Should You Stay as a CNA or Become a Nurse?

Have you ever thought about becoming a nurse? Do you love being a CNA but have always dreamed of being a nurse? This article is to help you determine whether or not it would be worth it for you to become a nurse. There are pros and cons to both, so decide which one is best for your situation after reading this article.

Pros of Staying as a CNA

1. You can work in a variety of settings

CNAs are qualified to work in many different places, including hospitals, nursing homes, and other assisted living facilities. If you’re not sure which facility you want to end up working at long term or if you’d like the flexibility of being able to switch between various types of facilities or even move from patient care into another role such as an instructor or manager, then staying as a CNA will be great for you because it gives you lots of opportunities across the board.

2. The salary is typically decent

If you stay in this field for your entire career and put in enough hours, the earning potential is much higher than minimum wage but doesn’t require years of schooling or lots of debt.

3. You can specialize in a certain area of care that interests you

CNAs do not need to be generalists. If you’d like to become an expert in caring for geriatric patients, for instance, choose your facility accordingly and learn everything you can about the needs of the people who will receive care there so that you are even more qualified than someone with an RN degree.

4. You’ll stay on top of your game due to the hands-on nature of the job

Both new nurses and CNA students benefit from working together because CNAs help keep them up to date on what they should know before entering clinical or taking their NCLEX examination while also getting first-hand experience and learning something new every day.

5. You’ll gain a lot of life experience working in this field

This is true across all fields, but being a CNA gives you the opportunity to work with many different people from various walks of life, which can be very rewarding for some people. You will encounter difficult cases at times, so having the ability to deal with these scenarios while maintaining your composure and helping your patients can qualify you for further education or more advanced roles within healthcare if desired.

6. It’s not hard to find jobs in this field due to high turnover rates

Specific areas that are experiencing shortages may have higher turnover rates than other areas but it’s easy enough to find employment that CNAs are typically able to stay busy throughout their entire career.

Cons of Staying as a CNA

1. You aren’t building skills that are directly applicable to nursing

While gaining experiences is great, if you’re not learning new things every day then your development may stagnate after some time. CNAs cannot provide treatments without an RN being present, so opportunities for further advancement can be limited unless there’s room for promotion within the department or facility you work at.

2. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of responsibility you have working in this role

If your facility is understaffed and you are overloaded with patients who require complex care or lots of teaching/supervision, then it can feel like you’re running around trying to put out fires all day and you don’t have time for breaks or a second of peace before getting right back to work.

3. You will never be able to make independent medical decisions on behalf of your patients

While CNAs do teach some patients how to care for themselves, it’s always best to leave that sort of decision up to the patient’s doctor as they are most aware of their own health and needs. It can be difficult as a CNA not to be able to provide some treatments as needed, but also to know when it is appropriate or necessary versus being too one-sided in your approach.

4. You can become bored with the repetition if you stay in this role for an extended period of time

You can become board – you might find that you have been doing the same procedures over and over again for years without advancement or change.

Though it’s nice to be good at something and know you’re making a difference in people’s lives, it can get boring if the same procedures and care plans need to be performed on every patient or by everyone equally. Some CNAs may try to advance into other roles while others may start taking classes towards an RN degree, such as through LPN-to-BSN programs.

5. Difficult to find good facilities to work on

It isn’t always easy to find facilities that provide great working conditions for CNAs, especially compared to nurses who have many more options across the board because of the increased demand for their services.

Certain areas may not offer competitive salaries and benefits, and morale could be below which makes the work environment difficult overall. This is particularly a concern for experienced CNAs, as they have a limited number of options going forward if being a CNA is no longer desirable or sustainable.

6. You will always be at a disadvantage in terms of pay and recognition compared to nurses

CNAs are paid less than nurses due to the nature of their work and what they’re able to provide from a skillset standpoint, which can make it difficult to support yourself or your family independently unless you obtain advanced certifications such as through the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). In order to obtain these advanced credentials though, CNAs need more education/training plus experience working in the field before becoming eligible for certification exams.

Making the decision

Whether you continue to stay in this role or decide to move on, it’s important that you take the time for self-reflection. Evaluate if being a CNA is something you’re really passionate about doing for the long term, and if so then explore different opportunities within your facility.

Talk with your manager and ask them if there are ways you can grow and develop as a CNA – maybe they can hire another nurse and free up some time to let you do more procedures under their supervision and guidance. Make sure CNAs also have opportunities for continuing education such as through seminars or workshops offered by companies like Omnia Education, LLC.

However, if this job isn’t fulfilling enough for your standards then now may be the best time to start exploring other options. Since you’re already a CNA, the amount of training and coursework required to become an RN isn’t as extensive or demanding as it would be if you had absolutely no experience in a healthcare setting. You can use sites like to find great opportunities with many reputable companies across the nation.