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Certified Nursing Assistant Requirements in Washington

Washington nursing assistants are licensed by the Washington Department of Health. Washington recognizes two levels. Nursing Assistant Registered is essentially a training license. An individual who is hired by a Washington nursing home prior to certification must immediately seek the credential. The individual must either be enrolled in a certification-qualifying program or finished with training and waiting to test. Nursing Assistant Certified is the credential an aide earns after all requirements have been met.

Select a Washington Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) Topic:

Training Requirements

An individual will need to complete an approved program. Traditionally, this is a nursing assistant program specifically approved by Washington State. Washington-approved programs are at least 85 hours and include at least 35 hours of classroom education and 50 hours of clinical training (http://app.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=246-841-490). Classroom instruction will include seven hours of AIDS training. At least 40 of the clinical training hours will be in an actual practice setting.

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

There is a list of approved nursing assistant programs on the site of the Washington Department of Health and Human Services (https://fortress.wa.gov/dshs/adsaapps/Professional/nat/search.aspx). Prospective students can search by program type (for example, high school or job corps).

There are approved alternate pathways for healthcare workers and students. A student nurse or graduate nurse can be approved to test based on equivalent training.

A military nursing assistant can also be approved for examination after completion of the U.S. Air Force Apprentice (Specialist) Program, Army 91-C Program, or Navy Basic Hospital Corps School.

Individuals who completing nursing assistant programs or nursing coursework out-of-state may test in Washington. They will need to provide evidence of having had the required 35 hours of classroom instruction and 30 hours of clinical training.

A home care aide or medical assistant can be approved based on a bridging program. A medical assistant is eligible for certification based on an alternate/ bridging program if the original program was accredited by the Commission on Accreditation and Allied Health Education Programs or the American Association of Medical Assistants and American Medical Association.

Candidates will need to complete a cardiopulmonary resuscitation course.

The Examination Process

Washington State nursing assistants must pass both portions of the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP). One is multiple choice. It may be taken in written or oral form. The oral examination does, however, include a short reading comprehension section; a candidate must pass both portions.

The other evaluation requires the candidate to carry out actual nursing assistant duties. One task is always a demonstration of proper hand washing technique. The other skills will vary from test to test, but one always involves taking and recoding some type of measurement. Test takers must now pass all five skills to pass the evaluation. Candidates can find basic preparatory materials in the candidate handbook, including a list of steps for all tasks that may be assessed. A written practice examination is also available on the ‘Washington Nurse Aides’ page of the Pearson VUE website.

Some candidates will be scheduled to test at their own facilities. Those who are not will select regional testing sites from the list provided by Pearson VUE. They will also indicate whether they would be willing to go to another site to get a sooner test date. NACES typically mails out an Authorization to Test, or ATT, two business days after receiving a candidate's application materials. Candidates with questions about the examination application process are invited to contact NACES.

Examination applications are available on the Pearson site (http://www.pearsonvue.com/wa/nurseaides/). In many cases, a copy of a training certificate will provide evidence of qualification. Individuals who completed nursing programs, military programs, or out-of-state programs will need to get authorization before applying for examination. Fees must be submitted with the application. Initially the candidate (or the sponsoring nursing facility) will pay $110 for the full examination. Applications are submitted to the NACES Plus Foundation.

Test takers generally receive their results the day of the examination. A candidate who needs to retest will pay $74 for the skills evaluation and/ or $36 for the written or oral examination.

Three examination attempts are allowed. A candidate who completes a state-approved program after January 1, 2012 must pass both of the examination within one year of program completion. Individuals who are carrying out nursing assistant duties in an employment context have a shorter time frame. Failure to meet all certification requirements in 120 days will result in loss of work eligibility.

The Application Process

Individuals who are employed as nursing assistants before completing certification requirements will apply first at the registered nursing assistant level. Applications are available on the Department of Health website (http://www.doh.wa.gov/LicensesPermitsandCertificates/NursingAssistant/ApplicationsandForms). Registration applications can also be submitted online.

At this level, an applicant will answer personal data or screening questions about such things as health, legal, and disciplinary history. Candidate who answer ‘yes’ to these questions will need to provide supporting documentation. The certification agency carries out background checks utilizing a database. Some candidates are asked to complete fingerprint-based background checks; this is likely to occur if the candidate is coming from out of state.

An applicant for Nursing Assistant Registered will attest to having had AIDS training. There are a number of options, including self-study. The certification agency has provided a link to state standards (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=246-12-270).

Documentation of training/ examination is required at the certified nursing assistant stage.

Military nursing assistants will include educational documentation such as transcripts and certifications. They will need to provide evidence of having had CPR.

Medical assistants and home health aides will need to provide the Department of Health/ Nursing Assistant Credentialing with documentation of having completed an acceptable alternative program. Home health aides will also need to include evidence of current certification. Medical assistants will need to include transcripts from their medical assistance program.

Military spouses and domestic partners may be eligible for expedited processing.

Out-of-State CNAs

Out-of-state nursing assistants who hold current active certification may be endorsed into Washington. They must provide certification verification.

Medication Assistant Endorsement Medication assistant is an additional endorsement that an individual can earn after achieving nursing assistant certification (http://app.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=246-841-588). The nursing assistant will need to complete a medication assistant program and pass an additional competency evaluation.

Additional Information

The Washington State Department of Health Nursing Assistant Program (http://www.doh.wa.gov/LicensesPermitsandCertificates/ProfessionsNewReneworUpdate/NursingAssistant) can be reached by email at ‘hsqa.csc at doh.wa.gov’ or by telephone at 360-236-4700.

The Washington Nurse Aide Competency Evaluation Service (NACES) can be reached at (800) 842-4562.

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