My State Tested Nursing Assistant Experience

By MidlevelU Intern Ashley Prince

Ladies and Gentlemen, I can now officially add an acronym to the end of my name! Meet Ashley Prince, STNA. I feel so grown up.

What is an STNA? An STNA is a State Tested Nursing Assistant. In some states, STNA's are officially called CNAs or PCAs and are collectively known as nurse's aides. The job description is pretty basic- STNAs help admitted patients in the hospital or, more commonly, nursing home residents with activities of daily living like grooming, bathing, feeding etc. For five hours a night, every night, for two weeks I learned how to clean urinary drainage bags, make an occupied bed, and clean dentures. Nothing challenging, but definitely important work.

The work is so important, in fact, that everywhere I've applied for a job will only hire STNAs with work experience, not recent grads looking to get their foot into the nursing door. With summer break well underway, I was faced with a hard choice: either keep searching and pray a nursing home hires me soon, or accept an offer to continue my job as a Client Coordinator at a salon. I'm an "expect the worst" sort of person, so I decided to keep my job at the salon. Ashley Price, CC doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but it will do for now.

I'm still hammering out the details on how this summer is going to work out, but I'm hoping to substitute my lack of a nursing job with lots of supplementary volunteering and job shadowing. There's one contact I haven't heard back from that offers home health PRN work that I'm hoping I can add to my schedule. With all this and three classes, it definitely won't be much of a break from the regular semester life, and I'm hoping it will all be enough come nursing school application time.

Was the STNA class a waste if the whole goal of taking the course was to get a job for experience? Definitely not. I learned a lot even if I'm not planning on having a job where changing bedpans is a daily duty, I should still know how to do it. I also learned that no amount of studying the Alzheimer's brain could prepare me to see the disease up close and personal, and that I might actually be better working with kids than the elderly. I met some great people, and scored recommendations from my instructors, which will certainly help in my nursing school application process. I also learned that some nursing programs require applicants to take a STNA class prior to entry, so it's definitely something worth looking into if you haven't already. 

In between shifts at the salon, I will be working on my nursing school application personal statement. What are you doing this summer to make sure you get in to your nursing program of choice? Let me know by commenting!


Have you missed any of Ashley's latest posts? Check out her advice on planning your pre-nursing school route