Texas CNA Skills (Part Thirteen): Resources to Help Prepare for the CNA State Test

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The National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP), also known as the CNA state test, must be passed by any nurse aide who wants to attain state certification as a CNA. In addition, nurse aides who plan to pass the CNA state test on the very first attempt would be wise to utilize all of the resources they can possibly get their hands on. It also helps that many of the existing resources are completely free!

Fortunately, there are numerous resources out there to help students conquer the state test successfully. Preparation is the key, so the following resources will prove useful only if the student uses them and does not wait until the last minute to cram them in and study during the final hour. In fact, studying for the CNA state test should really be an ongoing process in which small amounts of material are covered each day.

Even though a mountain of testing information exists throughout the deepest crevices of the world wide web, a few of the resources might be terribly outdated or not all that informative. Therefore, a list of more relevant resources have been compiled and listed below to help nurse aide students prepare for the CNA state test. Take a deep breath, relax, prepare, and enjoy your future nursing assistant career!

  • Other Schools’ CNA Program Websites: Many CNA programs publish their lecture notes, study guides, PowerPoint presentations, online lessons and other learning materials for free. Click here to get to a series of excellent PowerPoint presentations on CNA lessons from the Kings County Office of Education.
  • Texas Curriculum for Nurse Aides in Long Term Care Facilities: This is the official nurse aide curriculum that has been approved for use by the state of Texas. In fact, the theory and skills contained within this curricula are used to formulate the questions and skills scenarios on the Texas CNA state test. Click here to get to the Texas curriculum.
  • Illinois State Nursing Exam Practice Test: This is a sample CNA state test that is being offered completely online through the Southern Illinois University website. This exam enables the user to select the number of questions; moreover, it automatically checks the submitted answers for correctness. Unlike the real CNA state test, no time limit have been imposed on this practice test.
  • Study Guide Books: There happens to be a myriad of CNA study guides for sale on websites such as Amazon, Ebay and Barnes & Noble that are designed to help test takers prepare for the written portion of the CNA state test. Purchasing one of these study guides might be a wise investment.
  • National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) Practice Exam: This practice test contains a number of questions that are extremely similar to ones that will be seen on the written section of the CNA state test. Therefore, it would be a good idea to take this practice exam, review the answers, and study the rationales for all the answers. Click here to get to the NNAAP Practice Exam.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): The BLS website, which happens to be updated and maintained by the United States Department of Labor on a regular basis, contains the most up-to-date statistics on the nursing assistant role. The BLS site has info such as routine nurse aide duties, work environment, average pay rates, and projected job outlook. Click here to get to the BLS nursing assistant web page.
  • Your CNA School: Do not forget to utilize the CNA school that you attended because the instructors can serve as knowledgeable resources. A reputable CNA program will be staffed with instructors who want students to succeed, so it is in the best interests of the school’s staff to assist graduates in preparing for the state test.
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Texas CNA Skills (Part Twelve): Understand the Patient Care Scenario!

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The CNA state test consists of  a written section as well as a hands-on clinical skills portion. The clinical skills section of the CNA state exam test is comprised of multiple procedural skills interwoven into a simulated patient care scenario that has been formulated to resemble situations nursing assistants aides normally encounter during the course of a shift at the workplace.

The clinical skills section of the CNA state test is administered in a simulated caregiving situation that will look almost exactly like the patient care environment in which most nursing assistants are expected to function. Unless specified otherwise, all the equipment and supplies a test taker needs during the clinical skills section of the CNA state test will be supplied by the testing site.

The skills section of the CNA state test will be designed to seem as realistic as possible. Also, the test taker will perform the hand-washing skill the on first instance it is needed in the test. However, after the first hand-washing demonstration, all other moments that require hand hygiene will only need to be verbalized. For instance, after performing foot care, the test taker would verbalize, “Now I would wash my hands.”

The patient care scenario will be typed on a sheet of paper or index card and handed to the test taker by the testing site evaluator. In most cases the testing site evaluator will read the scenario instructions to the test taker before the clinical skills section of the CNA state test is slated to begin.

The ‘patient’ who participates in the simulated patient care scenario is usually another test taker who has graciously volunteered to step into that role. In other words, test takers will perform hands-on skills on each other during the CNA state test. Test takers who volunteer to pose as a patient must adhere to a predetermined dress code.

However, instances do arise where performance of a procedural skill on a mannequin would be far more appropriate. For instance, if the scenario card involves an intimate skill such as perineal care or urinary catheter care, the test taker will demonstrate it on a mannequin rather than another person.

The following is an example of a simulated patient care scenario that is similar to what one would receive during the skills section of the CNA state test.

Sample Scenario 

Ms. Hernandez: Hand-washing / Manual Blood Pressure / Give Modified Bed Bath / Mouth Care / Position on Side

Ms. Hernandez is a 65-year-old long term resident of Curry Hills Nursing & Rehab Center who has hypertension and major depressive disorder. She has refused showers for the third day in a row due to her depressed mood. When you enter Ms. Hernandez’s room, you find her laying in bed. She is wearing a hospital gown, bra and underwear.

