CNAs and the Basics of Reciprocity

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So, just what exactly is reciprocity? Those who currently work in the allied healthcare field as CNAs (certified nursing assistants) or have plans to become a CNA will need to become very familiar with the concept of reciprocity. Knowing what reciprocity means is of the essence, especially in this modern day and age where people relocate to different regions more often than in the recent past.

Reciprocity is the multi-step process that permits CNAs who hold out-of-state certification to obtain a new CNA certificate in a receiving state, pending approval from the new state’s CNA registry or board of nursing. In other words, reciprocity agreements let CNAs officially transfer their certification from state to state. This allows CNAs to legally work as nursing assistants in their new home states.

In order to successfully complete the process of reciprocity and receive a CNA certificate from the new state of residence, a CNA will need to fulfill one or more state-specific requirements. The reciprocity process can be complicated at times because each state has different requirements for CNA training, clinical hours, continuing education (CEs), certification renewal, and so forth.

Pre-existing reciprocity agreements allow the different states to sort through variances in CNA certification requirements to more easily facilitate certificate transfers and fill healthcare job openings with qualified, experienced candidates. The vast majority of states in the U.S. have reciprocity policies in place for CNAs and other types of allied healthcare workers to transfer their certificates.

When would a CNA need to be concerned with the process of reciprocity? Well, a CNA who plans to move out of state needs to become familiar with reciprocity if he or she wants to obtain CNA certification in his or her new state of residence. Therefore, a CNA who intends to relocate to another state will need to start making preparations far in advance by looking up the CNA requirements in the new state.

Each state has individual laws and regulations regarding CNA certification. As a consequence, the state in which a nurse aide initially earned his or her CNA certification could quite possibly have some very different requirements for CNA training and continuing education than the state where he or she has plans to relocate.

In addition, the number of training hours required to become a CNA can drastically differ from state to state. As a classic example, the state of Alabama requires nurse aides to obtain 75 hours of occupational training to attain eligibility for certification as a CNA. The training hours are partitioned in the following way: 59 hours of class and return lab demonstration time, and 16 hours of hands-on clinical practicum externship.

Let’s consider the next scenario. A nurse aide who went to school and attained a CNA certification in Alabama ends up moving to the state of California several years down the line. Now an issue may have arisen since California requires more training hours to get a CNA certification than Alabama. California requires 160 hours of occupational training to become a CNA, more than double the 75 hours of training required by Alabama.

CNA training hours in California are partitioned in the following manner: 60 hours of classroom theory schooling along with 100 hours of hands-on clinical practicum externship. In this complicated situation, the CNA from Alabama who wants to move to California would fall short of exactly one hour of classroom theory schooling and a whopping 84 hours of clinical externship training.

In this case, the receiving state of California would utilize their pre-existing reciprocity agreement policies to determine whether or not to grant CNA certification to the nurse aide from Alabama. California’s reciprocity agreement entails policies to accept out-of-state nurse aides and grant them CNA certification if they can prove they have accrued at least two years of recent work experience as a CNA in the previous home state.

Other state boards of nursing might outright refuse to issue a CNA certificate to the nurse aide from Alabama, and consequently ask the person to complete additional nursing assistant training that fulfills the new state’s schooling requirements. Also, some states may opt to grant CNA certification to the nurse aide from Alabama due to his or her number of years of work experience as a nursing assistant.

Still, a few states may make the choice to grant a conditional or provisional CNA certification to the nurse aide from Alabama pending one or more specific requirements that will need to be met. The Alabama nurse aide may be required to complete additional schooling, submit proof of completion of specific continuing education or in-service coursework, or successfully challenge the CNA state test in the new state of residence.

The theme of this posting is the overall importance of empowering oneself with as much knowledge as possible about the reciprocity process for CNAs, especially if an out-of-state move is planned in the near or distant future. After all, knowledge is power. It would be a crying shame to struggle to secure employment in one’s new state of residence due to a lack of awareness regarding the process of CNA reciprocity.

Train to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in approximately two weeks at Legacy Healthcare Careers, a CNA School in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas. The staff at Legacy Healthcare Careers can be reached 24 hours a day at (682)626-5266 so prospective students can jump-start a life-transforming career change in the healthcare field.

Legacy Healthcare Careers delivers affordable, quality career training as well as job placement assistance. Pick up the telephone and call (682)626-5266 to enroll.

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