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Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by watsupdoc, Feb 15, 2007.
Is being a Certified Nurse Assistant looked down upon by medical school admissions?
No, not that I know of. If anything, it's a plus. It's a great certification in which you can gather clinical experience and actually interact with patients in a therapeutic capacity.
I don't see how it would be. While you are getting patient contact, the amount that is learned as a CNA is greatly varied from person to person. Some people become butt-wipers and that's all they learn. Others wipe butts and glean information from patients, nurses, and docs, thus becoming a smarter CNA. Some CNAs move into specialy work like Dialysis, wound care, ER, etc, and develop special skills in that field.
In a nutshell, in my humble opinion, it's more about what you learn than the job title. That's what you'll have to convey to the adcoms.
If you're looking to try that line of work I'd highly recommend it. "Getting your hands dirty" might be an eye opener.
CHT, EMT-B, CNA, and some other junk.
Acrunchyfrog, I know it varies from state to state, but I noticed EMT-B on your list there. I am thinking about doing that. What are the basic requirements as far as hours per week, class time to become an EMT-B? Would it be too much since I am taking classes as well, or would it not be that bad?
Not in the least, volunteering does not have to be healthcare related now.
Well, I'm not Acrunchyfrog, obviously, but I am a certified EMT-B. The training itself isn't that bad, or particularly difficult. It can be somewhat time consuming, however. When I took my certification class, it was a total of 131 classroom hours, or approximately 9 hours per week. It was a total of 8 semester credits at a community college, for a total length of 1 semester, if you decide to take it through a community college. Then, you need to do a clinical internship where you rotate through an ER/Trauma Center and ride calls for a certain number of approved hours under the supervision of a field preceptor. The test consists of multiple choice questions and a state-approved practical exam. You learn a lot about pt care in the process, in my opinion, especially during the internship. If you go the community college route first, you need to affiliate with a fire station, or other EMS provider, to keep riding.
Another approach would be to become an EMS volunteer at a rescue squad/fire dept. Then training is free, provided by the state, but you might incur obligations to the FD, and training is on their time, not yours. The advantage is that, in many places, you will get to ride even before you become certified. After you obtain your certification, you can keep riding 911 calls, which is an awesome way to get patient-contact experience. Usually, the minimum requirement for a volunteer is to ride one 12-hour shift a week.
EMS is state operated, so check with your state authority.
I was a CNA for several years before med school, and it was a valuable experience. I had lots of interaction with patients, developed a deep respect for all the members of the health care team, and learned how imp't ancillary services like PT/OT are to patient care. During interviews I talked about how the ideals we aspire to in medicine can be challenged by the healthcare environment we function in (I was in LTC). This led to many interesting conversations, and I ended up with multiple acceptances.
So, to answer your question, as long as your present it correctly, no, I don't think it would be looked down upon in the slightest.
Spicedmanna got it all down pat, tho I would add that the EMT training does add a unique body of knowledge that cna and even nursing schools(in my area) don't cover, like using KEDs, Traction splints, standing takedowns w/ spineboards, and other sundryed bits and pieces of knowledge that come in handy while working in an ED. Stuff that's great for the ED or minor care, but not so applicable for med-sug nursing for the most part.
The ED I work in (used to be full time, now part time) hired me because I was an EMT, and I got the CNA part of things on the job. Happens that way a lot around here.
If I had to choose either EMT(on an ambulance) or CNA, I'd go EMT any day.
Well yes...you'll be looked down upon by just about everyone. You'll no sooner be smack in the middle of scrubbing the crust out of some old person's booty crack when a 20 year old medical student will wander in and they'll stop complaining immediately about this and that and break into a superfluous stream of gratitude for the folks in white coats--Who will smugly interupt you even though you've never seen them before while they listen for thumps and wheezes all the while looking very contemplative leaving you holding a poopy diaper with **** on your hands whistling the star bangled banner until they make a ceremonious exit.
So remember that when you getting ready to wax your resume with your CNA experience to some academic physician in an interview who could probably care less.
Not trying to sound dreary. It's just funny looking at these things after years of grunt work in the wards.
how is caring for the elderly looked down upon?
Hopefully, it's not. I think the OP's question pertained more to the possibility of being perceived by some adcoms as "just a lowly CNA" (the bottom of the healthcare-delivery food chain) trying to buck the system and "move up" in the hierarchy, and/or having to fight the perception (however mistaken) that people become CNAs because they lack the skill/intelligence/ambition to do anything else.
I'm considering a CNA job myself, so I certainly don't endorse the above sentiments, but I think the question (unfortunately) has some merit.
To the OP: I suspect the answer may depend, in the end, on how the CNA job fits with the rest of your profile. If it's clearly just one component of a broad package of experiences, and/or a job taken in the short term (a couple of years or less) to help pay bills while doing a postbacc, I think it wouldn't be a problem at all. On the other hand, if someone has been exclusively a CNA for years and years, that might raise some more questions.
Hmmm... anything below an MD is "lowly", no? So here is the solution - as soon as one becomes legally eligible to handle controlled substances (say 18, for cigarettes), or better yet, as soon as one is potty-trained, they should immediately go to medical school. In fact, they should skip medical school... come on, who wants to be a "lowly" medical student and a "scut rat"? Go straight to MD, do not pass GO, do not collect ANYthing on the way...
