Considering going from a CNA to RN? If you’re an experienced CNA and have been thinking about becoming a nurse, this post is for you. Nursing school is a big step, but there is nobody more well-positioned to take on the realities of working on a busy ward than a nurse who has spent some time “in the field” as a CNA. However, sometimes the ins and outs of the application process can seem like a bit of a headache. Sadly, something as simple as this can put people off of chasing their dream…but that’s where we come in.
This post will guide you, the experienced CNA, through a few of the options available to you in order to successfully become a registered nurse. What’s more, you need not stop there; you may find that nursing school suits you so well you may just decide to stay a while, obtaining a Bachelors, Masters, or even a Doctorate degree! It’s up to you, the world is your oyster.
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Option 1: CNA to LPN to RN
If you are already a CNA and want to start your nursing career in a short amount of time, you may be able to do so with a Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) Program. Licensed Practical Nursing was created in the 40s as a means to get care workers into the nursing workforce in a short amount of time. LPN programs can be found at many vocational and community colleges across the country.
One of the main differences between an LPN and a Registered Nurse (RN), is that an LPN has a narrower scope of practice, and this may vary from state to state. While there are still many LPN programs out there that will get you into the workforce quickly with your CNA experience, there are elements to an LPN program that should be a consideration in your decision-making process. For years, many hospitals have been threatening to do-away with the LPN model, as they prefer the nationally-regulated scope of practice of the RN. There are also many nursing disciplines that may not be available to you as an LPN, especially if you’re interested in working in a high-acuity environment.
If you do decide to go with an LPN program, be sure to select one that offers an LPN to RN bridge program, so that you may continue to pursue your career goal of becoming a Registered Nurse. Having been through LPN school will make your RN training easier, and a quick transition to RN status is possible. However, if becoming an RN is your ultimate goal, you may prefer to just take the most direct route and select RN training right out of the gate.
Option 2: CNA to RN, 2-year Associates Degree
Many vocational and community colleges offer a 2-year (if you attend full-time) Associates degree that leads to RN licensure. There is usually an option to attend these programs part-time if you are looking to do so. Many of these 2-year programs will also have a CNA to RN bridge program that may take into account your clinical experience as a CNA, allowing you to shave-off some elements of the program and save you both time and money.
You should also be aware that because of the great demand for nurses, there are waiting lists at many of the 2-year Associates programs in the country. Many of these programs, instead of choosing the most qualified applicants each application term, use a first-come-first serve or even a lottery basis to fill their programs with applicants who have met the minimum requirements. In some parts of the country, the wait can be extensive.
For most 2-year Associate bridge programs, there are certain minimum requirements. Some of these requirements include the following:
- High School Diploma or equivalent (GED)
- a GPA of 2.0 or higher
- Minimum SAT or ACT scores
- Prerequisite courses (usually math and science courses offered by whatever institution you are looking to do your degree with)
- Documentation of formal work experience as a CNA
Option 3: CNA to BSN 4-year Bachelors degree, or RN to BSN Bridge
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a traditional 4-year university degree. There are two ways to go about obtaining a BSN; via direct application to the university’s nursing program, or via an RN to BSN program (provided your university has one). If you have an interest in going-on to become an advanced practice nurse like a Nurse Practitioner or Midwife, you will eventually need to get a BSN.
In order to apply to a BSN program outright, you will need to meet the particular University’s requirements for admission. While each university may be slightly different, some of the more common general requirements include:
- college preparatory mathematics, English, science, social science, and a foreign language
- SAT or ACT scores
- a GPA > 2.5
Please note that requirements are different for different institutions. With university requirements, the minimum requirements set forth are just that, minimum requirements. To make your application stand-out, you will want to undertake the most rigorous academic courses you can get your hands on in order to exceed the minimum standard.
However, the traditional path to University admission is not for everyone. Because nursing is such a high-demand field, universities have taken great steps to ensure that their admissions are as inclusive as they can be within the confines of their minimum criteria. Therefore, even if you do not meet all of the requirements to apply to a university outright, it is still possible for you to obtain your BSN. One of the ways to do this is to earn your 2-year associates degree first, then enter one of the many RN to BSN bridge programs that are offered at many universities around the country.
An example of some common requirements for an RN to BSN program include the following:
- a minimum GPA of 2.0
- a 2-year Associates degree in Nursing
- current licensure as a Registered Nurse
Additionally, students entering into an RN to BSN bridge program are often able to get course credit for certain work experience they have with their current nursing jobs. While every institution is different, all things told, it makes the path to earning a 4-year degree within reach for many nurses who, for whatever reason, would not have considered it otherwise.
If you are considering going from a CNA to RN, hopefully we have given you some options worth pursuing. You may also want to consider different nursing specialties if you really want to grow your career. If going to Nursing School gives you anxiety, look at some of these Nursing School quotes for motivation.