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Certified Nurse Aide Requirements in the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia's Certified Nurse Aides are under the jurisdiction of the Board of Nursing. Prospective CNAs must complete training programs and pass skills and knowledge examinations. In order to be hired as nurse aides, they must clear criminal background checks.

The licensing agency contracts with Pearson VUE for some certification-related services.

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Training Requirements

First-time nurse aides must complete approved CNA programs unless they have had nursing education. Qualifying programs are those that are approved by the DC Department of Long Term Care. A list of approved programs is found on the Department of Health website (http://doh.dc.gov/node/149322).

A prospective CNA can only be approved to take the examination if the nurse aide program was completed in the prior 24 months. CNAs who allow their certification to lapse for more than 24 months will be required to complete another approved training program.

Individuals may become certified as CNAs after completing equivalent training as part of a nursing program; The Board will accept an RN fundamentals of nursing class or equivalent LPN training.

Click Here to see Nurse Aide and other entry to nursing/health care programs in DC.

Internationally educated nurses can also be approved to test as CNAs in the District of Columbia.

The Examination Process

DC nurse aides take the National Nursing Assistant Assessment Program (NNAAP) Examination. It is required of new CNAs and also of former CNAs who have allowed their certifications to lapse.

Candidates must take and pass two separate tests. The skills examination involves actually carrying out nurse aide duties; it is available only in English. The knowledge examination is available as a written test in English, an oral test in English, or an oral test in Spanish. The oral examination includes ten reading comprehension questions. The decision must be made beforehand; a candidate who wants to take the oral exam must note it in the registration form.

The NNAAP is administered by Pearson VUE. In DC, it is scheduled through the Red Cross. Applicants can find a list of upcoming test dates (as well as other certification resources) on the ‘District of Columbia Nurse Aides and Home Health Aides’ page of the Pearson website (http://www.asisvcs.com/indhome_fs.asp?cpcat=0709nurse).

The Red Cross generally sends an examination admission letter two to five days after an application has been received. Candidates are advised to call the Red Cross if they have not received correspondence in ten business days.

In most cases, rescheduling must be done at least three business days in advance of the examination or fees cannot be transferred. In extreme circumstances (for example, an illness or a death in the family), the test taker may request that an absence be excused.

Answer sheets and skills evaluations are faxed for scoring; test takers usually receive their score reports the day that they test.

Test takers are allowed up to three attempts at the examination. An individual who fails either the skills or knowledge examination three times will be required to retrain.

A practice examination can be downloaded from the Pearson site. The candidate handbook includes skills listings and sample multiple choice questions.

The Application Process

All examination applicants must demonstrate that they qualify to take the test; supporting documentation will depend on eligibility pathway.

Newly trained nurse aides will include copies of their training certificates.

Individuals with nursing education will include copies of their nursing school transcripts.

Individuals who have been licensed as nurses in DC will include copies of their DC licenses.

International nurses will include copies of their foreign credentials.

Former nurse aides with lapsed certification will include copies of their expired certificates. Those whose certificates expired more than 24 months in the past will also include new training certificates.

Applications can be downloaded from the Department of Health (http://doh.dc.gov/node/149322) or Pearson (http://www.asisvcs.com/indhome_fs.asp?cpcat=0709nurse). They are also available from the Red Cross.

Examination applications are submitted to the Red Cross at the address listed in the application. Supporting documentation should be included in the same envelope as the completed form.

Out-of-State CNAs

A CNA who is currently credentialed in another state may be endorsed into the District of Columbia. DC will accept the NACEPS and ETS examinations as well as the examination administered by Pearson VUE. A CNA who has not taken one of the three accepted examinations must be certified by examination.

A candidate for endorsement without examination will include a copy of his or her credential as well as a copy of a social security card and a photo ID. The application will be mailed to Pearson VUE.

CNA fees to expect

An examination candidate will pay examination fees plus a $12 registry placement fee; The total comes to $117 (or $127 oral for those who opt for oral examination).

A test taker who needs to retake both portions will pay $105 for the skills/ written combination or $115 for the skills/ oral combination. A candidate who retakes only one will pay $40 for written, $50 for oral, or $65 for skills.

In cases where the testing fee is paid by an employer, the name of the test taker must appear on the check.

A CNA who is applying for endorsement without examination will pay $15.

Additional Information

Information about Certified Nurse Aide licensing can be found on the Department of Health website (http://doh.dc.gov/node/149322) Individuals with questions can call (877) 672-2174.

The Red Cross Competency Evaluation Program can be reached at (888) 399-7729.

Pearson VUE can be reached at (888) 274-6060.

The candidate handbook is a comprehensive resource that includes contact information for all three organizations and lets applicants know which one to contact as situations arise. The handbook can be downloaded from Pearson or from the Department of Health.

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