Should You Get Your CNA Certification Before Applying to Nursing School?


Having your CNA certification can never hurt, but is it really worth it?  It really depends on who you are and what your goals are. In some cases money and time could be the deciding factor of not getting your CNA certification.  If tuition cost is a reason, places like nursing homes or hospitals offer free nursing classes. For that tuition could be waived, if you commit to working for them for a minimum amount of time. For those with limited options and resources, it may be your best bet to get your self established with a CNA certification and make some connections in the hospital. Another popular option is that schools will offer CNA certification to pre-nursing students as one or two credit courses. This is designed for students receiving financial so they don’t have to go competing schools.

CNA Certification

There are some people that believe that those who were CNA’s before going to school to become a LPN or RN is potentially a disadvantage!  It’s hard to believe, but true. Many CNA’s have worked “on the floor” in nursing homes, doctors offices and hospitals. From that experience they tend to learn the “real world” way of doing things and handling situations. In the classroom those bad habits are applied and work against the student and their grades. Having a job and getting the experience is a feather in your cap, but be careful. The good news is you can still get valuable experience through your clinicals. It is not uncommon for experienced CNA’s who have graduated as a registered nurse to have a difficult time getting hired in a place where they once worked as a certified nursing assistant.

There are many nursing schools today that require students to have their CNA certification in order to get accepted to their nursing program. Eliminating redundancy for some and saving time is their belief. Many of the skills learned in the early semesters have been previously learned in CNA certification programs. Many schools will spend a few weeks covering information that a percentage of the class is already familiar with. Many believe that their time could have been better spent learning more valuable skills such as bathing a patient, transferring them , taking their vital signs, medication administration and assessment. This has already been taught during lab time in the CNA programs and is obviously inefficient.

It’s always a good idea to check with the schools you are interested in before applying to determine if being a CNA is a requirement. Don’t expect to get any preference in the admission process if you are a certified nursing assistant.  You will be forced with a decision to work and get experience or put that time and effort into another nursing program and focus more on studying.  Forward thinking students have put great efforts and have reaped great rewards by finding local offered nursing externships and consistentlyapplying for them. The experience is invaluable and the job prospects could be better than if you were working as a CNA. Patient care experience is invaluable, but not required.

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