When they finish their state-required education, nursing assistants take a competency exam for CNA certification. Assistants who complete a minimum of 75 hours of state-approved training and pass a competency evaluation are known as certified nurse assistants or CNAs. Online CNA certification courses are available. Titles may vary from state to state. 

Nursing assistants who have passed the exam and are now a CNA are placed on a state registry.  In many states, nursing aides and attendants must be on the state registry to work in a nursing home.  Some state have other requirements as well, such as continuing education and a criminal background check.  Check with your state‚Äôs board of nursing or health, for more information.

The National Nurse Aide Assessment Program, or NNAAP, is a written CNA certification exam which qualifies the student for state and federal certification.  The NNAAP has two components; a written or oral portion and a skills-demonstration portion.  Each candidate must successfully complete both components of the exam before a state can add their name to the state nurse aide registry.  The state registry is used to assure employers that the potential hire has met the federal and state requirements for employment.

According to National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the NNAAP written examination is comprised of 70 multiple-choice items; 10 are pretest items (non-scored) on which statistical information will be collected.  The NNAAP oral examination is comprised of 60 multiple-choice items and 10 reading comprehension (word recognition) items.  The candidate is allowed to choose between a written and an oral examination.

The NNAAP CNA examination includes the following sections:

  • Physical Career Skills
    • activities of daily living (e.g. hygiene, dressing and grooming,nutrition)
    • basic nursing skills (e.g. infection control, safety, emergency, data collection)
    • restorative skills (e.g. prevention, self care, independence
  • Psychosocial Care Skills
    • emotional and mental health
    • spiritual and cultural needs
  •  Role of the Nurse Assistant
    • communication
    • client rights
    • legal and ethical behavior
    • health care team member

See also the CNA Online Classes page on this site for more information and online options.

Information on this page summarized from:
(1) Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Nursing Assistants and Orderlies, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm
(2) National Council of State Boards of Nursing, https://www.ncsbn.org/1721.htm
(3)Image credit: Image of CNA licensed from Fotolia, LLC.

This site is intended only for informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional guidance.
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