Certified Nurse Aide Requirements in Virginia

Virginia CNAs are certified by the Board of Nursing. The Virginia Board of Nursing offers both a standard Certified Nurse Aide credential and an advanced credential. The basic CNA credential is earned after an individual meets training and examination requirements. The advanced credential requires experience as well as additional training.

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Training and Examination Eligibility

CNAs must complete state-approved programs. Candidates are allowed to test on the basis of programs that were approved by the Virginia Board of Nursing in 1982 or later. The Board has provided a document with contact information for approved programs (http://www.dhp.virginia.gov/nursing/nursing_edprogs.htm). Programs are housed in a variety of institutions from high schools to nursing homes. A nurse aide may perform CNA duties in a nursing home prior to certification only if he or she is enrolled at a program in the nursing home.

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Nursing students and nursing graduates are both eligible to test at the CNA level. The testing vendor notes that LPN and RN students will need to have completed at least one clinical course with a minimum of 40 client care hours.

The Examination Process

Virginia CNAs take the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP), administered by Pearson Vue and the NACES Plus Foundation. The NNAAP includes a practical skills component and a written or oral component. Both are administered the same day. The skills examination requires the candidate to carry out five nursing assistant duties. One task always requires taking and recording a measurement such as weight, respiration or blood pressure.

The written examination includes 70 multiple choice questions; ten of the questions do not count toward the score, but the candidate will not know which these are. The oral examination includes 60 oral knowledge questions and ten questions that require basic reading comprehension/ vocabulary recognition. Candidates who opt for the oral examination receive a cassette tape and earphones as well as access to the written test. The candidate handbook, available from Pearson VUE, includes sample knowledge questions, reading assessment questions, and skills listings; it also includes details about test procedures and policies (http://www.pearsonvue.com/va/nurseaides/).

Pearson VUE has also provided a list of upcoming examination deadlines. The candidate is to enter the code of the preferred test site on the examination application. (http://asisvcs.com/publications/pdf/075303.pdf). An approved examination candidate will receive a yellow confirmation postcard soon after.

Rescheduling is to be done at least five days in advance (so as not to incur additional fees). Absences can be excused for circumstances such as illness, disabling car accident or court appearance, provided that the test taker follows the protocol found in the candidate handbook.

Examination results are generally available shortly after testing. A candidate who fails one or both evaluations will receive re-examination information.

The cost of the full evaluation is $94. Skills retakes are $69. Written or oral retakes are $25.

Candidate must pass both the skills and knowledge evaluations within a two year period. The state of Virginia does not place limits on how many times a candidate takes the evaluation during a two year period.

Individuals who are currently employed in nursing homes must pass both evaluations within a shorter time frame in order to retain employment eligibility.

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The Application Process

For initial examination candidates, the examination application process and certification application process are the same. Some students will receive application forms from their training programs. Those that need them may call NACES or download materials from the Pearson VUE website (http://www.pearsonvue.com/va/nurseaides/).

Graduates of Virginia-approved nurse aide programs will need certificates of completion or documentation from the program director written on official letterhead.

Nursing students will need to submit letters on school letterhead, documenting current enrollment and completion of minimum coursework. Nursing graduates will need transcripts; they may be originals or certified true copies. Transcripts that are not in English must be translated.

The application includes screening questions about legal and disciplinary history as well as conditions that could impair practice. Candidates that answer ‘yes’ to screening questions will need to submit additional documentation to the Board of Nursing. Documentation may include certified copies of court records or regulatory actions, letters from treatment providers, and letters of explanation that candidates write for themselves. The Board will need to approve such candidates for certification by examination; there may be some delay in the process.

Examination application materials are to be submitted to the NACES Plus Foundation in Austin, Texas.

The testing vendor will submit the names of candidates who successfully complete the NNAAP. Pearson VUE notes, however, that individuals cannot call themselves Certified Nursing Assistants until they actually appear on the registry (even if they have been notified of their passing test results).

License verification can be carried out online at www.dhp.virginia.gov.

Out-of-State CNAs

A current CNA who met similar requirements in another jurisdiction may be approved for certification by endorsement; if approved, no further examination will be required. The Board of Nursing will determine whether examination will be required.

Endorsement applicants may fil out their applications online or call (804) 367-4569 for materials.

Reinstatement for Former CNAs

A nurse aide whose certification has been expired for more than 90 days will need to apply for reinstatement. If the aide cannot document work experience from the prior two years, he or she will be required to retest. Reinstatement applications are available on the website of the Board of Nursing (http://www.dhp.virginia.gov/nursing/nursing_forms.htm#CNA).

Advanced CNA Status

In order to become an Advanced Certified Nurse Aide, a CNA must have at least three years of certification history as well as a recommendation from a nurse; the recommending nurse must have provided at least six months of recent supervision. Additionally, the CNA will need at least 120 hours of advanced training; the training program must include a competency evaluation (http://www.dhp.virginia.gov/nursing/nursing_laws_regs.htm). A list of advanced nurse aide programs is found at the end of the Board of Nursing approved programs document.

The application for advanced certification cost $25.

Additional Information

The Virginia Board of Nursing (www.dhp.virginia.gov/nursing) can be reached at (804) 367-4569. Office hours are 8:15 to 5:00.

Pearson VUE can be reached at (888) 204-6183.

The NACES Plus Foundation can be reached at (800) 758-6028.

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