates to fill the many positions open in the United States healthcare field, an even more competitive drive is afoot to fill the nation’s nursing schools. Typically speaking, nursing school admission boards are looking to fill coveted seats with motivated candidates, and they view those prospects who already hold a certified nursing assistant certificate as being well on their way to proving that they have earned a spot in a competitive academic program.

CNA Certification Offers a Career Leg Up

There are many paths to success in the medical field and all of them are built on the building a bank of continuous knowledge, skills, and experience. As mentioned above, “One must learn to walk before one can learn to run,” and beginning that career in a CNA program is a great place to begin those wobbly, hesitant steps. Once mastered, newly minted CNAs can easily transition those skills to a more advanced registered nursing program. Combined with the skills earned on the job as a CNA, an RN candidate is much more likely to succeed in both the classroom and hospital ward. Even though the workload, program length, tuition cost, and level of difficulty are all increased in an RN program, the best way to prepare for it is by attending a “mini version” first.

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