Going from being a CNA to RN

Advancing from a C.N.A. to a Registered Nurse can be quite challenging but with a little preparation, planning, and determination, the transition can be a little easier.  As a C.N.A., you have excelled in basic patient care and have firmly grasped some of the general information regarding disease etiology and symptoms.  You are well aware that transitioning from a C.N.A. to an R.N. would most definitely bode well for your bank account, and in all probability, you already have a basic understanding regarding the responsibilities of the R.N.  What you need to do now is to find out if you are ready to embark on the journey that will get you from C.N.A. to R.N.

The Registered Nurse is the top tier of the nursing staff.  Just below the Physicians, the R.N. is responsible for performing assessments, providing advanced patient monitoring and care, and overseeing other members of the nursing staff.  Therefore, the R.N. is entitled to receive a considerable amount of pay.  The average C.N.A. salary is around $6.00 to $12.00 an hour.  The average R.N. salary can be $20.00 to $40.00 an hour depending on the level of experience, location, field of practice and overtime.  Pay could be even more rewarding in a specialty area such as Cardiology, Surgery or Dialysis.

The R.N. has many responsibilities in the health care field.  The R.N. is responsible for managing the nursing staff and is often the designated charge nurse.   The Registered Nurse must report findings to the Physician and will carry out the tasks requested via written or verbal order.  The R.N. can perform any task that a C.N.A. is able to perform, but a C.N.A may not perform many duties carried out by the R.N.  A Registered Nurse can start I.V. and PICC lines, administer I.V. meds and I.V. push meds, administer injections, and must be able to perform many procedures under the loose supervision of the attending Physician.   A Registered Nurse must be current in her knowledge of medications, including drug interactions, medical procedures.  He or she must be skilled in patient care and must be extremely organized regarding care for each person.  He or she must have an extensive knowledge of the disease process and is responsible to develop a plan of care to provide the best treatment for each patient on an individual basis.

The R.N. program takes around 2 years to complete.  You must apply to an accredited school of nursing and be accepted into the R.N. program before you are able to attend.  It is a wise decision to apply to more than one school to increase your chances of acceptance.  There is no experience required to apply to a school of nursing.  Many first year students have never had any medical experience to speak of.  Once you have been accepted into the nursing program, there are several pre-requisite courses that must be completed.

The R.N. program itself is based on 2 parts.  The first is theory, which is your education by way of reading, testing and learning the attributes of paperwork for which the R.N. is responsible.  You will probably be asked to create a plan of care for a patient, learn about medications and how to administer them, study in depth, the systems of the body including their functions and the diseases and treatments associated with each of them.  The second part of the Nursing program is your clinical training, which will allow you to perform duties as an R.N. under the supervision of a functioning staff within a clinical setting.  In these clinical rotations, you will learn to get comfortable to provide direct care for patients on an individual basis and will discover some of the basic duties of the R.N. in a staff environment.

Upon completion of the R.N. program, you must then take and pass the licensure test for your state, the NCLEX-RN.  Many do not pass the exam on the first try.  However, if you fail the exam on your first attempt you can retake the test at a later date.   Your education does not end after receiving your R.N. license.  You are required to complete periodic, on the job training courses, which will be provided by your employer, and you must keep yourself up to date regarding new procedures, equipment and medications, while continuing to maintain a current certification in your life saving course and current R.N. licensure as mandated by your state.

Progressing from a C.N.A. to a R.N. can be challenging notion but can be accomplished with a little determination and planning.  There are so many opportunities available for a working R.N. and the pay increase is an added benefit as well.  If you want to step up your education and increase your opportunities within the field of health care, then this is a perfect transition for you.  As long as you are prepared that transitioning from C.N.A. to R.N. will require a positive attitude and some effort on your part, you can be well on your way to joining a lucrative profession that is challenging, competitive, and ever evolving.

Also read:

Going from CNA to LPN

Being a professional in the nursing industry

Ethical and Legal Issues you should keep in mind

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