Nursing is a highly sought-after career path. Being able to save lives and provide care drives most students to choose nursing. Although the pay scale helps, it never becomes the primary reason. 

As nursing requires an undergrad degree or experience, certified nursing assistant degrees are considered a stepping stone for the interested lot.  

How to Get a Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) Degree

Most healthcare professionals who are interested in pursuing nursing but aren’t yet qualified to take the BSN exam, get certified with a CNA degree to work directly with nurses and doctors — gaining experience. 

While the minimum requirements to appear on the test varies by state, typically, you’re required to complete a state-approved CNA program. 

Before taking the exam, ensure that you’ve completed the minimum clinical/CNA training time inflicted by the state. 

As each state has a different buffer time between completion of the program and date of application, get informed about it to miss the opportunity. 

You also need to fill out the application form, pay applicable fees, and complete background checks to finally appear for the exam. 

Following your completion of the program and paperwork, you need to prepare for your CNA exam. And since human lives depend on your actions as a nursing assistant, the exams don’t take indolence kindly. 

A two-part exam pattern is maintained throughout the states: 

  • A written part consisting of MCQ questions is conducted through third-party test proctors. The syllabus includes roles and responsibilities, anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology. 
  • The clinical part is conducted on a one-to-one basis. An experienced nurse or medical practitioner may ask you to show a skill that was included in your CNA program. Like hand washing, recording a pulse, and anything from the list of 20 practices. 

For the written exam, free CNA practice tests are the best resources available. As you’ll study anatomy, physiology, and other required papers throughout your CNA course, you should start taking practice tests as soon as possible. 

While taking the practice tests, you may find yourself lacking in a few departments. Revise the lessons from your study material to fill the gaps. 

Typically, a CNA certification expires after 2 years when you’re required to renew it. If you’ve continuously been employed during this period, reappearing for the exam isn’t required. 

You can take nursing courses while being a nursing assistant. Many professionals find CNAs a great value for their time-management and basic care skills to further escalate their nursing careers. 

Here are some career paths that you may take as a nursing student. 

Career Paths for Nursing

Let’s look at the nursing careers you may choose after starting with a CNA certification and being admitted to a nursing school. 

Adult Nurse

Adult nurses are primarily responsible for caring for adult patients. From minor injuries to severe long-term diseases, you, as an adult nurse, are required to support the patients with their care procedures, evaluate their needs, and recovery. 

As an adult nurse and the first contact point of the patients, you are also responsible for: 

  • Gain the trust of each patient
  • Developing care plans for O.T preparation, wound treatment, monitoring blood pressure, and recording pulse, temperature, and other critical metrics. 
  • Observe critical patients
  • Administer drugs and injections
  • Set up medical equipment like drips and blood transfusion
  • Discharge patients from hospital
  • Educate the patients and caregivers about their health
  • Maintain records

And many such things.

The yearly salary of adult nurses ranges from $48,500 to $181,040, depending on their seniority and job role. 

Pediatric Nurse

As a pediatric nurse, you should be skilled enough to address and manage the needs of children empathetically. 

You shall be the first point of contact for the families of children wherever a need for communication arises. 

Your responsibilities as a pediatric nurse include: 

  • Managing patient records and administering prescribed drugs
  • Assisting in the child’s medical tests
  • Administering immunizations
  • Educating parents about their child’s health
  • Making parents aware of vaccines and their importance
  • Working as support for recommending cognitive and development milestones to the families 
  • Speak and engage the kids on their level
  • Being aware of the side effects and injuries

Almost 30% of pediatric nurses work in free-standing children’s hospitals. Followed by working in major medical centers. 

If you are getting started with your pediatrics journey, then check out this easy-to-learn online pediatrics course.

Mental Health Nurse

Mental health nurses practice taking care of patients with psychiatric disorders. It’s a specialized stream of nursing that requires advanced knowledge of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders. Including dementia and PTSD. 

The job role of a mental health nurse is huge and full of responsibilities. In addition to the basic care, they are required to provide appropriate care for mental disorders and prevent patients from inflicting harm to themselves or others. 

Some responsibilities of mental health nurses include: 

  • Evaluating the patient’s mental health condition
  • Development of proper care plan
  • Consulting other professionals about the treatment plan
  • Providing caregivers appropriate guidance and education
  • Maintaining medical records
  • Managing patients from inflicting physical harm

The average yearly compensation of a mental health nurse revolves around $125,000. The generosity of the financial terms depicts the extent of the responsibilities a mental health nurse needs to manage.  

Paramedic Career

Paramedics and EMTs are responsible for providing primary care to patients involved in an emergency—including life-threatening situations. Most paramedics are required to work full-time in a stressful environment from their ambulance. 

Typical job responsibilities of a paramedic include: 

  • Driving ambulance and other emergency vehicles
  • Responding to emergency calls
  • Assessing, diagnosing, and providing care to emergency patients
  • Monitoring vitals and administering emergency medications and injections
  • Providing first-aid to patients
  • Using ventilators and defibrillators
  • Transporting patients to the hospital and providing treatment in transit
  • Communicating with healthcare professionals
  • Educating and training younger paramedics

The government employs most paramedics, and the pay averages $36,930. 

The Bottom Line

Get yourself CNA certified by taking practice tests and enrolling yourself in a program. As career paths in nursing, adult nursing, children’s nursing, and mental health nursing are the most popular choices. Followed by paramedics and EMTs.