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CNA to RN: How Do I Do It?

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Many CNAs don’t stay in the profession for long. In fact, a good number of CNAs go on to pursue higher positions in the health care field such as registered nurses (RN) and licensed practical nurses (LPN). However, those looking to become registered nurses or licensed practical nurses will have to attend more schooling to earn the necessary certification. But if you’re a CNA right now, the good news is that you won’t have to quit your job as a CNA while you complete your education to become a RN, which can help a lot to pay for RN classes. So are you wondering what it takes to move from a CNA to RN? We’ll explain how to do it here!

CNA to RN: How Do I Do It?

You already have a huge advantage as a CNA if you want to make the jump to a registered nurse (RN). There are CNA to RN bridge programs available that take into account your previous training as a CNA and transfers those credits towards your education as a RN. This allows you accelerate your education as a RN and helps you to finish classes in less time and spend less money. Typical RN programs last around 2 years for an associate’s degree and 4 years for a bachelor’s degree, but you can shorten that amount of time by about a year with your previous CNA training credits applied. A CNA to RN program is the second fastest way to become a RN, trumped only by LPN to RN programs. What is also great is that you can continue working as a CNA to help pay for classes. If you want to become an RN, we’d like to point out that it’s a very stable job right now and RNs are in high demand. You also have the opportunity to make much more as a registered nurse; typical CNA annual salaries vary around $27,000 to $30,000, while an average RN makes about $68,000 a year.

CNA to RN Bridge Program Requirements

cna to rn bridge programs - cna classes onlineCNA to RN programs can be found at various institutions such as community colleges, vocational schools, trade schools, and universities. These institutions often have a ladder program where you can advance from a CNA to LPN, LPN to RN, or a CNA to RN. They work by allowing you to transfer credits you have previously earned towards your education to a higher position. RN programs will consist of three parts: classroom lecture, laboratory training, and clinical work. Costs can vary for these programs, and typical requirements can differ from state to state, but will usually include:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Completion of a state approved CNA class
  • Formal work experience as a CNA
  • High school diploma or equivalent (e.g. GED)
  • Prerequisite courses completed
  • Minimum SAT or ACT scores
  • Overall GPA of at least 2.0 or higher
  • CPR certification

What Will I Learn in RN Classes?

Normal RN program will cover the following topics, while you may have already covered some of them if you are enrolled in a CNA to RN bridge program:

Knowledge / Theory

  • Anatomy & composition
  • Basic RN duties
  • Microbiology
  • Chemistry
  • Family health & community care
  • Psychology
  • Nutrition
  • Types of disease & medical treatment
  • Nursing practice & theory
  • Safety & health procedures

Clinical / Laboratory Training

  • Administration of IVs and medication
  • Monitoring patient’s insulin and glucose levels
  • Assisting patients
  • How to draw blood
  • Supervision training
  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Reporting skills
  • Sterilization of health equipment

After successfully completing a CNA to RN program, you will be awarded a certificate in nursing at which point you are qualified to take the state certification and NCLEX-PN exam to become an official RN.

Ways to Pay for CNA to RN Training

Costs for RN training can run pretty high depending on whether you choose an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree, and you will need some way of paying for classes if you don’t want to take out loans. Here are a few ways you can lower the cost of training:

  • Online RN course –  Costs for online classes are typically much lower than on campus classes. Be aware that you will have to attend on campus sites for clinical and laboratory training however.
  • Ask your employer – If you are very passionate about nursing and demonstrate remarkable talent, your employer might help to cover some of the costs of RN training.
  • Scholarships – You can search online for any possible scholarships for RN training.
  • Financial aid – If you are financially bootstrapped you can also apply for financial aid to help cover the cost of training.
  • Continue working as a CNA – You can also choose to take RN classes part time while you continue to work as a CNA.