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Getting a CNA License: How to be a Certified Nursing Assistant

Having a valid Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license enables nursing aides to practice in diverse patient care settings within the healthcare industry. CNA-licensed professionals work with various kinds of patients and help ensure that they are being cared for.

The license is granted to nursing assistants once they complete federal and state-approved nurse training programs and pass a CNA certification exam. Once the CNA license has been awarded, nurse aides can work in various hospitals, nursing homes, patient care units and other health care facilities.

Exam for CNA certification

Aspiring CNAs must undergo professional training and pass a CNA certification test before obtaining a license. After completing a CNA training program, you qualify for the certification exam. This exam is referred to as the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP). The state Nurse Aide Registry lists NNAAP passers who become eligible for various certified nursing aide positions or any similar job.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing develops the nurse assistant competency evaluation program within both federal and state levels. Certification exam applicants can view practice exams on its official website.

The certification exam comprises of two parts:

Skills test: This test will provide an in-depth evaluation of your skills in five key areas, which are arbitrary selected from 25 areas. This is where your CNA training comes in handy. Your grades will be based on the performance of each skill that you demonstrate. However, you are required to perform the skills and must pass all five of these areas. These areas include perineal care, patient dressing, measuring and recording, transfer and positioning, and so on.
Written test: This is a multiple-choice type of test, which may include federal healthcare regulations that are applicable for each state.
You must pass both tests with flying colors before you can be granted the certification license. This license will be released by your State and issued within 16 weeks upon exam completion. You also have an option of having an oral exam in English if you cannot submit to an English written exam for obvious reasons. Or you can partake in a written exam in another language. Just let your proctor know in advance.

In some states, applicants can take the exam 3 times. However, this is only applicable if you still have validated papers. You can re-take a test if you failed in one part, but if you failed both parts three consecutive times, you need to undergo re-training.

If you successfully passed and urgently need a job ASAP, you can submit your CNA certification paper accompanied by its Skills and Written Skills Completion Card, and Completion Certificate to your potential employer pending the issuance of your certification.

How to get CNA certification online

By performing basic web searches, you may chance upon online CNA courses, materials or programs that are offered to you at no cost. Unfortunately, many of these programs do not meet federal or state requirements in order for you to get a valid CNA certification.

However, given the right circumstances, these online courses can act as a supplement for people currently enrolled in a traditional CNA training program. Pick the online course that will provide you with valuable information in improving your effectiveness and proficiency in your industry.

Also, look for CNA online courses that are being offered by accredited vocational schools and colleges. To do this, consult your local or state government’s Health Department or directly contact schools and healthcare facilities that provide CNA training. In order to achieve a legitimate certification license, it is advisable to complete an online clinical training program at a qualified facility. Online training programs are made of clinical coursework and laboratory studies all done virtually.

Online CNA courses are also convenient for anyone looking to earn a certification license, but are currently employed in hospitals or in any healthcare center.

CNA certification requirements

Nurse aides are now required to be state-certified and have a CNA license. The CNA certification requirements include:

Completing a CNA training course or program (courses cover subjects such as anatomy, physiology, body mechanics, client rights, nutrition, blood testing, dementia, infection control, and medical terminology)
Passing a state- or federal-regulated skills and written examination
Passing physical examinations (e.g. exams on allergies, tuberculosis, etc.)
CNA’s hired by nursing care centers are federal government-regulated and must serve at least 75 hours of training. Each State has its own specific requirements, so you must ensure to review your state board for more information.

How long does CNA certification take

The length of CNA training depends on what particular program you’re in; whether you’re a full-time student, or currently employed and studies on a part-time basis.

Full-time programs may take a minimum of three weeks to complete. However, some part-time programs may last up to eight weeks. State training requirements may affect the length of CNA training programs.

Here’s a rundown of CNA training programs detailing the length of time it takes to complete and award that certification license:

Accelerated training programs

Accelerated CNA training can be completed in a minimum of four weeks. Classes that utilize this format demand a daily eight-hour schedule. To complete the program, CNA students must participate in all daily lectures and clinical coursework. The nursing board in each state prepares rules and regulations for the amount of required hours a student must complete to qualify for a CNA license.

College programs

In collaboration with healthcare centers, nursing homes and hospitals, colleges offer accelerated and semestral CNA training programs. Typically, you can find such training programs in community colleges, which are part of noncredit initiatives focusing on adult education. Plus, these CNA college programs are taught by qualified nurses.

Daytime and Nightshift programs

These CNA training courses are more geared towards adults that have work and family obligations. Such courses offer flexible hours where you can choose to attend classes during daytime or in the evenings. However, they last longer than accelerated programs to accommodate different time schedules. Usually, hospitals, community colleges and organizations, vocational schools, and private healthcare companies provide these types of programs.

With these programs, you don’t have to wait for years to obtain a CNA license. As long as you undergo professional, accredited training and pass the required examinations, you can earn your license pretty quickly. A licensed nursing assistant, who is employed under the direction of a registered nurse, can get jobs in long-term care settings, hospitals and staffing agencies.