CNA to RN programs work in a few different ways. First, RN programs may offer a “bridge.” In other words, courses taken in a CNA program can be transferred and applied towards the nursing program. CNA programs include courses such as:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Personal care/patient hygiene
- Environmental care (e., bedmaking)
- Vital signs
- Special needs care
- Care of the patient with specific disorders (e.g., diabetes, neurological disorders, etc.)
- Medical terminology
These concepts are introduced either as a prerequisite to nursing programs, or in the first semester of nursing programs. Therefore, CNAs have an advantage when applying for nursing school.
Another method of pursuing an RN degree is to “test out” of required prerequisite courses. Many times, nurse assistants who have been at the bedside for several years or more have gained the essential knowledge needed, and therefore taking certain prerequisite courses are unnecessary. There are a few test prep programs available, such as the one by Achieve Test Prep.
Returning to school is a momentous decision. Often, those looking to advance their education or degree are already working or raising families. Therefore, some level of flexibility is needed to make it work. Thankfully, in today’s digital age some RN courses can be completed online. While the clinical portion of the nursing program needs to be on-site, nursing theory and prerequisites can be done via distance learning.
This is extremely beneficial for those in a CNA to RN program. Even for those looking to “test out” of certain courses have an advantage, as test preps can be done online or via a “hybrid” option.
CNA to RN Program Cost
The cost of CNA to RN programs can vary greatly. Cost depends on the school, program, state, and even city. Cost may range from the low-thousands to over $10,000 or more per year. Community colleges are less expensive than four-year universities. Private colleges/universities may cost even more. Additionally, tuition is one factor- supplies, books, transportation, and living expenses are all additional costs. However, most schools offer financial aid, and sometimes grants are available. Prospective students are encouraged to browse websites and campuses to find the options that best fit their needs.
CNA to RN Program Curriculum
The curriculum in a CNA to RN program (bridge or otherwise) varies between schools, and also varies based on what courses the student was able to transfer or test out of. Depending on the student and the school, students may skip the nursing fundamentals and focus on more advanced nursing skills such as:
- Physical assessment
- Nursing care plans
- Population-specific care
A key point when becoming an RN is to utilize the nursing process when caring for patients. Which means assessing, formulating a nursing diagnosis, planning and implementing a treatment plan, and evaluating the results. This process does not come easily- it takes practice and can only be mastered via nursing school and practicing as an RN.
Registered nurses are currently in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth of 15% until 2026, which is a much faster-than-average growth. An aging population and recent healthcare legislation have caused an increased demand for healthcare services. More patients require care as the baby-boomer population ages. Those with a bachelor’s degree in nursing may have an advantage when looking for employment. Learn more about the various RN careers and becoming an RN.
The bulk of registered nurses work in the inpatient, or hospital, setting. The top four employment industries include:
- Physician offices
- Home Health Care Services
- Nursing Facilities
- Outpatient care centers