It’s a known fact that the medical sector is ever-growing as the population booms and ages. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that one of the most in-demand jobs is for CNAs, or certified nursing assistants.
Certified nursing assistants are responsible for caring for patients’ particular and pressing needs, such as hygiene, day-to-day activities, checking vitals, and so forth.
Since this is such a demanding job, there are particular training, state law, and regulations that one must follow and understand in order to become trained in Massachusetts.
Why become a CNA in Massachusetts?
Taking up the career as a CNA in Massachusetts is quite prominent as the training programs are often shorter when compared to other regions like Florida. Also, the licensing procedures are not as rigid as presumed.
Moreover, a recent survey shows that CNA jobs are projected to grow by 11% by 2026 in Massachusetts. With this growing demand, Boston shall serve as a hub for growing healthcare facilities that can offer vast opportunities for CNAs in the coming years.
Job Scope and Responsibilities
Before deciding on a career of becoming a CNA, it’s important to understand the role and responsibilities of this particular job.
The most common duties and responsibilities include:
- Assisting patients with personal care, such as bathing, dressing, feeding, and other hygiene-related tasks.
- Measuring patients’ vital signs.
- Setting up medical equipment for various procedures.
- Transporting patients as needed, which can include physically lifting patients.
- Answering patients’ calls and communicating with both the patient and his/her family.
- Reporting to senior staff if any issues or problems arise.
- Basically, you can refer to the certified nursing assistant as the point of contact for the patient, who is right there with the patient as he or she goes through their daily activities.
Eligibility to work as a CNA in Massachusetts
- Minimum of 18 years of age
- No history of criminal records (Background check is essential)
- Clear the State Exam (NACE evaluation)
- Must have graduated from a CNA School in Massachusetts
- After clearing the exam, the candidate should have been added in the Certified Nurse Aide Registry
Cost of Training, Certification and Training Curriculum
There are many programs to choose from and various pathways to become a CNA, but you need to know what you should look for before signing up for any program. First of all, any Massachusetts program must be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Health.
You need to understand that the most direct path to becoming a CNA is to complete an accredited nurse aide training program.
In some programs, after about 8 weeks of nursing assistant training, you should be prepared to take the required Nurse Aide Competency Evaluation or NACE. This gets you into the entry-level field of nursing assistants.
The actual curriculum consists of lecture and lab hours on campus and clinical hours at a long-term care facility.
The curriculum will teach you how to successfully perform the routine duties of a CNA, while also preparing the student for a diverse and ever-changing population. You will receive basic skills training, such as checking and monitoring vitals and a broad overview of how to deal with patients’ needs and requirements.
In addition, you will get a full and thorough understanding of what a nursing assistant entails, as well as information on understanding and relating to the elderly, best practices, working in a variety of facilities, work ethics, food service protocol, safety measures, and much more.
For individuals who have completed 100 hours of training before July 1, 1989, they are eligible to take the state test. There’s also an alternative pathway for those who were employed in a Massachusetts nursing home on December 19, 1989, provided they can supply proper documentation that they were employed in the same position for a minimum of 2 years prior to that date.
There’s also a route for individuals who have successfully completed at least 75 hours of clinical training in nursing school. They are also eligible to become a certified nursing assistant. It is mandatory in Massachusetts for an individual to undergo at least 75 hours of training to appear for the Nurse Aide Certification Evaluation (NACE).
However, it is shown that those who have received the most recent training available tend to do the best on the exam.
The test is $93 for both sections and $103 if the oral version is requested.
State-Approved CNA Schools in Massachusetts
Here is a list of a few of the top-rated Nurse Aide Schools in MA for reference:
- Bunker Hill Community College
- Medical Professional Institute
- Middlesex Community College
- North Shore Community College
Prospective CNAs apply for the examination and placement on the nurse aide registry at the same time. Applications can be downloaded from the American Cross Website. Students who have attended an accredited program must provide copies of training certificates or a letter on official letterhead. Alternatively, other applicants can provide documentation from their place of employment.
Before embarking on a path to become a certified nursing assistant, it’s prudent that you understand that this isn’t a job for everybody. It can be demanding, stressful, and at times, it can seem thankless.
Besides training and being on the registry, this job is suited for a particular type of person. Make sure that you love helping and serving others and can put their needs first. Despite the cons, this can be an extremely awarding and enjoyable career for the right person.
Free CNA training classes
There exist some of the authorized facilities that offer free CNA training classes.
Listing a few of them,
- Colony Center for Health & Rehabilitation – Abington
- Eastpointe Rehabilitation & Skilled Care Cente – Chelsea
- Westover Job Corps Center – Chicopee
- Don Orione Home – Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation – East Boston
- North Shore Community College – Lynn
- Alliance Health at Abbott – Lynn
- Hannah B. G. Shaw Home – Middleboro
- University of Massachusetts – Plymouth
- Westborough Healthcare Center – Westborough
Some facilities are found in cities like Agawam, Belmont, Devens, Fall River, North Grafton, Provincetown, Roxbury, and Gloucester.
No matter which path you choose, you have to pass the NACE exam in order to become a certified nursing assistant.
It’s administered by the American Red Cross and consists of two components.
- The skills section involves various scenarios where the student must act as a CNA and demonstrate his or her knowledge by providing appropriate and complete care. The test-taker must bring in an actor to act as a patient, but it can’t be a person who’s going to take the NACE exam any time in the near future.
- The knowledge part of the exam is multiple choice types where the test-taker has the option of selecting an oral exam and listening to the exam on CD.
Waiver options are available for specific applicants who meet the required qualifications listed at 105 CMR 156.100. The American Red Cross website provides the application to apply for a Nurse Aide Training Waiver for individuals to attend the Massachusetts Nurse Aide Competency Evaluation.
Important points with respect to CNA evaluation and certification:
- Rescheduling of the evaluation is possible if a candidate fails to appear on the specified test date. The candidate is supposed to send a letter requesting the rescheduling of the evaluation. In this scenario, the candidate doesn’t have to pay the full evaluation fee. The American Red Cross will charge from $20 – $40 depending on the test type (individual test or complete evaluation).
- A candidate who fails to appear for the evaluation up to a year has no other choice other than submitting a new application and will have to pay the required full evaluation fee.
- The candidates can attempt up to 4 times for the knowledge test and up to 3 times for the skills test.
- A candidate failing to clear both sections (both tests) will have to pay $93 for reappearing.
- A candidate who fails only the clinical test will have to pay $46.
- A candidate who fails only the written test will have to pay $47.
Evaluation results & Certification
Test results are sent out approximately three weeks later. Once the applicant clears the evaluation, his/her name will be added to the Massachusetts Nurse Aide Registry within three to five days in general.
Special Cases (Transfer or Reciprocity)
Case 1: (Reciprocity)
When an individual gets certified in a state other than Massachusetts and is currently active, the individual need not get another training or examination in Massachusetts. Instead, he/she has to complete the certificate verification process in association with the out-of-state registries.
When an individual has completed the CNA program in a state other than Massachusetts and is currently not active, then the individual must complete all the eligible application procedures and then apply for the evaluation to get certified as a CNA in Massachusetts.
Case 3: (Transfer)
When an individual wants to get transferred from Massachusetts to another state, then the individual has to depend on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website. The CNA Regulatory Agencies search tool on the website shall help the individual find out the transferring state’s respective agencies. Once identifying the agency, the individual can contact directly and get the transfer process initiated.