As you already know, certified nursing assistants go through training to learn how to provide basic quality of life services for their patients, but did you know that in order to perform these tasks a nursing assistant must earn and continue to maintain their CNA license to be employed?
The first step an aspiring certified nursing assistant must take is enrolling in an accredited training program. These programs are generally made up of 11 modules that combine both classroom learning and actual clinical experience through an externship. The number of hours necessary for completion of the training varies from state-to-state, but one can normally finish the program in six-to-eight weeks. Once you have completed your training, you will be eligible to take the the nursing assistant certification exam.
Test Time! What You Should Know About the CNA Exam
Once you have completed your coursework, you will need to get a hold of your state’s Department of Nursing or Department of Health for an application to take the CNA license exam. Part of the application will be submitting yourself to a criminal background check and possibly a drug screening, depending on your state’s requirements. Once approved, you will receive a date, time and location to take the certification exam.
On the day of your exam you should show up on time with a photo ID and a copy of your examination approval letter. The examination itself is composed of two parts or phases. The first part is the written or oral exam which consists of at least 50 multiple choice questions. The total number of questions vary from state to state with the national average settling in at 70 questions. The questions will primarily focus on the information you have learned while in the classroom part of your training.
The second part of the exam is your hands-on skills demonstration in which you will have five randomly selected tasks for a list of twenty-five normal CNA duties. One of these questions will have you measure and record a vital such pulse rate, respiration rate or blood pressure. Usually you have about 30 minutes to correctly complete this portion of the exam.
You will have to pass both parts of the exam in order to become certified. If you fail one part of the exam, you can re-take that portion if you would like. You have three chances to pass the whole exam, after the third time you would need to re-enroll in CNA training in order to take the test again.
After you pass the certification exam, you must once again contact your state’s Board of Nursing for inclusion in the Nurses Aide Registry. It is vital that you are included in the Nurses Aide Registry in order to seek employment. You will receive your physical license to be a CNA a few weeks after you have passed your certification examination.
Keeping Your License
Normally your license is good for two years before re-certification. Each state has different requirements when it comes to maintaining your nursing assistant certification. Some states require you to re-take the full exam while other states have a set number of continuing education hours need to be completed. Contacting your state’s Board of Nursing should give you the full requirements needed to maintain your CNA license.