By Melanie Ullman
In order to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant, you must complete a nurses aide training course, then pass the CNA certification test given by the State Board of Nursing. The certification test consists of two parts, a written exam and a hands-on or ‘practical’ CNA skills test. Licensing is done by the state, so you will want to register for testing in the state you expect to work in.
In most cases, you will be testing with a group. The written exam is usually given before the skills test, and everyone will take the test at the same time. You will have to answer approximately 100 multiple-choice questions, and are usually given up to two hours to complete them. The written test covers patient care and protocols, patient monitoring and record-keeping, laboratory and testing procedures.
Everything on the written portion will have been covered in your CNA training classes. It is a good idea to review your class materials, handouts, and charts before the certification test, particularly if you won’t be taking it right after completing the course. You can find some sample testing questions for the CNA exam online.
Following the written portion, the instructor takes the finished tests, and then individuals will be called on to perform their skills test one at a time. You may be asked to bring a “model” or helper with you to facilitate the skills testing. This person would act as your patient for you to demonstrate your skills on. The particulars of the skills test will vary, and may not be the same from person to person. You won’t know which skills you will be asked to perform until the actual testing.
You can expect the practical exam to cover the most common skills you will encounter. This might include performing measurements of vital signs – blood pressure, pulse, and respiration; demonstrating the proper way make a bed, both with and without a patient in it; ambulating or moving your patient – helping them dress, moving them in to and out of a wheel chair, etc.; and responding to emergencies such as choking.
You won’t know the outcome of your CNA certification test right then and there; results will be mailed to you. However if you’ve been attentive in class and understand what you’ve been taught, and taken the time to study and review your materials prior to taking the test, you should have no problem passing. Once you have earned your certification, you are then free to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant, Home Health Aide, Nurse’s Aide, or other similar position at any hospital, nursing home, or other facility in your state.