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How to Get a CNA & PCT Nurse License

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Certified nurse assistants (CNA) and patient care technicians (PCT) work in a variety of nursing homes, medical clinics and hospitals everywhere. The positions are very similar, but PCTs are able to perform a few extra duties, such as administering electrocardiograms (EKG) and doing blood work. The steps to become a certified nurse assistant (CNA) or a patient care technician (PCT) are the same; a PCT program will just take a little longer. Training requirements will also vary slightly from state to state.

Obtain training through either a college program, a Red Cross program or on-the-job. Classes as well as job training can last anywhere from four weeks to six months, depending on the state, the program and whether you are attending full- or part-time. On-the-job training is usually shorter and allows you to start working right away, whereas college or Red Cross programs provide more thorough preparation. On-the-job training is often offered free in exchange for the work hours and is contingent on continued employment at the facility.

Sign up to take your state’s certification exam. Usually your training program or job site will help you with this. If getting trained on-the-job, you will often be able to keep working during the time between finishing training and taking the exam.

Study for the exam. There will be a written portion of the exam, which focuses on basic knowledge of equipment and procedures, and a clinical portion where you will be asked to demonstrate skills. Sample exams are available online for studying. Use textbooks and handouts from your training as study tools. Continuing to work in a facility will keep your skills sharp for the clinical portion.

Take the exam. Once the results are assessed by the exam provider, your license will be issued.

About the Author

Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.

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