Very good question! Before I was a nurse, I was a CNA, and this did provide me with some experience, such as having the courage to go into a patient's room and managing a patient assignment. I REALLY gained nursing experience, though, once I started working as an RN. Being a CNA does give you exposure, but the nurse role is very different. As a nurse, you are primarily responsible for the overall care of the patients and may even oversee LPNs and other CNAs. Also as a nurse, you will also be a speaking directly with doctors, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, and other healthcare team members to provide updates on patients or to collaborate if a problem arises. I also learned about medications, how to properly administer medications and blood products as a nurse. In general, you will gain more exposure to the nursing profession once you begin working as a nurse.
If you do have the opportunity to work as CNA, I greatly encourage it so that you will understand their role once you become a nurse. I have met many nurses who were never CNAs and unfortunately mistreated the ancillary staff because they weren't nurses, and I found this conduct terrible and unprofessional. My experience as a CNA was invaluable, and I was able to relate to all the CNAs I have worked with since I used to be a CNA. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!