Be an Aide First
It used to be optional to become a nurse's aide first, but today, many nursing schools require applicants to have had some experience in the health care field. Even for those schools that don't require it yet, employment or volunteer work in a related health care facility may make the difference between being accepted and having to be placed on a waiting list to reapply to an overcrowded program.Becoming an Aide
Basic training as a nurse's aide is usually found through an adult education program in your community. Some community colleges and vocational schools also offer CNA training. Each state regulates nurse's aides and the certificate programs. Nurse's aides are not licensed medical personnel. The training usually takes six to nine weeks and provides 120–150 hours of classroom and hands-on instruction.
Nurse's aides are allowed to assist in the care of patients in such tasks as taking and reporting vital signs and activities of daily living (ADLs) such as feeding, bathing, oral hygiene and nail care, dressing, transferring, and walking.
This experience will offer you exposure to patient care and the basics of bedside nursing. You will see nurses in action and gain an inside edge in better understanding the roles and functions of the health care team.Advantages of Being an Aide
One of the advantages that this experience requirement provides to schools is that it helps candidates to find out for themselves whether nursing is what they imagined it to be.
Many nursing schools now require applicants to have some experience in the health care field and the primary option is to become a nurse's aide. However, some schools will accept any experience in health care such as a front-office position in an M.D.'s office or a ward clerk/secretary in a hospital. Review the entrance requirements carefully and, if necessary, contact the dean of the nursing institution with the specifics of your particular position for prior approval.
It also serves to provide potential nursing students with a firsthand sense of what nurses actually do, the responsibilities and also a better understanding of the need for a strong background in science and math. Those students with health care experience tend to be more successful in nursing programs.
The primary advantage to the student is that he or she can work part-time as an aide while attending nursing school. As an aide, the student can earn a reasonable wage in an environment that understands the need for flexible options and scheduling around their classes.
Although many schools may discourage students from working, this is often not possible financially. Working as an aide also gives students access to their most valuable resource: nurses.