What Happens After I’m Done With My CNA Training?

You’ve spent the previous six to 12-months studying textbooks and engaging in clinical training to prepare for your new career as a certified nursing assistant. Finally, the day comes where you graduate from your CNA training program and suddenly you’re thrust into the realization that the real work is about to begin. Throughout your training, you’ve been preparing for your state’s CNA examination. While every state features different examination procedures, when training is completed the real challenges begin.

The most popular CNA classes and programs will not only prepare you for the state examination, but also for the real-world job duties you’ll perform as a CNA. However, your career as a CNA hinges on successfully completing your exam. Therefore it is of utmost importance to pay attention during your CNA classes and training, and take detailed notes to study in preparation for your certification test. The guide below will help you prepare for your CNA exam.

Preparation for Examination

After graduation, take some time to enjoy your success. While CNA training isn’t longer in duration, its concentrated learning modules are far from simple to complete. Once you’ve reveled in your greatness for a moment, it’s time to begin preparing for the CNA examination. While every state features different eligibility requirements and exam specifications, the primary qualities of the exam are universal.

The first step in preparing for the exam is to review the Nursing Assistant Candidate Handbook published by your state’s nursing board. This detailed CNA manual explains not only what’s expected of you as a CNA, but also examination topics. Use this handbook as a guide to streamline your study sessions.

After review, gauge your current knowledge base by taking a practice examination. Practice examinations are available through your nursing board as well as through professional third-party sources. Choose a practice examination that follows the current exam style and phrasing. Therefore, only choose a practice exam that’s published within the previous three years.

Upon completion, use your scores to narrow in your study focus on areas of weakness. This is perhaps the most effective method preparing for the CNA examination as it compartmentalizes your CNA knowledge and organizes it for easy recall during the actual exam. If you have questions regarding what practice exam is best, refer to your state’s Candidate Handbook.

Taking the CNA Exam

After registering and paying the examination fees, you will then be slotted for an exam time/date. We recommend showing up at least 30 minutes before your schedule start time, in order to be adequately prepared for the test to come. It is important to eat a health breakfast the morning of your exam, and perhaps even go on a brisk walk beforehand, to clear your mind. Lay off the caffeine, as it can make you jittery and agitated, which will not help your score (a good night’s rest is far more important than your AM coffee). Remember to review the exam requirements regarding permissible items, and plan to spend at least 3-5 hours taking the theoretical and clinical exam portions.

Going Forward

After a few weeks, exam results are mailed to you, or accessible via an online database. If you’ve passed all exam portions with a “Satisfactory” rating then you’re officially a CNA and may register with your state’s Nursing Aide Registry. Unfortunately, not every aspiring CNA passes the examination during their first go-round. If this is the case, then take your time to study sections marked “Unsatisfactory.” Most states allow you to re-take any exam portion up to three times; however, failure to pass within the allotted chances may require you to re-undergo an entire CNA training program before being able to re-test.

Qualities of Exceptional CNA Training Programs

Building the foundation of your healthcare career starts with training quality. Certified nursing assistant training programs are a dime-a-dozen in some cities, which is excellent for aspiring CNAs; however, with a plethora of options comes a myriad of low-quality training programs. When scouring the industry for the best CNA training program, make sure the one you choose features all of the following qualities.

State-Licensed Training Centers

The importance of this characteristic cannot be stressed enough. In order to quality for examination in any state, you must enroll and graduate from a state-licensed training center. Even if the training curriculum is the same from a licensed to non-licensed institution, only the education provided by an accredited center will qualify you for examination. Unsure of where to find an accredited training institution? Contact the nursing board for your state to receive a list of all accredited CNA training institutions. Always begin your school search through this method to avoid wasting time with scam schools.

High-Quality CNA Curriculum

What you learn during this training period will not only determine how successful you are in a CNA position, but also whether or not you pass the certification examination. Every state features different training requirements. While one state only requires 40-hours of training another may require 85-hours of training plus an additional 15-hours of clinical application, for example. Therefore, it’s essential that you only choose a training institution accredited by your state as its curriculum has been approved to prepare students not only with their scope of knowledge, but also meeting required training hours to sit for examination.

Affordable Payment Options for CNA Students

One of the primary reasons so many young professionals are drawn to a career as a certified nursing assistant is its low-cost training. Unlike other medical careers, certified nursing assistants are only required to hold a certificate of completion from an approved training institution. Therefore, the overall cost is much more affordable than traditional college degrees and programs. While the exact cost of a training program varies according to your state, the average cost of training is $1,500. If money is an issue, look for programs that offer flat-rate tuition that can be paid through a payment plan.

