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Would it be better for someone with limited financial resources who wants to pursue a career as a nurse to get a CNA, LPN or BSN?



Dear Donna,

I have a bachelor’s degree in accounting from 2007 but have always had an interest in nursing. I have been a stay-at-home mom since graduating and am now looking to pursue a career. I know I can take an accelerated BSN course but I would need to take a lot of prerequisites. I don’t have a lot of money to invest in school and I am wondering if it would be better to get my CNA or LPN instead of a BSN. That way I wouldn’t have to take prerequisites and I could work sooner. Then I could go for my BSN.

Wants to Pursue Nursing

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Wants to Pursue Nursing,

Whether you pursue an LPN, CNA or BSN is something you will have to decide by weighing all the factors related to your personal finances, time and other obligations/responsibilities. But I will offer the following advice and information:

1. If it’s between CNA or LPN as an interim step, I would go for the CNA. You can do it more quickly and it is less expensive than getting an LPN. You probably will have a better chance of finding a job and it is a great way to launch an RN career.

2. There is plenty of scholarship money available for those go after it. Find out how and where by reading “Master the scholarship game” ( Finances should never hold you back. Where there is a will there is always a way.

3. Consider working as a CNA while you take you pre-requisites and then get right into an accelerated BSN program. The time is going to pass no matter what you do. Sometimes the shortest route, even if you have to make sacrifices along the way, will pay off sooner. Regardless of the route you choose, you’ll be moving in the right direction.

Best wishes,


About Author

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://www.

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