Certified Nurse Aide Requirements in Tennessee

Tennessee Certified Nurse Aides (CNAs) must be listed in the state nurse aide registry. They are listed in the registry after they successfully complete training programs and pass both portions of the required examination. In order to remain active on the registry, they need to do some work out in the field. Renewal is on a two-year basis.

Select a Tennessee Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) Topic:

Training and Examination Eligibility

In most cases, prospective CNAs must complete approved nurse aide training programs before attempting the skills and knowledge examinations.

The Department of Health has provided a list of approved training facilities (https://apps.health.tn.gov/nurseaide/natf_criteria.aspx). Prospective students can click on their region of the state to see what is available.

Approved programs are at least 75 hours. Students may begin to have contact with patients after they have completed 16 hours of training; these initial 16 hours are to include concepts such as interpersonal skills and safety and emergency procedures.

Click here to learn about Nurse Aide programs as well as other entry to nursing and health care programs in Tennessee.

Individuals need to take the examination soon after program completion as they are required to pass both tests within two years of program completion.

In some cases, an individual may challenge the examination after completing other healthcare training. Challengers include LPN and RN students and individuals with equivalent military training. Other candidates may be approved on a case-by-case basis. The test vendor notes that approvals may be granted to professionals licensed in other nations.

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The Examination Process

Tennessee contracts with Headmaster/ D & S Diversified Technologies to administer CNA competency examinations. Candidates must take two separate tests and pass both.

The CNA knowledge test is multiple choice and can be taken in English or Spanish. Candidates who have limited reading proficiency may opt for an oral examination. One section of the examination, however, will test English reading comprehension.

The skills test requires the candidate to act out nursing aide scenarios. Each test will measure five of approximately 25 competency skills. Hand washing is always among the tested skills. Other skills are selected randomly. The aide will need to pass all tested skills. This does not mean performing them perfectly. However, the test taker will need to score at least 80% on each and will need to perform all key steps; these steps are marked in bold letters in the candidate handbook.

Test takers will find study resources in the candidate handbook, available from Headmaster (http://www.hdmaster.com/testing/cnatesting/tennessee/TN_CNA_Home.htm). There is also a practice test available online. This candidate handbook is a comprehensive resource that includes test day procedures. Candidates should make sure they have the most current version.

The fee is $30 for the knowledge test and $60 for the skills test. Candidates who are employed in long term care facilities will have their testing fees paid for them. Candidates will select their preferred site and test date; this procedure can be carried out online. A candidate who does not receive confirmation within five working days should call.

Applications are to arrive at least ten business days before the desired test date. Applications may be accepted later, but additional fees will be due.

Candidates are allowed one free reschedule. This must be done at least 24 hours in advance. A candidate who fails to show up for a scheduled examination will, in most cases, be responsible for re-applying and submitting the full fee. Absences can be excused in extreme circumstances if the test taker follows the procedures outlined in the document titled “Application Step-by-Step”. Candidates who show up at the test site without proper identification or appropriate clinical attire will be treated as no-shows.

Test result notification will be sent by mail or email. Candidates who fail either portion of the examination will receive detailed diagnostic information.

The Application Process

The examination and application processes are closely related. Individuals who pass the examination will be automatically added to the nurse aide registry.

Examination applications are available on the Headmaster website (http://www.hdmaster.com/testing/cnatesting/tennessee/TN_CNA_Home.htm). Individuals can also request them by calling 877-201-0758. Students who complete approved CNA programs will submit their applications to the testing vendor.

Individuals who want to challenge the examination, however, will first need approval from the Tennessee Department of Health. The challenge application can also be downloaded from Headmaster. However, candidates will need to mail it to the Department of Health in Nashville and wait for a response before proceeding. They will need to include supporting documentation, which may include college transcripts, military training and experience forms, copies of licenses or certificates, and curriculum documentation. Challenge applicants will also need copies of their social security cards and identification cards.

A candidate who has received a challenge validation letter may then submit the letter to Headmaster, along with the application form and fee.

Successful examination candidates typically receives their certification cards within four to six weeks of testing.

Out-of-State CNAs

CNAs from most U.S. states are eligible for reciprocity. Reciprocity applications can be downloaded from Headmaster. Candidates will identify the state(s) of certification, answer screening questions, and send the form to the Tennessee Department of Health along with copies of identifying documents. The state must verify that the CNA is current and in good status. If registration is current, it will not be necessary to train or test in Tennessee.

There are, however, exceptions. Tennessee does not extend CNA reciprocity to Florida, Georgia, or North Carolina. CNAs from Georgia may challenge the examination, following the same procedures required of other challenge applicants. CNAs from Florida or North Carolina must go through the training process again; they will need to enroll in 75 hour programs.

Additional Information

The Tennessee Nurse Aide Program Office can be reached at (615) 532-5171. Office hours are 8:00 to 4:30 Central Time.

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