Help me get a job as a CNA in a hospital! Advice needed, questions...
January 17, 2014 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Certified Nursing Assistant/Pre-PA filter: I'm working on pre-reqs at my local university towards Physician Assistant school. In order to get approx. 2,000 hours of direct patient care on my application I am going to be a CNA. I finish the certification at the end of January. How do I look competitive on my application/resume to work in a hospital since I don't have any prior healthcare experience besides my 4 days of CNA clinicals?

According to the advice I have received previously- CNA experience in a hospital in an acute care setting looks really good on an PA application and it will give me some good background training before I go to PA school. That is why I chose not to do phlebotomy or medical assisting.

I have been doing really well in my CNA course. I feel I could add a lot of value in terms of my personality, how physically strong I am, and the compassionate care I can offer. How do I make this translate?

The problem is that most hospital CNA job listings say "1 year experience preferred". I do not have healthcare job experience- worked for the federal government for 5 years before making this change. I also have a BA. I'm in Utah.

I spent some time on an ortho floor in 2004 when I broke my femur and ulna/radius. The CNA saved my life!! She got me out of bed, helped me shower, toilet and other things when I had no desire to even move and had no energy to think about things like that. She motivated me to start relearning how to take care of myself. It really makes me want to return back to that setting to help other people who are going through similar things. An ortho floor, labor and delivery, cardiac, whatever.

What can I do to make myself look competitive when I start applying to hospital jobs in a couple of weeks (end of January)? I haven't started shadowing any PA's yet (still setting that up) so I don't have any connections there. My CNA course instructor says that half of her students from her previous class with no prior healthcare experience were placed in hospitals. I think she likes me and would offer a good reference for me if I asked. There is 1.5 weeks left of class. How should I proceed? Any other advice?

Thank you.
posted by timpanogos to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Apply for the jobs anyway.

CNAs are always in demand, even if nursing positions are locked up. Yes Acute Care is good, but perhaps get your foot in the door wherever you can be used, and then move into the position that makes the most sense for you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:00 AM on January 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

1 year of experience preferred should not keep you from applying. Experience is always preferred, but in this case is not required.

You're over thinking this, which means you're probably a great candidate for these jobs. CNA jobs may take a lot of skill to do well, but they don't require a lot of book learning or technical knowledge - you just have to care, and it seems you've got that requirement well covered.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:20 AM on January 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

While I don't know anything about your specific labor market, I think you'll probably be able to get an Acute Care job just by applying. It sounds like you have a lot more educational background and work experience in general than a lot of CNAs applying for these jobs. Just apply.

I wouldn't hesitate to talk to your CNA instructor or any friends that work in hospitals to get an extra leg up, but even without it, you'll probably get an Acute Care job.
posted by mjcon at 9:18 AM on January 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

"How physically strong I am"

This alone will basically get you a job. Much of a CNA's day involves lifting people or keeping them from falling down. Also in that vein: don't be a hero! I know more than one nurse/CNA/paramedic who have done serious damage to themselves by doing a lift that they should have insisted on getting help with.
posted by rockindata at 1:07 PM on January 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

My wife is a licensed nurse and worked as a CNA while in nursing school. It was easy - very easy - for her to get a CNA job at a nursing home because they are always looking for competent people. After a year at the nursing home, she got hired in the heart surgery ward of a major hospital. Now she works in a specialty hospital and does wound care.

So my advice is this: if you have to, find a job that nobody else wants and get the experience under your belt. But apply for acute care jobs too, because there is a lot of overturn for those jobs because they are hard work.
posted by tacodave at 2:54 PM on January 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

If I were you, I'd print off the paragraph you wrote about your own experience in the hospital a bunch of times on the same paper, then cut each little story out individually and take them with you when you fill out applications at the hospitals - and take a small stapler with you also. Then fill out the application and quickly staple your little paper to it and turn it in.

I used to hire people and that would catch my attention and impress me with the sincerety of your plan to become an excellent CNA - and there's seldom room on an application form for even a short story.

It's possible that there will be room for a written explanation of why you want the job on an application here and there and you can just write it out instead. But I'd want to see that little story and it would give you some extra points for sure if I were doing the hiring.

Good luck to you and I hope you have a very happy career in the medical field.
posted by aryma at 3:45 PM on January 17, 2014

Apply for the jobs you want. Saying experience is "preferred" is HR-speak for "this would be nice to have, but we could also without it." Also, 1 year is essentially entry-level. Just about every hospital now uses an online application system, so aryma's suggestion, while charming, probably won't work.

If their online application system allows a cover letter (not all of them do), that's the place to write a blurb about your desire and motivations for getting this kind of job.

Definitely ask your teacher for a reference.

I agree with treehorn+bunny (who I believe is a physician, so she knows) that you are over-thinking this.

Also, don't be afraid to work at a nursing home, LTAC, rehab center, etc. for a year or so. It is still good experience, and can make you even more appealing to a hospital.
posted by jeoc at 6:47 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

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