Post-Graduation Assistance Online

Upon graduation, you’ll have a sense of relief combined with a renewed sense of anxiety as you must now pass the state certification examination. The best online CNA Certification programs are those that offer post-graduation assistance. This assistance should encompass examination prep, which should include practice examinations and even courses for learning testing skills. Once you’ve become certified, the ideal training institutions offer some form of career placement service. These services tend to your resume and set you up with contacts within the healthcare industry. Choosing a school with the aforementioned characteristics not only ensures a quality education, but also a better chance of standing out among the crowded for-hire lines.

CRNA Schools – Advanced Principles of Anesthesia

Choosing CRNA Schools

In order to successfully complete the CRNA examinations toward receiving your nursing certification, it is imperative that you visit several CRNA schools before making your decision on which institutions to apply to. As a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist understudy, your CRNA school choice is perhaps the most important decision you will make in your nursing career. Consider the prerequisites, interview format, testing and examination process before you finalize your school choice.

Advanced Principles of Anesthesia

It should come as no surprise that as a CRNA, one of the primary elements of the CRNA school license examination will cover a variety of topics related to the actual act of performing anesthesia on patients. In fact, according to the National Certification Examination Handbook for CRNAs, 30 percent of the examination and testing process to become a CRNA nurse will consist of the Advanced Principles of Anesthesia. While you should be well-versed in the topics covered within this portion of the examination, the following topics are considered essential. It’s important to note that not every topic will be discussed within the examination, but you should be prepared to throughout discuss and detail topics within this category.

Surgical Procedures and Procedures Related to Organ Systems

This this portion of the CRNA school examination, there are a total of 12 different procedures based upon specific areas of the body. These include:

  • Intra-Abdominal Systems – Be prepared to discuss a total of 14 different organs and anesthetic procedures for each organ, which include: liver, gall bladders, spleen, stomach, renal, diaphragm , bladder and intestines – among many others.
  • Extrathoracic System – This topic covers mastectomies, plastic and/or reconstructive surgeries and breast biopsies.
  • Extremities – This topic covers the upper and lower extremities, as well as topics, such as total joint replacements and vein stripping.
  • Genital and Urologic Systems – This portion of the examination covers a total seven different topics as it relates to male and female genitals and urologic systems.
  • Head (Skull) – This portion of the exam covers three primary topics, with multiple sub-topics within each one. These include: Extracranial, Oropharyngea and Intracranial.
  • Intrathoracic System – This portion discusses six total proptions of the intrathoracic systems, which include the heart, lung and esophagus (among others).
  • Neck – Be prepared to discuss a total of nine different elements within your neck, which include neck tumors , tracheotomy, cervical spine and the larynx and trachea.
  • Neuroskeletal System – Be prepared to demonstrate your knowledge regarding the five various topics involved within this bodily system.
  • Vascular System – There are a total of nine different topics covered within this general topic. Be prepared to discuss all portions and systems within the vascular system.
  • Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques – Topics within this section cinldue carioversion, CAT scans and venous/arterial techniques.
  • Management of Complications – Be prepared to discuss how you, as a CRNA, will manage complications related to anesthesia and surgical procedures.
  • Various Surgical Procedures – There are a total of 10 various topics in which you’ll be expected to discuss within this generalized category. Examples include: trauma, burns, pacemakers, organ harvesting and laser treatments.


While you may not specialize in pediatrics, you are required by the NBCRNA to effectively understand and demonstrate your knowledge when it comes to treating children patients. There are a total four primary topics, which include:

  • Anatomy, Physiology and Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology for Pediatrics
  • Pediatric Anesthesia Techniques and Procedures
  • Management of Complications for Pediatric Patients


Again, even if you aren’t planning on dealing with obstetrics throughout your CRNA schooling, the examination will likely cover a few topics within this category. Potential topics include:

  • Anatomy, Physiology and Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Anesthesia Techniques for Specific Procedures and Patients
  • Management of Complications


Within this portion of the examination, you should be prepared to discuss a total of four general categories regarding anesthesia for the elderly, these include:

  • Anatomy, Physiology and Pathophysiology of Geriatric Patients
  • Pharmacology Specific for Geriatric Patients
  • Geriatric Anesthesia Techniques and Procedures
  • Management of Complications


With the rise of obese patients seen throughout the United States, as well as with an increase of obesity-related procedures, be prepared to discuss the four primary topics within this category, such as anatomy, pharmacology, anesthesia techniques and management of complications in obese patients.