You will wash your hands and check Ms. Hernandez’s blood pressure manually before giving her a modified bed bath. You will perform oral care prior to positioning her on her side. You will leave Ms. Hernandez in a position of safety and comfort. You will document as needed while providing the care.

 

CNA State Examination Practice Questions (Part Four)

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QUESTION: The resident has returned to the nursing home this afternoon after having undergone a minor same-day surgery at a freestanding surgical center earlier this morning. The resident has a doctor’s order to receive a full liquid diet for the rest of the day. The resident is now telling the nursing assistant, “I am getting really hungry right now.” Which food items and fluids would be appropriate on the meal tray of a resident who has been prescribed a full liquid diet?

A. Cream soup, broth, vanilla ice cream, water, and orange juice

B. Chicken noodle soup, sliced apples, side salad, and hot tea

C. Turkey bacon sandwich, corn on the cob, pudding, and milk

D. Spaghetti with meatballs, green beans, chocolate cake, and cola

ANSWER: A (The full liquid diet consists of fluids and food items that are usually in liquid form, as well as food items that will melt into liquid form when they are at room temperature, such as ice cream, ice cubes and popsicles. The full liquid diet allows the resident’s body to heal from the recent surgical procedure).

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QUESTION: The charge nurse has told the nursing assistant, “The patient in room 209 is in shock.” The nursing assistant knows to place the patient in which of the following positions in bed if any signs and symptoms of shock are noted:

A. The high Fowler’s position

B. The Trendelenberg position

C. The Sims’ position

D. The low Fowler’s position

ANSWER: B (The nursing assistant would place the patient in the Trendelenberg position when the signs and symptoms of shock are being experienced by the patient. This position places the legs of the patient in an elevated position that is higher than the head. This position also promotes return of the blood in the extremities (arms and legs) back into the circulating blood, therefore increasing the patient’s blood volume and blood pressure. The Sims and Fowler’s positions cannot produce these effects).

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QUESTION: The instructor is teaching a group of nurse aide students about the various roles of the different members of the multidisciplinary team within a typical nursing home setting. The instructor knows that her teaching has been effective if the nurse aide student is able to correctly pair the following healthcare worker with the associated duties and functions:

A. Dietitian: meal preparation

B. Speech language pathologist: instruction of new languages

C. Physical therapist: ambulation and balance/gait exercises

D. Certified nursing assistant: ordering medications

ANSWER: C (Physical therapists deliver rehabilitative and restorative care techniques, including assistance with ambulation and balance/gait exercises. Speech language pathologists, also known as speech therapists, assess and treat residents who are afflicted with swallowing disorders; in addition, they assess and treat residents with speech disorders and communicative problems that sometimes happen after a stroke. Speech language pathologists do not teach people new languages.

The primary role of a dietitian in the nursing home setting is to formulate nutritional programs designed to improve or maintain the health statuses of the residents who reside there; conversely, they do not prepare meals in the nursing home setting. Ordering medications is not within the scope of practice for certified nursing assistants).

 

CNA State Examination Practice Questions (Part Two)

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QUESTION: The nursing assistant observes a very small fire in the outdoor smoking area of the skilled nursing facility where he works. He has been trained to extinguish small fires through nurse aide training and annual fire safety in-service training at his place of employment. This nursing assistant is following the proper sequence for using a fire extinguisher if he:

A. Pulls the fire extinguisher’s pin, aims at the base of the fire, squeezes the fire extinguisher’s handle, and sweeps in a back and forth motion.

B. Aims at the base of the fire, pulls the pin, squeezes the handle of the fire extinguisher, and sweeps in a back and forth sweeping motion.

C. Pulls the pin of the fire extinguisher, gently shakes the fire extinguisher, aims at the base, squeezes the handle of the fire extinguisher, and sweeps in a back and forth sweeping motion.

D. Aims at the middle of the fire, pulls the pin, squeezes the fire extinguisher’s handle, ans sweeps in a back and forth sweeping motion.

ANSWER: A (the proper sequence of steps to use a fire extinguisher can be readily recalled by remembering the PASS acronym, which stands for PULL-AIM-SQUEEZE-SWEEP. P = pull the pin out to activate the fire extinguisher. A = aim the fire extinguisher toward fire’s base. S = squeeze the fire extinguisher’s handle to facilitate expulsion of the container’s contents. S = sweep in a back and forth motion across the fire’s base as the contents of the fire extinguisher are expelled).

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QUESTION: The nursing assistant has strong suspicions that a CNA coworker might be verbally abusing an elderly patient at the post-acute rehabilitation center where they both work. What is the first action that the nursing assistant must take?

A. Place a telephone call to the local sheriffs department to report the suspicions of abuse. Ensure the names of the resident and suspected abuser are available just in case more information is requested.

B. Report the suspected abuse to the charge nurse or facility administrator.

C. Privately confront the suspected abuser and demand that she immediately stop verbally abusing the elderly patient.

D. Do nothing at the moment since the nursing assistant only has suspicions of possible verbal abuse without any substantiated proof.

