FAQ: Can You Switch Between CNA vs. RN?

The certified nurse assistant position is often seen as a starting point or stepping stone in a medical career. Eventually, many people working as CNAs want to move up and start working in positions with more responsibility, such as registered nurses. What is the difference between a CNA vs RN? Is this switch possible? If so, how is it done? Let’s take a look at these questions below.

What is the Difference Between CNAs vs RN?

CNAs, or certified nursing assistants, are responsible for day-to-day patient needs. They check vital signs, make beds, clean rooms, assist nurses, and serve meals. They must complete state-approved education and pass a competency exam. 

An RN, or a Registered Nurse, has authority that CNAs do not. RNs are the nurses primarily assigned to patients and their care. They help patients understand their health conditions. Nurses assess patient health, give medication and treatment, record patient results, perform diagnostics, and analyze test results. RNs must get a diploma from a nursing program, have an associate degree in nursing, or have a bachelor of science degree in nursing. 

Can CNAs Become Registered Nurses?

Yes! Anyone who completes the required education and passes all exams can become registered nurses. Some hospitals and medical facilities even offer education assistance to help employees with further education. 

How Do You Switch from CNA to RN?

There are a few different educational paths to take when switching from CNA to RN. 

Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree

The BSN takes about four years to complete. It may feel like a lot of extra work on top of your day job. However, most employers require or prefer a BSN when hiring. RNs with their BSN tend to make a higher salary than other nurses. 

Accelerated BSN

This program is for people who have a bachelor’s degree in something other than nursing. This program helps you get a BSN in about a year and comes with a minimum GPA requirement. 

RN-to-BSN Online Program

If you are working and can’t attend in-person classes, online courses are a great way to go. Many of the accelerated programs can get you a BSN in a year. 

CNA-to-RN Bridge Programs

These programs help you get an associate degree in nursing in a year while still working as a CNA. 

All nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN, the licensing exam for registered nurses. After completing your education and passing the exam, you are licensed to get a job and practice. 

Find a Certified Nursing Assistant Job with CynaMed

If you are a Certified Nursing Assistant looking for a healthcare job, Cynamed is hiring! RNs, CNAs, LPNs, and Certified Med Techs are all welcome to apply on our website! Contact us to learn more and check out resources


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