Certified nursing assistants are certified for employment in two-year periods. This means that every CNA is required to renew their certification before it expires in order to maintain their employment. States require this for several reasons: it helps keep their records up-to-date, it forces CNAs to maintain a certain level of professionalism, and it helps nursing homes maintain a high level of competency among employees. Depending on the state that you live in, the certification renewal process will vary. But there are a few ways that all nurse aides can prepare for their CNA certification.
First, the most basic requirement for certification renewal is that a nurse aide must have been employed for at least 8 hours over their two-year certification period. Most nursing assistants have this parameter covered within their first day of employment. If you have not worked as a nurse aide when you were eligible to do so, you will be forced to repeat your training and testing from the beginning. If this is the case, consider enrolling in a CNA refresher course, instead of a beginner CNA course. These courses are offered for students that have already learned the basics of the nurse aide profession, but need a reminder, refresher, or review for the competency exam.
The next requirement that may be needed for renewal is continuing education credits. In some states, nursing assistants are required to spend a certain amount of time learning more about their profession and developing new technical skills. For CNAs, the types of classes that will qualify for credit as continuing education relate to healthcare. Nurse aides can enroll in classes on CPR and other emergency medical responding, more complicated healthcare issues like blood-borne pathogens, alternative treatment therapies like Healing Touch, or courses on treatment for special types of patients or conditions. These classes should be taken seriously, as they can be useful for job advancement and increasing your value as a medical professional. In some cases, nurse aides study something that they find particularly interesting and develop a professional specialty. Nurse aides can be employed at the offices of physicians and surgeons, so it may be useful to study a field that is of interest to you.
Once you have met your basic prerequisites for certification renewal, you can submit your application for renewal. All renewals are handled by the state and should be directed through the online nurse aide registry. In some states, it is necessary to mail a physical form for your renewal, along with a renewal fee. In others, renewal can be completed instantly online. It is important to double-check the process in your state, as it can be a large set-back to miss your renewal date. Fortunately, all state boards will provide adequate notice of the date your certification expires and many allow for several weeks after the date as a grace period for forgetful CNAs. These boards will send a letter several weeks in advance of the expiration date, but it is also important to keep track of it for yourself. Many states are removing their grace period policies, making it even more important to be aware of your expiration date.