ANSWER: B (nursing assistants are mandated reporters who are legally mandated to report all instances of witnessed abuse, as well as any suspected abuse and neglect. The nursing assistant does not need proof of suspected abuse in order to report it; rather, a designated person will investigate the allegation of abuse. The nursing assistant should not call the sheriffs department since the administrator and/or charge nurse knows to adhere to facility procedures for initiation of investigations of alleged abuse).

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QUESTION: The nursing assistant student is currently learning about principles of infection control during this evening’s nurse aide lessons at school. The instructor has made all students in the classroom aware that some questions regarding infection control might be included on the written section of the CNA state test. The student answers the instructor’s question correctly if she responds that the following entity is a host of infection:

A. A wadded piece of toilet paper contaminated with stool

B. A stethoscope contaminated with the microbe that causes whopping cough

C. A sick patient who is currently infected with tuberculosis

D. A sick dog who is currently infected with rabies

ANSWER: C (according to the chain of infection, an infected human being is a host of infection. A vector is a living nonhuman, such as an infectious dog, mice, tick or mosquito, that can transmit infections to humans. A fomite is an inanimate object, such as used toilet paper, contaminated equipment, and unclean door knobs, that can potentially spread infection via direct contact).

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.”

Texas CNA Skills (Part Ten): General Guidelines for the CNA State Exam

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The following list is a set of general guidelines to help future nurse aide test takers know what to expect when taking the CNA state test.

  1. Always remember to speak with the patient to whom you are providing care, even if it might be a manikin. Effective communication entails introducing oneself and clearly explaining the procedural skills, which is all part of the skills section of the CNA state test.
  2. Equipment for the procedural skills will be available at the testing center. The nurse aide evaluator will give the test taker a list of all the equipment needed for the procedural skills that will need to be performed. It is the responsibility of the test taker to gather all the equipment. Thus, the test taker should gather and organize all needed equipment in a manner that is easiest for him or her.
  3. At the moment the skills competency section of the CNA state test begins, the test taker is allotted approximately 30 minutes to work through all of the assigned procedural skills.
  4. The test taker is required to wash his or her hands at the beginning of the simulated patient care scenario for the CNA state test. Hand-washing is the first procedural skill to be performed. The test taker is expected to perform hand hygiene by using hand sanitizer at other moments during the CNA state test as needed.
  5. The patient’s privacy and safety must be upheld during the entirety of the simulated patient care scenario. In addition, strict compliance with infection control techniques must be sustained during the entire scenario for the CNA state test.
  6. The test taker will need to physically work through each step associated with every procedural skill he or she has been assigned for the CNA state test. Once the skill is started, if an error is made, the test taker must say so and correct himself or herself. The test taker will be expected to complete the step that was missed.
  7. For the CNA state test, side rails are utilized only for safety with certain procedural skills performances. At other times, the side rails should be in the low position.
  8. Always keep in mind that the CNA state test should be reflective of the test taker’s provision of basic nursing care duties to a real patient and performance of direct hands-on care for that person.
  9. For the skills competency section of the CNA state test, the test taker can be safe to assume that he or she will be performing the skills on one patient and/or manikin and will not be alternating from resident to resident as a typical nursing assistant would in a nursing facility setting. The test taker must become proficient at all of the testable skills in addition to the opening procedures and closing steps for each skill.

REFERENCES

Lewis-Clark State College. (2013). Student Skills Packet. Retrieved from http://www.lcsc.edu/media/117278/2013-Student-Skills-Packet.pdf

CNA State Examination Practice Questions (Part One)

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As nursing assistant students enrolled in a nurse aide training program, a number of steps exist that can be taken to promote mastery of the knowledge and skills needed to pass the CNA state test. A few of these steps include cultivating top-notch study habits that are conducive to one’s personal learning style, reviewing some material on a daily basis, and staying abreast of various tips and tricks to help answer the trickiest of practice test questions.

A diligent student engages in self-discovery to pinpoint the manner in which he or she learns most optimally. Even though a wide array of different theories exist regarding adult learning styles, it is best to simplify things by asserting that a pupil can be a visual learner, auditory learner, tactile learner, kinesthetic learner, or perhaps a combination of two or more learning styles.

It has also been said that repetition is the mother of all learning. Learning by repetition is a valid way of becoming proficient at answering knowledge-based questions. Simply put, the more a nurse aide student answers practice questions, the more prepared he or she will be at the testing center when answering the real exam questions on the knowledge (or oral) section of the CNA state test.

One proven way of boosting a skill proficiency or becoming competent at a task is to ensure that it is a stored routine in the consciousness of the learner. To make sure this process takes place, the most imperative first step is to elevate the skill to a conscious level whereby the nurse aide student deliberately ruminates over the activity, but not necessarily the desired skill itself.

In other words, the nurse aide student has full knowledge about the particular skill that he or she lacks (read: answering knowledge-based test questions) and, therefore, focuses on accomplishing the types of activities that will help him or her build the skill (e.g., reading, creating flashcards, repeatedly answering practice questions). This type of learning is what educators commonly refer to as learning by repetition.

To prepare adequately for the written knowledge section of the CNA state test, a nurse aide student should answer multiple practice questions each and every day. Click on the video below to see a handful of examples of the types of questions that will appear on the written portion of the CNA state test.