Difference between CNA and RN


RN stands for Registered Nurse. Before entering in the field of nursing, it is essential for the students to understand the difference between CNA and RN. This will help them in planning for their career. This article differentiates between CNA and RN and will help you clarify your doubts.

CNA Vs RN: A Quick Comparison Table

Parameter CNA RN
Education For becoming a certified nursing assistant, a diploma in high school is essential. For becoming a registered nurse, students require a diploma in high school and an ADN (associate degree in nursing) or BSN (Bachelor of Science in nursing) degree.
Certification/ License Students may obtain CNA certification, after completing the training of a specific time period and passing the nurse aide certification exam, conducted by the state. In order to obtain an RN licensure, students must pass a National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), organized by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
Job Level Nursing assistants are considered as entry-level workers. They work under the direction of RNs and LPNs. Registered nurses are considered as higher level workers. These professionals supervise the work of nurse aides and licensed practical nurses.
Job Responsibilities Certified nurse aides provide basic care to the patients. They perform the following duties:

  • Checking the patients frequently
  • Measuring blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature, etc.
  • Feeding and transporting the patients
  • Helping the patients in exercising, moving and bathing
  • Taking care of personal hygiene needs of the patients
  • Infection controlling and cleaning patient’s room

CNAs deal with routine activities of the patients.

Registered nurses perform following duties:

  • Assigning tasks to CNAs
  • Supervising LPNs and registered nurses
  • Wound dressing
  • Administering injections and medication
  • Helping with medical processes

These professionals deal with management, care plans and supervision.

Working Alternatives Nurse aides may work in a variety of settings, like rehabilitation centers, day care centers, assisted living centers, nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, etc. RNs work in doctor’s offices or hospitals.
Career Advancement A CNA does not get many opportunities for career advancement. After acquiring additional educational qualifications and training, they may become an LPN or RN. RNs may assume the roles of management. They can work as nurse practitioners, after acquiring further training.
Scope of Practice Certified nurse aides work under the direction of RNs. They cannot carry out the duties of a registered nurse. RNs work more closely with the patients. Registered nurses can carry out the responsibilities and duties of a CNA.
Salary According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nursing assistants earned an average annual income of $24,010 and hourly income of $11.54, in the year 2010. According to BLS, registered nurses earned an average annual income of $64,690 and hourly income of $31.10, in the year 2010.

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