OK, sorry, I could not help it... but seriously, people need exposure to patients... to actual living, breathing, dying, crying, pooping, stinking, (or how about pooping and stinking - read GI bleed), angry, grateful, scared, annoying, neurotic, non-compliant, infuriating, insulting, biting, smiling patients! Only after this exposure can one assert with any degree of certainty that medicine is what they are meant to do for the rest of their lives. (This could virtually eliminate physicians who overtly or covertly express that they cannot stand a sizeable fraction of their patient population.) Given the fact that most premeds do not have too many places where they can get this kind of exposure, working as a CNA is one of the best options by far. I have spoken with several adcoms in the past two years who have all stated that this sort of exposure is an excellent idea. We can certainly ask the adcom members on pre-allo for their input too.
I think so as well. But I suppose it might help you if you are a CNA with experience in an environment besides the assisted living facilities where the bulk of NA's end up working. In a couple of the hospitals I've worked, the CNA had a higher patient load than the nurses, had to carry out the bulk of the dirty work, needed to be able to assess status changes and effectively communicate with the nurses and the occasional doctor that'd speak to them. Especially in high turn-over areas like EDs or cardiac units.
This is great exposure to patient care, I don't see how that could be dismissed just because it isn't glamorous.
To the OP: I suspect the answer may depend, in the end, on how the CNA job fits with the rest of your profile. If it's clearly just one component of a broad package of experiences, and/or a job taken in the short term (a couple of years or less) to help pay bills while doing a postbacc, I think it wouldn't be a problem at all. On the other hand, if someone has been exclusively a CNA for years and years, that might raise some more questions.[/QUOTE]
I agree with this. Its just a component. I suspect some adcom members will thinks its great hands on experience and others will think it entirely boring perferring someone with published research, while still others would be more impressed if you studied abroad as an undergrad.
The point that i tried previously and poorly to make was that the cultural status bias/assumption built into your question was more correct than you realize.
Even the asking of it serves to illustrate the bias within the medical professional communities. If your not using it to pay your bills and your not really that interested in learning what its like to care for people in the menial sense, then don't waste your time because you could certainly do something more glamorous.
To the other poster who asked about why would anyone look down on taking care of older people?........that's an intrinsic value question, the op was asking about political context.
The point is many professionals view themselves as really taking care of the patients needs while the many who do their bidding are just the mindless extensions of themselves because their time is spent more importantly elsewhere. (Not that I disagree with the physical reality of that) Furthermore the point which has no point is that is not very useful to compress years of paying dues in the underworld of hospital politics in the form of poignant little inspirational vignettes about the greater virtues of diligent patient care to individuals who will be sailing into the top of it. Medical schools are the equivalent of military academies in the military. What they won't tell you in the recruiter's office is that the spots in the F-16's and the the high-ranking officer tracks are already spoken for by academy graduates and the son and daughters of the military elite. So rather than tell this new recruit some line of bull I'd prefer to tell them to take a quick tour if they'd like to and get on with medical school while everything is still new and exciting in the realm of hands on patient care.
OK, sorry, I could not help it... but seriously, people need exposure to patients... to actual living, breathing, dying, crying, pooping, stinking, (or how about pooping and stinking - read GI bleed), angry, grateful, scared, annoying, neurotic, non-compliant, infuriating, insulting, biting, smiling patients! Only after this exposure can one assert with any degree of certainty that medicine is what they are meant to do for the rest of their lives. (This could virtually eliminate physicians who overtly or covertly express that they cannot stand a sizeable fraction of their patient population.) Given the fact that most premeds do not have too many places where they can get this kind of exposure, working as a CNA is one of the best options by far. I have spoken with several adcoms in the past two years who have all stated that this sort of exposure is an excellent idea. We can certainly ask the adcom members on pre-allo for their input too.[/QUOTE]
Yes. This is the perfectly reasonable other side of the coin. One caveat: you could accomplish this litmus test of exposure in less than 6 months in my opinion. After that if your deciding how to divide your time and you could be doing other things like research, volunteering, leadership, traveling or whatever i would be moving on to something else.
While I agree with you on many points just to point out that as an RN I'm responsible for all the CNA's that take care of my patients, legally, I have a license CNA's do not and the level of training is much higher for an RN then a CNA. I managed a Home Hospice before medschool where I was the "Top Nurse" For over 250 patients other RN's and CNA's alike the only person above me was the MD the Hospice medical director.
CNA's can function at a decent level I recommend it if you are inclined to do it for patient experience.
I think we are completely in agreement. I was not advocating for making CNA a career. Perhaps, I misread the OPs original question - was he/she asking about a career CNA? I thought he/she was thinking about it as an EC (only 1 among 14 others one can list on the AMCAS app). In my experience, it seems the lower you go on the health care job ladder the shorter the shelf-life/half-life of a given job.
Absolutely, you are 100% correct, an RN is always in charge, and with good reason. When I made the comment about the patient load, I meant that during a regular shift a nurse would have 5-6 patients at any given time, while the aides had to cover 10-12 patients, reporting to different nurses, performing ADLs, vitals, running messages, answering phones...etc. and if say a nurse is tied down with a particularly sick patient, the Aide has to be able to identify a problem that requires prompt response from the RN.
I didn't in any way mean that a CNA license is just as good as an RN license. The nurse is in charge of far more specialized care for each of the patients she's assigned to, and the general purpose of an aide is to relieve the RN from non-specialized care that eats up most of the time during a shift.
But for the purpose of getting your hands dirty (and you will) without investing a couple of years in school for an Associate's degree in nursing, or four for a BSN before being qualified to deal directly with patients, CNA is a reasonable option while working off some pre-reqs.
Yeah I know it came off a little like the Nurses may not be as responsible when I read it so I wanted to post an RN side of it, sorry if I seemed to be upset I'm not I have the upmost respect for all Care givers, it's a tough job!