The process of becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant requires passing both a written and practical skills tests, after which one can be eligible for employment in a designated state. Depending on the individual’s location, the CNA skills test may cover three to six different practices required of nursing aides, which will be demonstrated in front of an examiner in order to assure proficiency. Although there may only be a few skills which are needed to show proficiency during this portion of the test, aspiring nurses should know that the test designators can choose from around thirty different practical tasks that Certified Nursing Aides should be able to perform.
These tests are conducted in a clinical setting and replicate a sample patient experience. Thus, it is important to have a strong grasp of all hands-on skills that you may have to demonstrate competency in. A sample of those skills include:
- Hand Hygiene
- Applying Knee High Elastic Stockings
- Bedpan assistance
- Ambulation using a transfer belt
- Denture cleaning
- Recording a radial pulse
- Counting and recording respirations
- Dressing clients with weak or injured arms
- Feeding patients
- Assisting with bed baths
- Recording and measurement of patient or client blood pressure, weight and urinary output
- Patient side positioning
- Foot care
- Providing mouth care
- Perineal care
- Moving the patient from wheelchair to bed using a transfer belt
Depending on your state, you may also have to record a measurement. Items that may be measured include:
- Blood Pressure
- Urinary output
- Radial pulse
Actual “patients” or “clients” are utilized within this testing scenario. It will be important to interact with and speak with that subject as if they are a real patient. Test takers should brush up on the proper way to wash hands. Nursing aides will be expected to perform proper sanitary practices, including disposing of waste. Cleanliness is not only required of the aide but also the patient. Before going in to take the skills test, it is critical to make sure you carry a positive attitude and demeanor. This may go along way on the examination portion of the test also; potentially showing the examiner that the patient is in good hands. Just like the skills that are needed to pass the CNA skills test, communication can be practiced each time the prospective nursing aide is in a position to do so.
While more direct skills like moving patients from bed-to-bed and placing in the correct body position demand a thorough understanding by a Certified Nursing Aide, they should also understand that patients benefit from kindness and care as well. On top of this, anticipating what is required during each duty without having the examiner step in may potentially impress those watching, including the patient. It is important to understand that the test is practical and there are reasons for being proficient in what is needed by a Certified Nursing Aide. Not only will this make for a better CNA, but a safer one as well.
Preparation for becoming certified and passing the skills test will occur during on the job training. Despite having prior exposure to these potential test requirements, potential nursing aides must have the ability to practice the skills outside of the healthcare facility before being asked to do them in front of an examiner. These skills are not simply to demonstrate the ability of the test taker, but are required for the proper care of those in need. Therefore, it is recommended that applicants for certification do their homework before going in to take the test. One good way to brush up on these hands-on patient/client skills is to watch CNA test skills videos. A listing of some of the videos can be found here.