Job opportunities in the healthcare field are growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, jobs in healthcare are anticipated to increase by 18 percent between 2016 and 2026. With these projections, healthcare is a viable career choice for the future. And some healthcare occupations anticipate a higher-than-average growth, such as medical assistants, certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and registered nurses (RNs).
If you're considering a career in healthcare, you may think the best way to begin is by getting your RN degree. But even if becoming an RN is your goal, obtaining your CNA certification or working as a medical assistant might help you decide if healthcare is the best career choice for you. The experience also looks great on your resume (which you can build with one of our Resume Templates) when you're ready to apply for your first nursing job.
Bloom where you're planted
Earning your RN degree can take between two to four years, depending upon whether you acquire an associate's degree (ADN) or a bachelor's degree (BSN) in nursing. Starting your healthcare career as a CNA or medical assistant can allow you to advance into other healthcare occupations while optimizing your time and money. You can earn a living while going to school and making connections with employers.
The demand for healthcare workers has put a strain on employers; they are feeling the pressure to optimize their recruitment and retention efforts. Once you earn a job, proving yourself to be a high-quality employee can do wonders for your career. The employer may assist you in your professional development by providing:
- Flexibility with your schedule
- Monetary incentives
- Tuition reimbursement
Qualifying for these benefits may require you to work for the employer for a specified length of time after you graduate. But that can seem like a fair trade to be able to maintain an income while you're in school.
Transitioning from medical assistant to RN
Changes in methods of healthcare provision, an aging population, and increased access to healthcare due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mean healthcare is a constantly evolving field. Working as a medical assistant can provide you with real-world experience. You'll build basic healthcare skills and learn about working in a medical environment.
A medical assistant's responsibilities vary and can include administrative and clinical tasks. These might include:
- Obtaining patient histories
- Scheduling appointments
- Taking vital signs
- Providing support to other members of the healthcare team
The training and education required for a medical assistant position can vary. Some may not require any formal training, while some states require a program, an exam or a certification. Some courses may count toward your RN degree, but check with the program itself first. Although some CNA courses are similar to RN courses, they may not be equivalent in depth.
CNA to RN programs
A CNA works under the direct supervision of a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or RN and is often the member of the healthcare team who provides the most direct patient care. CNAs are often the first to notice changes in the patient's condition and can act as a liaison between the patient and the nurse. Starting your healthcare career as a CNA may make it less intimidating to continue your education, since you've already built a solid basis in patient care skills.
A bridge program from CNA to RN is sometimes called a ladder program. This career stepping stone usually offers a combination of coursework, support and resources to help you through your career transition. You and your advisor may be able to create a custom-designed program to meet your specific goals.
A CNA to RN bridge program might help you earn your ADN in less time by letting you transfer your CNA coursework credits into the program. You may also be able to test out of some prerequisite courses, letting you complete an ADN program in a year and a half, as opposed to the traditional two years.
Climbing the nursing ladder
Growing your nursing career with a CNA program can allow you to earn money to help pay for schooling, spend less time on familiar coursework, and confirm that healthcare is the best career choice for you. While you work as a CNA or medical assistant, you'll also have the opportunity to make connections with other healthcare professionals and employers. You'll gain inside knowledge about anticipated job openings, letters of recommendation, references for school, and or other opportunities for career advancement.
The experience you gain as a CNA or medical assistant can prove invaluable before you commit the time and money to obtain your RN degree. You'll acquire a deeper appreciation and understanding of the responsibilities of the other members of your healthcare team.
No matter where you start your healthcare career, make sure your first impression is the best one by using our Cover Letter Builder and Resume Builder. With a compelling cover letter and a detailed, engaging resume, you'll be ready to begin climbing that career ladder, wherever it takes you.