CNA to RN Career Path
The CNA to RN career path has grown to be pretty popular. Combine the fact that Baby Boomers and MDs are quickly reaching retirement age with a population that is growing faster every day, the resulting nursing shortage is well documented. The well-publicized nursing shortage has driven more aspiring nurses to enter nursing school than ever these days.
Just getting into a BSN program has grown increasingly difficult now that there are so many BSN applicants. Being able to afford a BSN program is another story as Universities and colleges charge a pretty penny for their four-year degrees. The CNA to RN career path below is a significantly cheaper way of becoming an RN than the traditional 4-year degree. It’s important to note that there isn’t a single state in the US that requires a nurse to have a 4-year degree.
The first step in the CNA to RN career path is to become a Certified Nurse Assistant. CNAs take vital signs and help patients bathe, dress, eat, get out of bed and even use the restroom. There isn’t a single healthcare provider that spends more time with patients than CNAs.
For one to become a CNA they need to be 18 years or older with high school degree or GED equivalent. Some states will permit 16 or 17-year-old applicants who have signed parental consent. To enroll in a state certified CNA program, you’d need to submit most of the following: proof of age, high school diploma, physical examination, proof of immunization, TB test, background check, cpr and first aid certification and a state issued ID.
Applicants will have to find a CNA training program that is approved by their state. You can find a list of state-approved CNA classes here. The training programs will consist of both classroom and clinical work and can take anywhere from 3 -14 weeks. The American Red Cross Offers Nurse Assistant Training (NAT) in 13 states with each state’s class tailored to the state’s individual requirements. The American Red Cross NAT class costs $1,300 dollars and range from 4-8 weeks in duration.
Once you’ve completed the necessary CNA training you have to pass the certification exam. Over 25 states, including California, use the National Nurse Aid Assessment Program, or the NNAAP. Feel free to take some practice tests here.
The 2 Next Steps
There are two next steps in the CNA to RN career path. You can either apply directly to an associate degree, or you can become an LVN first. You should consider becoming an LVN first because associate degrees are more expensive than becoming a Licensed Vocational Nurse.
If you take the aforementioned long route, you can work as a CNA while becoming an LVN. With online classes, it’s easier today to work and study at the same time than ever before. Also in the medical field, your hours can be day or nights and you can take classes during your time off with ease. Once you’ve become an LVN you can take online RN classes. This is a great CNA to RN career path because you’d be gaining experience and making money the entire time.
LVNs will work under the supervision of an RN or Physician. LVNs will perform basic nursing tasks such as checking blood pressure and heart rates, changing bandages or inserting catheters. LVNs will also report observations of patients to RNs and Physicians. LVNs will work with patients and families so it’s important for LVNs to be compassionate and diligent workers.
LVN training classes can be done part-time, online or at community colleges. The classes usually take 1 year but can take a year and a half or longer if completed part-time. Online CNA to LVN programs are a great way of making money during the day and furthering your career at night. CNAs make an average of $26,000 dollars per year which will more than cover LVN training classes.
Like CNA training classes, LVN training classes are made up of classroom hours and clinical hours. Clinical hours can take place at hospitals, nursing homes, hospice care facilities or even a doctor’s offices. During clinical hours LVN trainees will put their classroom material to use under the supervision of an LVN or RN.
Once a student passes their LVN training classes they have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nursing. The NCLEX-PN tends to have 85 questions and can take up to 5 hours.
LVN work usually takes place in long-term care centers and nursing homes. But LVNs can also work in hospitals, private clinics, and schools/daycares. According to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics, the median salary for an LVN is almost $44,000 dollars.
The next step in the CNA to RN career path is to obtain at least an Associate Degree in nursing. You can obtain an ADN online and local community colleges for significantly less money than any four-year institution. Yes, some private colleges offer 2-year ADs but those tend to be a little bit more pricey.
Yes, BSN graduates are often preferred, but it’s very possible to get a hospital or institution to help cover the costs of a BSN once working with an ADN. Azusa Pacific University for example has two programs for LVNs: One is LVN to BSN and the other is LVN to RN.
Corpsman to RN programs
Army/Navy Medics return home and want to put their skills to use. But until recently that has been tough. In 2014 Montgomery College began its Corpsman-to-ADN program that takes GI Bill or VA benefits for the 1-year program.
Medics make great nurses because they are disciplined, trained and the epitome of a team player. Punctuality and professionalism really make corpsmen stand out in nurse training classes. Medics returning to civilian life should strongly consider looking into travel nursing. Like military medics, travel nurses have to learn on the job and are always on the go.