Many nursing students find value in working as a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) during nursing school to add to their basic care and time-management skills. Most employers will allow nursing students to bypass the requirement of being certified, but check the job announcements for these allowances. Many states will allow those with nursing education and background to sit for the examination without taking an official CNA course. Check with your local state certifying board for details.

RELATED: Working as a Registered Nurse

As a BSN Student, Do I Qualify to Work as a CNA?

Enrollment in an accredited BSN program and completion of foundational nursing skills coursework may qualify the student for certification as a CNA. Depending on state specific Board of Nursing regulations, BSN students may apply for CNA certification and listing on the state Nurse Aide Registry. 

Some states require that students sit for a CNA registry exam regardless of enrollment in an accredited nursing program, while other states accept completion of nursing courses as verification of skills testing. Example state application forms may be found here, here, and here, but it is essential to follow the application process for each specific state.

CNA application requirements vary by state, but may include:

  • Driver's License/Identification
  • Fingerprinting
  • Formal background check
  • Certificate of equivalent CNA training or letter from school
  • Official transcript sent from school
  • Completion of state CNA registry exam

Other Entry-Level Employment Pathways

Aside from CNA positions, there are other entry-level career paths and opportunities for nursing students to gain experience. Volunteering or "candy striping" is a great place to start, and most nursing programs help students arrange nursing internships/externships for the formal experience. Nursing students will undoubtedly find that having a plethora of experience around hospitals and healthcare facilities in any capacity will put them ahead of the pack when they look for full-time positions upon graduating.

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN
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