The CNA (certified nursing assistant) is considered by some as the first step into taking care of patients in a medical environment. Some people choose to stay in the CNA position for their entire career while others use this as an opportunity to advance in the medical field. The natural order of advancement is to study for the position of LPN (licensed vocational nurse) and then climb one step further to become an RN or registered nurse. The LPN step is not necessary however and the CNA has the option of skipping this step entirely.
The first step in becoming a CNA, is to begin attending CNA classes. Your CNA certification classes will ensure you receive the proper training for your new career as a nursing assistant. After your CNA classes and training is complete, you will need to apply for a license in your state. Often the license examinations are administered by the state nursing board, but some states contract private parties, such as Pearson Vue, to administer the test. When successfully passed, the state will issue you your CNA certification license, and you will be cleared to apply for jobs as a nursing assistant. After several years as a proven CNA, you may wan to think about moving up to an LPN or RN position to further your nursing career.
How to Become an RN
Nurses who have determined that they are ready to take on greater responsibilities and become registered can choose the option of a two-year associate degree. The subjects that are required will include anatomy, nutrition and chemistry. This can usually be achieved from a community college that has been accredited in the field of nursing. Many of these institutions offer specific programs that are geared to facilitate the CNA to RN transition otherwise referred to in the educational system of nursing as a bridge.
Stepping Up from a CNA
The responsibilities of a registered nurse are far greater than that of a CNA. Another option for transitioning to a registered nurse would be through a university or college. The student will need to earn a degree that includes a bachelor of science in nursing. The last option is generally chosen if the student has not yet entered the workforce and has no financial responsibilities. The CNA can also work and study in a teaching hospital where they can earn an RN diploma, however, that option requires a three year term.
Bridging The Gap Between CNA and RN
The bridge between the CNA and the RN is probably one of the more popular transition programs available. Students interested in this option will need to be at least eighteen years of age, and have successfully completed all prerequisites. The main obligation is that the applicant has to be employed as a CNA in a hospital environment. Supporting documents will need to be proof of certification and at least a 2.0 GPA. The greatest advantage of this last option is the reduction in time and the ability to remain employed while completing the transition from CNA to RN. Contact your state nursing board for specific information on the official requirements for the CNA to RN transition.