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As a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant), sometimes called LNA (Licensed Nursing Assistant), you have enjoyed working with patients, helping with activities of daily living (ADLs), taking vital signs, and assisting the care team to help patients and families with care goals. Now you are thinking of continuing your education to become an RN to provide the care you see many nurses around you providing, but there are so many paths! Where to start, and which is best for you? Here are a few options to consider:

CNA to LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) to ADN (Associates Degree Nurse)

This is a great option to move your CNA knowledge to that of an LPN before continuing as an RN. LPN programs usually take about 18 months to accomplish, and the great news is many require CNA experience to even apply – check! LPNs do many of the same tasks as RNs, but similar to CNAs work under the delegation of the RN. This is a nice step from your current work. If you aren’t ready to take the full 18 months off to work, see if there are options to take some of the general required courses online. There are other options to be able to continue working and getting paid to go to school at the end of this blog!

CNA to ADN (Associates Degree Nurse)

As a CNA, you can apply to an Associates Degree Nursing program. The pre-requisites include high school diploma or GED. There may be additional “general education” courses or “gen eds” you may need to take before applying. ADN programs typically last 2 years, but there are some accelerated ones out there as well. Many community colleges who offer ADN programs are partnering with state universities to make transferring for additional degrees like BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) streamlined if you choose that path. Many healthcare settings are hiring ADNs and BSNs, so this is a great route to go to start your career sooner than the BSN path.

CNA to BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing)

@ Your PTCA Bailey on Instagram discusses her journey from CNA to RN 

There are many hospitals who have a Magnet designation, that seek to hire more BSNs over ADN nurses, so if you are hoping to be hired in one of those hospitals and want to increase your chances, as a CNA you can apply right into a BSN program. BSN degrees are also required for the next step of an MSN if you would like to be in leadership or education someday. Having CNA experience will be great to speak to in your application! BSN programs are traditionally 4 years and include many general education courses. There are some BSN programs where you may be able to take many of the curriculum courses online, but clinicals and some specific nursing classes and science labs like anatomy will be only in person. The BSN path often will still allow you to work as a CNA through school, although it’s important not to work in all your non-class time because you’ll need some of that to study and enjoy life!

As you can see there are many paths to meet your current needs. The good news for you as a CNA is that if you look around, many health care settings are in desperate needs of CNAs, LPNs and RNs, and some will pay in full for you to obtain your degree, or part of that. Additionally, there are programs out there that may support you continuing to work, get paid full time, but 1-2 days a week you are allowed to go to school. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and if that’s not an option, the time is now for you to negotiate time and money you need for school!

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