Should Nurses be CNA’s or Techs Before Entering the Profession?

Before becoming a nurse, I had several years of experience working in the hospital. I started as a teenager working as a dietary aide, a sitter for suicide watch or fall risk patients, and a patient transporter. Later on, I gained experience as a healthcare assistant and a home health aide.  These first experiences in patient care exposed me to the good, the bad, and the ugly of healthcare which have been useful in my nursing career today.

A nurse fresh out of nursing school with no prior healthcare experience may:

  • Be more hesitant to enter a patient’s room for the very first time.
  • Feel awkward during their first interaction with the patient.
  • Find it difficult to build a rapport with their patients.
  • Be intimidated by asking fellow nurses questions or talking to doctors.

Having some healthcare experience before becoming a nurse:

  • Helps nursing students bridge the gap between the textbook and real life situations.
  • Improves engagement in class discussions and grades because of exposure to procedures and specific disease processes.
  • Can alleviate a new nurse’s anxiety about talking to patient’s for the very first time.
  • Makes it easier to consult with fellow nurses and physicians.

In my opinion, one of the greatest benefits of becoming a CNA or tech prior to starting a nursing career is the ability to empathize. Once you have been in the same shoes as someone, you understand their struggles. As nurses we delegate duties to others, however, this does not mean that we are above doing these duties ourselves!

What are your thoughts? Do you think that nurses should be CNA’s or patient techs first?

Comment below with your response.

2 thoughts on “Should Nurses be CNA’s or Techs Before Entering the Profession?

  1. YRawlsRN

    Hello! I can speak from the side of being a nurse without any prior healthcare experience and I definitely think that having that experience prior to taking the classes or joining the healthcare workforce would’ve bridged a big gap for me. Although, I wasn’t timid about the approach of talking to my patients or lacked the empathy needed to be compassionate to my patients, I struggled fitting the pieces together with some of the fundamentals of nursing vs what I learned from the book. And this was of great concern to me for quite some time.

    Nursing isn’t a career that goes directly by the book. There must be nursing judgement, competence, and confidence in the decisions that you have to make when caring for lives.
    I’ve worked with many CNAs that wanted to be nurses and took the opportunity to be educated on their patient’s experiences and having had those prior experiences made it easier for them in school and in their nursing career.

    Reflecting on myself, I know that I might have been able to correlate the two much quicker had I had some experience. I did, however, have a close family member with bladder cancer that I was able to care for that made this area of nursing a little easier for me. After this experience I recognized quickly that had I had more experiences prior to nursing school as a CNA or tech, I might not have felt so overwhelmed and anxious about my competence in nursing.

    Now having been a nurse for over 11 years I can say that every experience I’ve had has given me the confidence and competence to do what I love and that’s taking care of people. So I do believe having the experience as a CNA or tech can provide an advantage to the nursing career.


  2. Tosha

    I feel that it is important to understand the full nursing process. Sometimes nursing students have a different perception of what nursing entails. CNAs are a very important part of the whole nursing process. The more time you spend with patients, the more you critical thinking skills develop. It is definitely important to gain those skills by becoming a CNA first.


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