Can I Work as a Nurse Before Passing the CNA Exam?

Certified nursing assistant careers are some of the most exciting, invigorating and challenging out of all entry-level healthcare professions. Because of this, a variety of aspiring CNAs wishes to engage in work as soon as possible. While nearly every state requires certified nursing assistants to hold state-sponsored certification, it’s possible to work as a CNA before taking the examination; however, you must carefully follow regulations established by your state’s board of nursing.

To outline the journey of a certified nursing assistant, we have summarized how to become a CNA as adapted from ThinkCNAOnline.com. Below are the best practices to implement leading up to your certification testing, licensing, and ultimately employment as a certified nurse.

Work After Graduation Before Exam

Once you’ve graduated from a CNA training program, you may feel you’re ready to tackle this profession. While you may be well-equipped to perform the duties expected of a CNA, in most state’s it’s illegal to work without certification. As with many aspects of life, there are certain exceptions. Depending on your state, it may be possible to work as a nursing aide while you prepare to take the certified nursing assistant examination. While the duties and scope of practice for nursing aides are not as complex or in-depth as CNAs, this may be an excellent way to put some of your theoretical training into practice. Contact your state’s nursing board to determine if you qualify to find work as a nursing aide before the examination.

Work as a Caregiver

Throughout CNA training, you were taught procedures and techniques to effectively care for patients of all ages. While you may not perform certain procedures due to practice limitations without a certificate, you may work in nursing homes and other Care-giving facilities. In general, caregivers work closely with medical staff to provide in-home or facility-bound patients with general hygiene and quality of life care. In a nutshell, caregivers wear many hats. They may work to assist patient finances, legal matters, housekeeping duties and as a correspondent between patients and medical staff.

Hired Before Certification

There are rare circumstances where you’re hired as a CNA before you obtain certification. First off, if this is your case, then congratulations, secondly, check with your nursing board to determine the time frame you have to obtain certification. While this duration can dramatically vary from state-to-state, typically you have four to six-months between the hire date to become certified. Failure to do so may result in fines or job loss. While securing employment before certification is the ideal situation, only pursue such employment if you’re positive you can obtain the necessary training and certification before the due date established by your state.

What Examiners Look for When Taking the CNA Examination

In order to get CNA certification, you must pass the CNA Examination. Much like any other examination, certified nursing assistant exams are complex as they concentrate a wealth of topics and skills into a two-part exam. The first portion of a CNA examination is known as the “written” or “knowledge” exam. This is where you’re tested through multiple-choice and essay questions. Secondly, the clinical examination tests your hand-on skills when dealing with patients and performing standard procedures. The procedure to get a CNA certification license can vary from state to state, as may require different exam questions and units. However, all state examiners look for the same qualities in test-takers, making the overall standards fairly universal. Certified Nursing Assistant students should first review that national standards, and then research their state specific requirements. When transferring to another university in a different state, be sure to understand how your CNA certification coursework will apply. To be successful and the CNA examination, heed the following guidelines:


Nothing aggravates and annoys CNA exam evaluators than a test-taker who shows up unprepared. Did you know your state’s nursing board publishes a free CNA guide to demystify training and examination requirements? The first step in being a prepared exam taker is fully reviewed this candidate handbook several times prior to test day. Within its pages you’ll uncover exam taking specific such as,

1.) When to show up? Typically, you’ll want to arrive at least 30-minutes before the scheduled start time. Failure to do so may result in the inability to sit for the exam.

2.) What Should I Bring? Again, this is determined by your state’s nursing board, but generally test-takers are only allowed to bring three No. 2 pencils, a stopwatch and identification cards.

3.) What Should I Wear? Generally, CNA examinees are required to wear appropriate clothing. While you may not have to wear nursing scrubs, it’s considered good taste to show up wearing clothing you’d be required to wear while employed. This showcases your seriousness to the job at hand. Set yourself apart from other test-takers by not only performing well, but dressing the part.

Skills Examination – What’s Expected

While exam specifics differ from state-to-state, Examiners looks for the following qualities in test takers:

1.) Perfect Hygiene – Even though skill tests vary, all require aspiring CNAs to obtain perfect hygiene. Before starting any task, wash your hands and lower forearm for at least 20-seconds with the provided soap.

2.) Willing to Correct Oneself – Throughout the skill examination, the Examiner reads a scenario and then you must undergo the necessary tasks to satisfy the exam; however, if you know you made a mistake during the task, inform the Examiner you wish to redo the task and explain what you feel you did wrong. Although this may not prevent a negative remark, doing so may prevent failure of a specific task.