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North Carolina is considered a “challenge state,” which means that you don’t have to have formal training to be listed as a certified nursing assistant, or CNA, on the NC health care registry. What you are challenging is the state’s training and preparation requirements, not the actual registration process. Both CNA candidates who go through formal state-approved training and those who choose instead to just take the test must meet the qualifications required to work as a CNA in the state.
The Required Test for Certification
North Carolina contracts with Pearson VUE to administer its testing for CNA certification. The test, which cost $101 in 2014, can be taken by anyone who wishes to be listed on the registry that accumulates data on certified nursing assistants and other unlicensed health care workers. You merely have to go online and pay the fee to take the test. Students who complete formal CNA training, as well as those who believe they are prepared, take the same test. If you fail the test three times within a two year period, however, you must participate in a state-certified training program and are no longer qualified to challenge.
Topics to Master
You can go over the topics to be covered on the test through any number of websites, or use the study guide provided by Pearson VUE. The tasks that you need to know to pass the test include all the elements of activities of daily living, such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and skin, hair and nail care. You need to know the details of body mechanics and how to move patients, how to feed and measure liquid and food input and output, as well as several safety precautions. The test covers the North Carolina Board of Nursing list of CNA I required tasks, which also include how to take vital signs, give CPR, and prevent ulcers, or bed sores.
Who Might Take the Challenge
Since the state of North Carolina does not recognize certifications from other states and doesn’t have reciprocity agreements, active CNAs moving to the state would be good candidates for the challenge. Nurses, emergency personnel and other licensed health care providers may want to add the registry certification to their list of credentials. People who have worked in the field without official certifications also may have enough experience to pass the exam.
Short Cut to a Career
Most community colleges and trade schools that are approved to teach certified nursing assistants offer programs that run six to 10 weeks. Approved North Carolina schools must provide at least 75 hours of classroom and clinical courses. A number of online quick-study programs are available that could prepare you to challenge the test. CNA2day for instance, offers an intensive one-day preparation to challenge the test in North Carolina. Genesis CNA Training clearly states on its homepage that it is not a school and does not offer continuing-education points; it just offers a one-day program, for a fee, to get you through the challenge.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."