Want to Be a Nurse? Don't Forget a CNA

Nursing as a field is exploding, in spite of the recession. If you're looking for work, you can expect nursing positions to be open anywhere, but especially in rural areas. Salaries are good, and you can advance into management, education and other fields afterwards. Sounds great, right? Oh, you only have a high school degree.

Even if you're already getting ready to start school to become a registered nurse or a BSN, an online diploma program to become a Certified Nursing Assistant can make a lot of sense. If you've never heard of it, you could be missing out on a way to help people and get paid in just a couple of months.

What is it?

A certified nursing assistant helps other medical professionals perform tasks with numerous patients. They may keep track of vital signs, or help nursing home residents with medication management for example. You are trained in medical terminology, bedside manner and how to work with various medical instruments.

What can I do with it?

For one, you can start building up experience in healthcare. Since you have received some training, you are able to do more with patients and those with healthcare needs. It's going to look a lot better on your resume than candy-striping as a volunteer. So when you start looking at jobs and are being assessed compared to other recent nursing graduates who heard the same thing about nursing job growth, you come out looking better.

Keep in mind, no one is pushing you to go out and spend more on education. There are countless CNAs who took an online diploma program and have been working with patients for years. It pays more than a minimum wage on a very small investment. We simply want to point out that it works to help you build a career on a number of different tracks.

Speaking of costs...

Many high schools offer vocational training to become a certified nursing assistant. Others include local community colleges, as well as for-profit online and offline options. Part of the appeal is that you can make several more dollars an hour than un-certified healthcare workers. Yet the amount of time it takes can be less than two months, and most programs only cost a few hundred dollars.

That's a return on investment that would make a stock broker's mouth water. And it's preparing you for even better opportunities down the line.

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