Texas CNA Skills (Part Eleven): Pearls of Wisdom from Nurse Aides Who’ve Passed the CNA State Examination

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Due to legislation that had been enacted and implemented in the late 1980s, nurse aides must obtain state certification as certified nursing assistants (CNAs) if they want to secure employment in certain healthcare facilities that accept federal dollars. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, more simply known as OBRA, established the minimum acceptable standards for nurse aide training.

The overarching goal of nurse aide training programs is to sufficiently prepare students in nursing assistant programs with the practical knowledge, clinical skills, and procedures that must be adhered to by members of staff at all skilled nursing facilities that receive federal payments. In simpler wording, OBRA is the very reason that nurse aides must attain CNA certification if they want to work at these types of workplaces.

So, this is the burning question. How in the world does a nurse aide obtain certification as a CNA? The answer to this question is the following: a nurse aide becomes certified in a particular state by passing the national CNA state exam utilized by that state. A wonderful way to become more familiar and confident with the setup of the CNA state exam is to obtain feedback from nurse aides who have taken and passed the test.

The following responses are from multiple nurse aides who possess firsthand experience in regards to taking the CNA state exam. The responses provided by these nurse aides pertain mainly to the successful completion of the skills section of the CNA state exam. Keep in mind that a written (or oral) section of the CNA state exam exists as well.

The individual and collective insights provided by these nurse aides that pertain to the CNA state test are rather enlightening. In addition, readers can learn quite a bit of new information from the varied perceptions and recollections of these nurse aides’ different experiences with the CNA state exam. Therefore, read and pay close attention to recurrent themes within the responses such as the importance of performing the procedural skills using the correct sequence of steps.

NURSE AIDE ONE: “If you mess up on a step or just forget to complete a step, you will simply lose points. If you forget to do a bold step (also known as a critical element step), or perform it wrongly, you fail the entire skill by default. You should be able to pass the CNA state test as long as you remember to perform the bold steps and always do them right.”

NURSE AIDE TWO: “You will need to do the skills in the exact order on the skills handbook or you will not pass. So, in your spare time, practice on other people or dolls until you have each step memorized. If you can memorize each and every move, you will pass your CNA state test with flying colors.”

NURSE AIDE THREE: “Where I live, the person who watches you do the skills on the CNA state test is looking for you to perform the tasks in the order listed on the handbook. If you perform the tasks out of order, but do them right, points get deducted from the total score.”

NURSE AIDE FOUR: “On the CNA state test I did the steps as I had learned them since I knew I would have forgotten to do something really important if I strayed from what I learned. All the steps are there for a reason. So I suggest you instill them into your memory bank as best as you can.”

NURSE AIDE FIVE: “Do all the steps in the exact order for the skills.”

NURSE AIDE SIX: “I took lessons for CNA and each time when I took the skills exam part of the CNA state test, we needed to complete every skill correctly step by step. It is because these steps were placed and organized the right way so as to cut down on the chances of cross contamination and to teach you the best way to do the skills for the best care of the residents.”

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