What is Certified Nursing Assistant Certification?
Certification is the government’s official approval given to a person, which allows her to start a career as a CNA. Think of it as a license. There are two things a person needs to do in order to become a certified CNA: graduate from an approved training program, and then pass the official certification test. Passing the CNA exam is the final step in qualifying for a new career as a Certified Nursing Assistant, and it is not negotiable. In other words, you absolutely must pass the CNA exam to become certified and be allowed to work as a nurse’s aide. Failing the exam means you’ll have to retake the test in the future, pay additional testing fees, and possibly pay for more training. Some people wonder why they have to pass a test if they’ve already graduated from an approved CNA training program; to them it seems like their diploma should be all the proof anyone needs that they’re qualified. In theory, that makes sense, but in reality, certification is not a waste of time at all. Yes, a training program may be approved, but that doesn’t mean that every teacher in the school is excellent. Some teachers could take bribes, or pass a person to be “nice.” Some students may have gotten their diploma by cheating. So, to protect the public, passing the exam is the necessary final step to CNA certification.
What is the Certified Nursing Assitant test like?
Well, there are two parts to the CNA test. There’s a written (or oral) exam, and a skills test, which is taken on location in an actual or simulated health care facility. This way, the candidate will demonstrate that he knows both what to do, and how to do it. Head knowledge isn’t enough, and in the hectic world of health care, there’s no time for on the job training. Nurses and other aides won’t have the time, desire or patience to interrupt what they’re doing to instruct someone who is supposed to know what he’s doing. That’s why the skills test is so important. The written test is also important, and it will usually have about 70 multiple choice questions on it, and the candidate will have two hours or so to finish it. These questions will cover all aspects of the duties a CNA is expected to perform, and the information needed to perform them correctly. In many states, the written exam can be taken orally if a person chooses to do so because they have trouble reading, or they’re not fluent in English.
The skills test will take place in a setting such as a hospital or a nursing home, or a room set up exactly like a room in such a facility, and the candidate will have to perform five different procedures on actual people in order to pass this portion of the exam. What makes this especially tricky is that a person has no idea which five procedures they’re going to asked to demonstrate. During training, a student is expected to master a few dozen skills they will need on the job, such as: feeding a patient who can’t feed himself, helping a patient with a bedpan, bathing a patient in bed or in the bathroom, making an unoccupied bed, making a bed with the patient in it, turning a patient to face you, giving an enema, taking a temperature orally, taking a temperature rectally, measuring and recording pulse, measuring and recording blood pressure, dealing with a patient who is confused or has memory loss, cleaning dentures, shaving a male patient, etc.
Of course, since a person should have all these skills (and more) down pat by the time they graduate, it should be no problem demonstrating them. In fact, far more CNA candidates fail the written portion of the exam than fail the skills portion. So it’s really important to brush up for the written/oral exam. There are some good study guides and flash card sets available for those who want to prepare as much as they can so they can get started on their CNA career right away. As far as fees, you should double check in your area, but as of this writing, taking both tests will cost around $100 in the state of Texas, for example ($93 for the written & skills tests, or $106 for the oral & skills tests). Should a person fail, they will be charged another fee every time they retake the exams, although the cost is usually lower than the initial testing fee. So there you have it; you’ve got the information you need, now it’s time to get started on your new career, and it all starts with taking a class and passing your CNA certification exam.
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