difference between cna and rn

CNA vs. RN: What’s the Difference?

difference between cna and rn

Within the healthcare field, there is a certain hierarchy of titles and patient care providers. For example, you have doctors, you have nurses, and you have nursing assistants. Each position varies in their level of responsibility, as well as their training requirements. If you are just launching your nursing career and deciding whether the CNA or RN path is right for you, read on. In Part I of our “Types of Nurses” infographic series, we break down the differences between a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and a Registered Nurse (RN).

What is What?

What is an RN? A Registered Nurse, commonly referred to as an RN, is a licensed nurse whose main focus is patient care. RNs work alongside a team of doctors and physicians, performing patient assessments, treating illness and injury, and following up on patient care plans. A Registered Nurse is the face you see most often – and have likely encountered most – during doctor and hospital visits.

What is a CNA? A Certified Nursing Aide, also called a CNA, is responsible for assisting nurses and making patients feel comfortable and at-ease throughout their stay. They have a limited scope of patient care, which often involves taking patient vital signs, cleaning rooms, as well as feeding, bathing, and dressing patients in need. CNAs work under the supervision of Registered Nurses.

Where Do They Work?

Registered Nurses can work in a diversity of healthcare facilities, including schools, hospitals, private clinics, rehab facilities, and even military settings. Hospitals are the most common work environment for RNs today, followed by ambulatory care. However, RNs are generally not limited in where they can work – because an RN license is the standard for nursing practice, Registered Nurses can launch a successful career in just about any setting involving patient care.

Certified Nursing Assistants or Aides typically work in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, helping patients in long-term care settings feel comfortable while there. With a certificate as a CNA, however, you can also find work in some hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.

RN vs. CNA Educational Requirements

To become a Registered Nurse today, you must earn a nursing degree – either at the associate or bachelor’s degree level – from a state-approved nursing school. After graduation, you will be required to pass the NCLEX-RN exam, which is administered by the national board. An associate degree program can be completed in as few as two years, and will make you eligible to become licensed, and practice, as a Registered Nurse in your state.

Because nursing assisting is an entry-level position, becoming a CNA is less of a time investment. Certified Nursing Assistants must complete a state-approved CNA program (usually lasting one year or less), which will result in a diploma or certificate. Upon completion of this program, aspiring Nurse Assistants must complete the state nurse aide exam, to earn the title of a CNA.

Goodwin College is an accredited nursing school in Connecticut, offering associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs in Nursing. For more information about the nursing career paths available to you, contact 800-889-3282 today.