Breaking Down Nursing Assistant Training & Testing

Osmosis Team
Published on Dec 2, 2020. Updated on Dec 2, 2020.

Nursing Assistants provide basic care to clients who need assistance because of disability, illness, or age. As a Nursing Assistant, you’ll do incredibly rewarding and important work, serving as an integral part of the healthcare system. Training to become a Nursing Assistant is relatively straightforward: all you’ll need is a few months, some hard work, and dedication! Below, you’ll find a general guide to Nursing Assistant training and testing. 

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Educational requirements

  • Personal qualities

  • Nursing Assistant training

    • In the classroom

    • Clinical practice

  • Certification process to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Educational requirements for Nursing Assistant programs

In order to become a fully certified CNA, you must complete an approved Nursing Assistant program and complete a certification process. Make sure to check your state’s requirements, as they can differ! You don’t necessarily have to have a high school diploma to become a Nursing Assistant; however, each training program has its own requirements for admission, which may include SAT scores or a GED.

Of course, as a Nursing Assistant, you’ll be interfacing with clients throughout the course of your work. Therefore, it’s definitely useful to have experiences that have enabled you to practice your communication and conflict resolution skills, such as:

  • Food service

  • Retail

  • Caregiving

Personal qualities that make great Nursing Assistants

As a Nursing Assistant, you’ll be expected to work with clients and as part of a healthcare team. You’ll provide an essential component of client care, and clients will rely on you. Therefore, it’s important to be:

  • Caring: Vulnerable clients will be entrusted to your care.

  • Patient: Patience will help you calmly navigate day-to-day challenges associated with healthcare.

  • A team player: As a Nursing Assistant, you’ll be part of a healthcare team.

  • Professional: It’s important to establish professional boundaries with both colleagues and clients.

  • A hard worker: Being a Nursing Assistant involves both clinical and written work, which can be demanding!

  • Resilient: As in any healthcare setting, there will be emotional and physical challenges associated with the work.

  • Quick-thinking: Emergencies arise in this line of work; it’s important to be able to think on your feet.

  • Positive: An optimistic attitude makes one a pleasure to work with, and will surely brighten your clients’ days.

Don’t worry if you’re still honing some of these qualities. The more exposure you get to client care and teamwork, the more you can refine your social skills.

Illustration showing essential qualities of a Nursing Assistant.

Nursing Assistant training in the classroom

You’ve enrolled in a Nursing Assistant training program. Great! What can you expect to learn?

In general, you will learn the following in the classroom:

  • Body mechanics, anatomy, and physiology

  • Essentials of client care

  • How to handle emergency situations

  • Effective communication skills

In addition, many Nursing Assistant training programs teach students how to transition from graduate to employee, enabling you to successfully advance your career.

Nursing Assistant training in clinical practice

Of course, every Nursing Assistant-in-training needs hands-on clinical training. In addition to classroom instruction, Nursing Assistant students learn a wide range of clinical skills. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Taking vital signs

  • Infection prevention

  • Maintaining a safe and hygienic environment

  • Bathing and dressing procedures

  • Transferring clients

Regardless of the setting, as a Nursing Assistant,  you will work closely with clients and assist them with their activities of daily living, so these clinical skills are central to the work you’ll be doing. These skills will also be tested on your certification exam, so make sure to pay close attention.

Certification process to become a CNA

Though each state has its own requirements for Nursing Assistant certification, you must pass your state’s Nursing Assistant certification exam. Typically, Nursing Assistant certification exams include a written portion and a clinical skills portion. The written portion will include questions that pertain to client care, while the skills section is a hands-on demonstration of the tasks you’ll be expected to perform as a Nursing Assistant.

Though Nursing Assistant certification exams vary by state, you’ll likely be tested on:

  • Client communication

  • Anatomy and physiology

  • Activities of daily living

  • Client safety

  • Taking and recording vital signs

  • Infection control

  • Data collection and reporting

Make sure to thoroughly prepare!

Illustration showing exam topics for CNA Training and Testing.

Hopefully, your questions have all been answered, and you now have a clear understanding of what Nursing Assistant training entails. Now that you’re armed with this information, you may be eager to take the next step. As a Nursing Assistants, you will be providing valuable care to clients in need. We’re rooting for your success!