Working within the health sector is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding career paths there is. Job satisfaction comes from knowing that you have been able to make a positive difference in someone's life.
Nursing assistants play a crucial role within the health sector and are often the main point of contact for individual patients. Many of the skills required to perform the role of the nursing assistant are developed while involved with patients.
However, for those looking to make a long-term career as a nursing assistant, and who want access to higher aid positions and more responsibility, completing CNA certification is a must.
CNA (certified nursing assistant) programs provide you with all the information and training you need to look after patients at the highest possible level.
As well as being able to develop your general patient welfare skills, you will learn how to take samples and specimens, record a patient's vitals and develop safe and hygienic practices.
To gain CNA status, you must put this learning to the test and undergo an exam. Here are five ways to prepare for the exam and ensure your learning shines through.
Be aware of your examination requirements
The CNA exam has two main components; a written test and a practical skills test. The written component will test you on the areas that were covered in your course.
It will include elements from lectures or discussion groups, textbooks, and handouts. The written exam takes the form of multiple choice questions.
The most important thing to remember with this element of the exam is to read the questions through carefully and to take your time. If you rush, you are likely to make a greater number of mistakes.
The skills test section of the exam is a practical test. You will be asked to demonstrate a range of specific skills using a mock patient.
However, the key thing to remember for this element of the exam is that it is about more than just being able to show the specific skill. It is also about how you interact with the patient, respect their privacy, and take hygiene into consideration.
For example, you may correctly use a blood pressure monitor, but if you do not converse with the patient and use their name you would fail.
Similarly, the same would be true if you failed to wash your hands or close the privacy curtain. Before and aftercare of the patient are just as important as the procedure itself.
Be aware of your state’s requirements
The specific requirements for obtaining CNA certification differ between states. It is always a good idea to check the specific requirements for the state in which you live.
To ensure you have up to date information for your state, visit the Certified Nursing Assistant License website before you undertake the exam.
As well as providing general information about CNA courses, it also provides information on a state by state basis, including a list of approved schools for each state.
It is important to undertake your training and exam at an approved site. If you do not, then you may find that your certification is not valid.
If you wish to work within a different state after completing the examination, you will need to check whether there are further requirements in your new state. Alternatively, refer to the government website for your state, and search for CNA certification.
Know the application process
The specific application process and course requirements may again change from state to state. Each school will set their own minimum entry requirements for CNA courses, with most requiring at least some high school education to have been completed.
You will also have to provide evidence of any previous education you have reached. Most states require all candidates to be at least 16 years old before they can be enrolled in a CNA course.
In addition, you will need to provide proof of identification and age and pass a criminal record check before receiving CNA status.
Once enrolled in a course, you must complete the entirety of it to be put forward for the exam. The course leader will help you arrange the exam, and if you fail either part of the exam, there is usually the option to retake that part at a later date.
The amount of time you have to wait before retaking the exam is again dependent on the state in which you are training.
Know the difference between a regular certification and a re-certification
CNA certification is a life-long process that needs to be renewed at regular intervals.
As well as renewing your certification, you also need to undertake specific actions for your certification to remain valid; the primary requirements are to remain actively working within the healthcare sector and to renew your certification on time.
Most states require renewal every two years. If you let this lapse or stop working within the sector, you will need re-certification, which involves undertaking a short (usually 75-hour) training program to check your competency, and then retaking the certification exam.
Be aware of the mistakes people have made in the past on the exam
The most common mistake made in any exam is not reading the instructions carefully and not taking enough time over each question. The first part of the exam is a multiple-choice written exam that covers five competency areas.
Promotion of function and health of residents and basic nursing care provided by the nursing aide are considered to be the hardest of the five areas covered.
Within these areas, infection control causes the most problems. Mistakes on CNA certification exam include missing out some of the links in the infection cycle and mixing up the order in which protective equipment needs to be put on.
Another simple mistake to make on the exam is to not name all the times when your hands should be washed.
The main mistakes made on the practical exam involve forgetting to treat the patient as a person rather than just an object to be poked and prodded.
Failing to address the patient by name or failing to close the privacy curtain are two of the main reasons people fail. Another reason for a potential fail is recognizing you have made a mistake and carry on regardless.
If you do forget something, stop, let the examiner know you have made a mistake, and ask to start back at the point before the mistake.
Obtaining a CNA certification is a great career move for those looking to take care of the injured, sick, or elderly.
As long as you find the right school that is recognized by your state and complete the work, the exam should be a breeze. If you do face a problem, remember that you always have the option of retaking the exam.
Stay calm, read the questions, and use your knowledge and experience, and you will pass with flying colors.