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Speed through Prerequisites or Log Patient Care Hours?

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Hi Everyone,


I have been trying to get a hospital CNA job for 6 months and finally had one offered to me. The only problem is that it's only 24 hours a week (two 12-hour shifts) and I was planning on starting on my prerequisites (full-time) this Fall. I am trying to decide if I should take the job and lighten my course load, or just push on with the prerequisites, which I would finish in 3 semesters (1 calendar year).


What is more important? Regardless, I am quitting my job in Health IT in a few weeks.


Here are my stats:


- 100 hours patient care (CNA at a home health aid agency)

- MS in Healthcare Management (3.97 GPA)

- BA in Economics (3.54 GPA)

- About to enroll in core sciences at a local community college

- Served 27 months in the Peace Corps as an HIV/AIDS Community Health Volunteer

- 1 year health IT experience (supporting electronic medical records)

- 2 years pharmaceutical policy experience


The schools I'm looking at either accept Peace Corps experience as direct patient care (Duke) or do not have a minimum requirement for patient care (Wichita State). Still I worry that I will not be admitted without more hands-on experience. So, if I want to apply for the next admission cycle (2013), I would have to take a full course load starting in August. The only prerequisite I have is Statistics. Would working nights (24 hrs a week) as a CNA be impossible while going to school?


My plan is

Fall 2012: Biology I, Chemistry I, Microbiology, Psychology (Human Development), Medical Terminology

Spring 2013: Chemistry II, Anatomy, Physiology, Genetics

Summer 2013: Pathophysiology, Biochemistry


Advice on what path to pursue would be much appreciated!

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For most poeple I would say to hold off on prereqs and get more experiences as a CNA, but you have a pretty diverse background already wtih the Peace corp, MS in HC management and pharm policy experience.... honestly if i were admissions i would give your application a second look just because it doesnt look like EVERYONE elses. if Duke accepts your peace corps as HC experience then I think you are all set... go forth with the prereqs. If you ace them I think you have a really good chance at getting in. But if you really want more hours you could look into applying at nursing homes for CNA jobs...They are usually always hiring. Im sure you could find a place that needs someone on the weekends. But working in a nursing home probably wont benefit you much other than just having direct patient care hours to put on your application.


Your fall load is pretty heavy. When i was in school as a bio major I wouldnt take more than 2 hard sciences at a time, along with a soft science and a general class (hard science would be like bio, chem, physics, organic chem, genetics, etc and soft science would be along the lines of psych, nutrition, sociology etc.) You also have to keep in mind that bio, chem and micro all come with labs. But if you are really motivated, go for it. It wont be nearly as tough as PA school :)

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Something to look at would be the average HCE of accepted students at Wichita - just because there's not a minimum doesn't mean the average HCE isn't something like 2000 hours! But besides that warning, I agree with the above. Another idea would be to go for the CNA job and space the prereqs out a bit. Start by figuring out your schools' policies on taking classes after or during the application process. At least at the schools I'm interested in, certain classes like pathophysiology and medical terminology aren't required but would certainly be helpful to take before PA school. These classes might be ones you could try to take in Fall 2013, when I assume you're trying to apply, again based on the requirements of the schools you're interested in applying to. It would definitely be possible to work full time and take a full course load of classes depending on your work ethic. Given the MS and your GPA in it, I figure you can get the job done. I work full time as a CNA in a hospital on the weekends so I can take prereqs during the week and it can be exhausting but totally possible. I'm just short of being a full time student, but I've heard tons of stories of people on here who work full time, take prereqs full time, and still make time to sit in the stands at their kid's soccer game (I'm in awe of those people by the way - kicking *** and taking names!), so it's totally possible. But do keep in mind that the grades you make in these classes will be important as most PA schools just look at your undergrad GPA and won't look so much at your stellar MS GPA - so make sure to set yourself up for success! Good luck!

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I am confused on the problem. 24 hrs a week is not that much. Community college classes are ridiculously easy because you are mixed in with high school graduates *cough*idiots*cough* who *think* they want to go to nursing school but never take any classes seriously and fail. I took science classes at university and community college and trust me, there is a real difference. You don't have to try that hard to ace most of those classes. Genetics, patho, and biochem will require more effort, but those can be spread out between semesters. Can I ask why you are taking Anatomy and Physiology as two separate classes? (Or is that just a typo?)


Also I wanted to add that, depending on the unit you would be working at, you likely will have a lot of downtime when you can catch up on studying, especially during night shift (chose all-night shift if you can handle it/have the option to!).

