CNA Is the Beginning to Other Medical Careers

Category: Career Development

A nurse with her arms folded, smiling for a picture.

In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare industry, pursuing a career as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) can offer numerous opportunities for growth and advancement. If you are considering a career in the medical field but don’t know where to begin your journey, becoming a CNA can be a great starting point. Becoming a CNA provides a solid foundation and will give you a leg up should you choose to advance in the medical field. 

Building a strong foundation

Starting as a CNA in a skilled nursing facility allows individuals to gain invaluable experience and develop a solid foundation in patient care. Skilled nursing facilities provide a unique environment where CNAs work closely with diverse patient populations, including seniors and individuals with complex medical needs. This exposure equips CNAs with comprehensive knowledge and expertise in providing high-quality, compassionate care. 

Essential skills development

Within the structured setting of a skilled nursing facility, CNAs are exposed to various aspects of healthcare, from assisting with activities of daily living to observing medical procedures. This hands-on experience enables CNAs to hone their skills, enhance their understanding of patient needs, and effectively contribute to the care team. These developed skills serve as a valuable asset for career growth within the medical field. 

Networking opportunities

Working as a CNA provides ample opportunities to network and connect with professionals across the healthcare spectrum. CNAs often collaborate closely with registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, therapists, and other healthcare professionals. Building strong professional relationships within this supportive network is vital for career advancement, as it opens doors to potential mentorships, job referrals, and access to further education. 

Demonstration of dedication

Pursuing a career as a CNA demonstrates your dedication to the medical field and your commitment to providing quality patient-centered care. Employers often value individuals with firsthand experience in the healthcare environment and understand the challenges and rewards that come with it. 

With numerous job opportunities, the potential for growth and the ability to develop essential skills, becoming a CNA is a solid foundation for a successful and fulfilling career in healthcare. 

To recap, the following makes the role of a CNA a compelling career path such as the possibility of:

  • Building a strong foundation
  • Acquiring hands-on experience
  • Networking opportunities
  • Pursuing further education

Embrace the journey of becoming a CNA and unlock a world of possibilities for your future in healthcare. 

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How do I advance as a CNA?

To advance as a Certified Nursing Assistant, it is crucial to continuously strive for growth and development within the healthcare field. One important step toward advancement is pursuing further education and training opportunities beyond the basic CNA certification. This can include specialized courses in areas such as geriatric care, pediatric care, mental health, and more.

Additionally, seeking out hands-on experience in different healthcare settings, such as hospitals or rehabilitation centers, can broaden your understanding of various patient populations and healthcare practices. 

Building strong professional relationships with colleagues and mentors can also provide valuable guidance and support throughout your career journey. By continuously seeking new opportunities for learning and professional growth, you can ensure you are consistently advancing as a CNA and positively impacting the lives of those under your care. 

Career paths

As a CNA, there are a large number of career paths you can choose to take in the healthcare field. Regarding typical careers in a skilled nursing facility, you will notice a sort of hierarchy when it comes to titles and credentials. In the nursing department, the hierarchy goes like this:

  1. CNA: An entry-level position, typically where one starts and provides the most hands-on care to the residents. It is a certification and takes an average of 2-16 weeks to complete. 
  2. QMA: The Qualified Medication Aide performs all the same essential job duties as a CNA. However, a QMA has the ability to pass medication and perform some wound care. This is a certification career and typically takes 6-16 weeks to complete. 
  3. LPN: The licensed practical nurse performs many of the same functions as a registered nurse. However, LPNs tend to be more geared toward task-driven work than the registered nurse. LPNs do have the capacity to oversee CNAs, but their main focus is on providing medical care to those under their watch. Becoming an LPN typically takes an average of 1 year of schooling at either a technical or community college. 
  4. Registered nurse: Registered nurses are responsible for overseeing their nursing staff during their shifts. They also conduct patient assessments and create care plans. They perform hands-on care such as wound care, blood draws, urine samples, and recording medical history and symptoms. In order to become an RN, one must earn an associate’s, bachelor’s, or diploma from an accredited nursing program. This can take anywhere from 2-4 years. 

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Alternative careers for CNAs

A nurse holding onto a wheelchair, smiling for a photo.

  • Nursing home administrator
  • Geriatric care manager
  • Medical transcription
  • Phlebotomist
  • EMT
  • Health Coach
  • Medical Assistant
  • ER Technician
  • Human Resources Manager

There are several key strategies you can take to advance as a CNA. With motivation and a positive attitude, you can progress in your career any way you choose. No matter what career path you pursue in healthcare, you can be sure you will find fulfillment and meaning every day.


CareerStaff Unlimited. (2022). How to Further Your CNA Career.

Regis College. (2021). Registered Nurse vs LPN: Understanding the key differences. 

What is a CNA? Job description and career guide. (2020).