Good Morning everyone –
Today’s post is actually going to be a bit of a rehash from a post I previously wrote just shy of over a year ago called “Jobs for Nursing Students” ( check out that original post here ). When I originally wrote that post, I was still employed full time at a health insurance company as a case manager making a pretty comfortable living. At the time, I was absolutely terrified of leaving my cushy telecommuting and well-paying position to pursue nursing full time. Not only would we lose more than 1/2 of our family income, but I was also unsure if the path I wanted to take, nursing assistant , would be available to me.
Some of the questions I had in mind back then were:
- Do I HAVE to become a CNA?
- Is there a way to challenge the test?
(Becoming a CNA just prior to taking Fundamentals seemed silly to me)
- Is there a way to challenge the test?
- Which type of job will give me the most flexibility in scheduling?
- What is the pay like?
- READ: How much of a pay cut will this be for me…
Well, the reason I am revisiting the topic is that I am now an employed per diem nursing student at a large hospital system! Having gone through the experience first hand – I’d like to provide some of my personal insight… In essence, answering the questions 29-year-old scared Esther had for anyone else out there that may be facing the same crossroads. Without further ado, let’s get to it!
Q#1 Do I have to become a CNA?
I was, in fact, able to secure a Nursing Assistant job WITHOUT getting an official certification through Sharp Healthcare. I believe Tri-City hospital also offers the same “Nursing Assistant” position which does not require certification. These positions are specifically available for Nursing Students that have completed their 1st semester or at a minimum the “Foundations in Nursing” coursework & clinical. Since they’re aware you are in nursing school, and the CNA exam basically only covers foundations, they will waive that requirement which is typically necessary for other applicants who are not in a nursing program.
Q#2 Which type of job will give me the most flexibility in scheduling?
The type of job that provided the best flexibility with the number of shifts required as well as the actual schedule was a “per diem” position. My particular position has a 4 shift requirement per month. Two of those four shifts MUST be completed during the weekend, which begins at 3PM on Friday and ends at 11PM on Sunday. What I really like about my position is that I am able to schedule my own shifts on the days I prefer. I can sign up for additional shifts as I am able, and the only rule is that I DO NOT work more than 40 hrs per week. It has worked nicely for me as I can schedule all of my shifts back to back and have the rest of the month off, if I know I have exams coming up. Otherwise, I can take it easy and do one shift per week. For a rundown of the differences between a part-time job & a per diem job go to my other post here.
Q#3 What is the pay like?
The NA position I secured does not pay much, but to be fair I am comparing it to my previous salary which required a Bachelor’s degree and other training. NA positions on the other hand, typically only require Basic Life Support and Nursing Assistant certifications, which can be achieved rather quickly and require no advanced or higher education. On my previous post, I reported that the National Average Pay was between $10-13/hour. I found this to be pretty spot on… My specific position offered $14.83, which included a 10% higher rate due to the fact it was a per diem position.
One of the greatest things about the job thus far is that it offers great exposure to the hospital system. It also gives you a ggreat sense of the way a general day of the floor looks like for nurses! It is also a great opportunity to network with clinical leads, supervisors, managers and even directors. Additionally, it will give you some first-hand experience with the patient population in your area. In my department specifically, we act as a float pool for all of the hospitals (4) within the system, which means every day can be different. For example, I’ve been to 3 of the 4 hospitals, and have been to 10 different units/floors. All of these things together will come in handy when you need experiences and material to pull from in preparation for applications for New Grad RN residency programs. 🙂
That is all for today folks, I really hope this was helpful for someone out there!
Thank you for reading!
Love, Future RN Jando
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