For students who elect to pursue a career in the medical field, especially nursing, the chance and opportunity to be part of a functional healthcare system presents thrilling prospects. Despite having basic training during the first year in college, one cannot be really sure what to expect in a nursing profession. In order to attain this crucial experience firsthand, nursing students are strongly encouraged to become Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). This experience provides a nursing student with professional experience that is vital not only for the students’ psychological preparation in embracing their career, but also vital as it offers essential training before a professional can become an RN.
There are numerous benefits of becoming a CNA. First and foremost, there are no prerequisites required. A student will only require a GED to join a CNA program. A high school diploma is also acceptable. These are extremely friendly terms as they do not require a student to take certain courses or degrees before joining the program. Moreover, one can join the program as early as possible in his profession in order to really find out if he is comfortable with being a nurse. The remunerations of a CNA are also competitive. Most CNAs have a salary of between $ 29,000 and $ 50,000 annually. This is a suitable pay for an upcoming professional. It is worth noting that the more experience one attains while being a CNA, the more money one earns. Therefore, at the end of the program, one will not only go back to college with sufficient experience, knowledge and skills, but also have an opportunity to earn some good money.
Another significant benefit attained as a CNA is that it is a stepping stone to a more fulfilling and professionally satisfying job. It places a person at an advantage if one chooses to become a registered nurse (RN). Becoming a CNA, before transitioning to a RN, one receives basic training that is essential for this transition. It prepares a nurse what to expect, what to do and how to do it in a meticulous and professional way. This is because a CNA works in the same setting, same ambience and sometimes same conditions as a RN. Apart from helping a student sharpening his skills, CNA programs provide one with valuable experience and training that will assist a person when he or she becomes a RN to get a job easily.
During my time as a CNA, I had a worthwhile experience that was instrumental in shaping the direction I will take in my career. Of all the numerous tasks and responsibilities of a CNA, I was most involved in patient care, patient room upkeep and learning essential communication skills between a nurse and a patient. While undertaking patient care I had to handle moving patients from one room to another, bathing and dressing, grooming, oral care and feeding patients among other vital skills. Even though I thought I was completed prepared for the experience coming from college, dealing with patients on a practical basis was overwhelming. When I was attached to the ICU, I had a unique experience. Apart from dealing with a lot of feces on almost an hourly basis, which was extremely disgusting during my first week, I had also the chance to do real nursing work. While in the ICU we did full patient care. The patients in these rooms are so delicate and fragile that they can die any minute. I recall the first day I was assigned to the ICU patient care department. The hospital was having a shortage of nurses and I had to work with my preceptor the whole day. The excitement of being allocated to the ICU died minutes after we began makings rounds. One patient was peculiar. He was suffering from a C. difficile. He had at least a watery diarrhea within every 15 minutes. This was a completely new experience. I felt nauseated and sick having to clean him every 15 minutes. Moreover, he also suffered from severe abdominal pains. Therefore, it was not easy to clean him quickly. One had to treat him tenderly as he was extremely fragile. My preceptor was encouraging and assisted me cope with the mess. The situation had a lot of responsibility and one had to think critically before embarking on any procedure. The experience in the ICU is totally a different animal from that of taking care of patients in the regular wards where CNAs have regular conversation with patients. Even though I did not enjoy my stay at the ICU, when I look back I appreciate the experience. It was fundamental especially in training me as an anesthesiologist, which is a role that not only requires a lot of responsibility, but also skill, experience and competent training. I can now be able to comfortably monitor a patient’s anesthesia. Moreover, I can also monitor a patient undergoing surgery as I have learned and mastered the subtle changes that matter during such crucial operations.
As a CNA I had to be extremely careful with patients. One day I had to bath, dress and groom a grumpy old man. Even though he was delicate and weak, the man was able to talk. He kept complaining about everything. He complained about the water and that I was not smooth enough. However, when I had to do the same duty the next day, I began getting used to him and devised ways to make him more comfortable than before. Being a CNA was extremely beneficial to my career. I learnt how to give patients shots, how to insert Foleys, how to administer medicines and how to handle NG tubes. I learnt most of these things early into the program and with time I learnt how to be both efficient and effective. Medical students are not only encouraged to receive such essential training, but they must realize that it is essential because experience in the medical field is an indispensable asset.
There are numerous merits of being a CNA as a nurse student. One is able to receive free education and training in nursing that will vital in assisting him or her develop his career. One also gets a fulfilling satisfaction by being in a position to help. Helping others gives a person a natural feeling of satisfaction and makes one feel worthy. It also provides an opportunity for a person to advance his or her career. More significantly, the greatest benefit one acquires by being a CNA as a nursing student is discovering oneself. One is able to ascertain whether being a nurse is the profession one so desires or whether to re-examine the available choices.
Feist-Heilmeier, C. (2008). Nurses Are from Heaven: Nursing Through Eyes of Faith. New york: Xulon Press.
Fitzpatrick, J. J. (2009). The Doctor of Nursing Practice and Clinical Nurse Leader: Essentials of Program Development and Implementation for Clinical Practice. New York: Springer Publishing Company.