Nursing is unlike basically any other career. If you’ve heard much of anything about all the different things a nurse has to do on a regular basis, you’ll understand pretty well that nursing is a calling, a vocation, more than it is a job you just fall into. There are long hours, unpleasant tasks, and a lot of emotions involved, so it’s certainly not a career path to take lightly. Of course, there are a million meaningful moments that more than make up for each of the harder-to-handle ones. So, if you’re asking yourself whether a nursing job is right for you, you should definitely think through everything carefully.
Let’s Talk Numbers
The starting point on the nursing education track is a CNA, a Certified Nurse Assistant. From there, you can earn your LPN (licensed practical nurse), RN (registered nurse), and NP (nurse practitioner) certifications and licenses. A CNA is generally an excellent place to start if you’re unsure whether you really want to be a nurse, and plenty of individuals don’t feel the need to go beyond earning their CNA license in order to have a fulfilling career in the medical field.
To start with, let’s break it down to basic facts and figures. According to CNAprograms.org, the average cost per credit hour for a CNA program is $71.50 for an in-state resident and $263.50 for someone attending a program as an out-of-state student. This is not an across the board number; cost will vary by state and program. The average CNA program is 17 credit hours of program-specific courses and another 10-15 credit hours of general education courses. That means, based on the numbers above, the average CNA program would be around $2288 for an in-state resident and $8432 for an out-of-state student. However, that’s just the cost for the classes themselves. Add in student fees, books, supplies, and other sundry fees, and that will add on an additional $1500 to $2000 (as a rough estimation). So, all told, if you were to attend as an out-of-state student, you’d probably pay around $5000 for the courses necessary to earn your CNA license. Of course, that does not take into account any financial aid or scholarships available; for that information, you’ll need to contact your CNA program directly.
Once you’ve finished your courses, passed every test, and earned your CNA license, it’s time to find a job! According to payscale.com, the median hourly pay for a CNA is $11.68. That’s the median pay for CNAs across the nation, so that number may go up or down depending on the economic rates in your area. In addition to base hourly pay, some companies provide the opportunity for hourly tips, commission, and bonuses, but those numbers will add maybe $2000 to your annual pay over time. The biggest addition to hourly salary is the potential for overtime. Between hourly rates and commission, the average CNA in the United States stands to earn somewhere between $19,367 and $32,756 a year. So, from a straightforward numbers comparison, a CNA license can pay for itself fairly quickly.
Numbers aren’t the only factor in play when it comes to nursing, however. As we mentioned above, nursing isn’t always glamorous and there will be stressful and emotionally fraught moments. You’re unlikely to ever find a job that is completely stress free, but some find that they cannot handle the stress of a hospital or assisted living facility. Largely, this is because of the patients—but not in the way you think! Many CNAs work in assisted living or skilled nursing facilities, which can mean working with a large roster of patients. A long roster can mean very busy shifts and a lot of things to do. What many CNAs find even more impactful, however, is the connections they make with patients and the emotional impact that can come from those connections. These costs are much more difficult to measure, so that will be up to you to weigh into your decision. If you’re unsure whether you can handle nursing or not—maybe you’re squeamish about blood—we suggest starting with a volunteer position at your local hospital. Of course, not all CNA jobs are the same; working for a home care agency like Evergreen Home Healthcare can give you younger patients to work with and a less onerous roster of patients.
If you’re interested in learning more about CNA jobs in Denver, contact Evergreen Home Healthcare or apply online today!