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I worked 24 hrs/week as an er tech(26 actually) while taking 20 units. it's doable. you won't have time for much of anything else, but it's doable. I did miss out on a lot of the nl college stuff(parties, roadtrips, etc) but it worked out well for me in the long run.

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Thank you all for the feedback!


Purplez - I'm taking Anatomy and Physiology as two separate classes because the combined A&P is offered only at the 100-level. Whereas, if I take Human Anatomy (BIOL 144) and Physiology (BIOL 232), it would be more comprehensive and probably look a little stronger on my transcript. Plus, Duke requires a minimum of 6 credits of A&P (1 course + lab is only 4 credits).


I had an interview for a part-time CNA position in an orthopedics unit this week (one 12-hr shift on the weekend), and will hear back about that next week. I was thinking that would be very manageable with the five courses. I also have an interview for a full-time CNA position (three 12-hour shifts) in neuroscience (days) and an interview for a full-time position in the cardiac ICU (nights). I'm thinking that if I don't get offered the PT orthopedic position, I will space out my prerequisites and take the full-time job in neuroscience.


Thoughts? I feel like it makes most sense to get as much done as I possibly can before the next application cycle (May 2013), so that if I decide I want to take my chances and apply, I can. With only patient care under my belt, I can't apply anywhere next year.


Also, is it worth paying double to take the prereqs at a 4-year university? I can't afford University tuition out of pocket, unless I space the classes out over a couple years. I thought that that a 4.0 GPA for prereqs, even if from a community college, would look strong.

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I work in ER and go on the floors when we transfer patients there. ER KILLS your brain and your feet after 12 hrs, day or night. You do not want to do anything but sleep after those. On the floors, from what I've seen, they watch youtube videos, nap, and chit-chat on night shifts. Of course there are always exceptions, but most of the time you don't do actual work for full 12 hrs. It all depends on the hospital, and I can only comment on my experience. Our hospital is the busiest in the suburbs and only the ER is a killer. Things might be different in a city hospital. I would recommend the neuroscience night shift where you can study. Your experience level won't suffer because (1) admissions don't know how much patient care you actually did, and (2) you will have plenty of work to do the first half of each shift.



I can't speak well for cardiac ICU because we don't go there often. In every other ICU I've been to, most patients are sedated and intubated which can be either good or bad. It can be good because you don't have to deal with some odd-balls who are very needy and ask you for things every 5 minutes. For example, you as a CNA won't be able to give drugs. If pt is asking you for them and you keep saying the nurse is busy with other patients, they will just get pissed at you. It can be bad because you don't develop good bedside manner with unconscious pts.


To give you an example of some odd-ball, pain in the butt patients: we had a pt who we brought to IMC who refused to move from ER stretcher to a hospital bed. She wanted to fight us! It took us an hr to convince her (armed with ativan) to move her.


I guess your choice depends on your strengths and weaknesses. The part-time one day a week position sounds ideal. You can ALWAYS pick up extra shifts when you aren't studying as much (between exams and on holidays).


No, take pre-reqs at a community college. There is like 1 school I found who said they want A&P taken from a university. All power to them. Just don't apply to places like that. You will be just fine with comm college classes.

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Just wanted to offer my experience which is different than Purplez, when I get off of a 12 hour shift at my ER I'm usually feeling good and motivated to do more that day. Maybe 1 of every 7-9 shifts I am drained at the end of it. (I'm probably jinxing myself and we'll be slammed for the next month...). If you get a situation like mine it would be doable with class, especially if you kept up on studying so that if you are drained the night before an exam you'll already be ready for it and can go right to sleep.


Also congrats on so many interviews as a CNA! When I first started the only places that wanted to hire me were home health and nursing homes....

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mackjacks -- It has taken me 6 months to land a hospital CNA interview... still waiting to hear back if they want me or not. One of the interviews (Neuroscience, FT, dayshift) I got through a friend of a friend (an HR Director for a hospital here in Kansas City), but there are no guarantees I'll get hired. As for the PT position in Orthopedics, I think I just got lucky! Hopefully they'll ask me back. During the interview, the Orthopedics Director definitely sounded like she would prefer someone with hospital experience.. so I'm nervous! I tried to play up my willingness (and eagerness) to learn.


If I take the Full-Time night position (Cardiac ICU), I would be getting out of work at 7am and having to be in class at 9am... until 2:30pm. It would be rough for sure, but it wouldn't be every day. My interview for the Cardiac ICU position isn't for a little while (interviewing Unit Director is on vacation)... so we'll see, I guess!

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