Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) are responsible for important tasks related to the personal hygiene and daily activities of patients under their care. They also have to position and move patients, take vital signs, ensure a clean and safe environment, and keep track of their patient’s overall health and well-being. The CNA certification Massachusetts provides does vary slightly from other states which is what we will review in this article.

Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is a valuable career choice as CNAs are crucial in providing care to elderly or disabled patients. In the expanding healthcare field, the ability to offer responsible and compassionate assistance to incapacitated individuals is a highly sought-after skill.

Where do CNAs work?

CNAs can find employment in nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, or as home health aides, working directly with patients under the supervision of Registered Nurses or Licensed Nurse Practitioners. Individuals who enjoy working with people in need, want to positively impact their lives, and desire a fulfilling and long-lasting career can consider becoming CNAs.

CNA Requirements in Massachusetts

To become a CNA in Massachusetts, individuals must complete a state-approved training program and pass a certification exam. These programs can be found at community colleges, technical schools, nursing homes, and medical facilities. Program lengths range from 4 to 12 weeks and include classroom instruction and clinical practice under the supervision of an LPN or RN. These programs’ costs vary but generally include tuition, lab fees, textbooks, uniforms, certification exam fees, and background checks. The Department of Public Health manages the Nurse Aide Registry Program in Massachusetts. This program is responsible for reviewing and granting approval for CNA training programs and keeping a record of licensed nurse aides. Some programs offer a hybrid format with online classroom instruction and in-person clinical practice.

Qualifications for Training and Examination

To be eligible for the CNA examination, individuals must complete state-approved programs. The most direct path is to finish a nurse aide training program, which the Massachusetts Department of Health must approve. However, other ways exist to become eligible for the examination, which applies to those with work experience as healthcare aides. For example, individuals trained as home health aides within the last five years can apply.

Additionally, those who completed a 100-hour program before July 1, 1989, or were employed in Massachusetts nursing homes on December 19, 1989, for at least two years and can document their position may also apply. Graduates who have completed 75 hours of clinical training may be eligible for the CNA examination if their school allows them to take national board exams in Massachusetts. The Red Cross suggests that individuals who recently graduated from nursing school have higher chances of passing the examination.

Examination Procedure

In Massachusetts, CNAs take the Nurse Aide Competency Evaluation (NACE) administered by the American Red Cross (ARC). The test consists of a multiple-choice knowledge test and a skills test, where candidates must bring an actor to act as a patient. Candidates can choose to take an oral examination if they prefer. The test fee is $93, or $103 for the oral version. Candidates can test at their facilities or one of the eleven Massachusetts Red Cross sites. Results are available three weeks after the test, and candidates can make up to four attempts at the knowledge test and up to three attempts at the skills test. The retest fee ranges from $46 to $93, depending on the test.

Application Procedure

Candidates apply for the nurse aide competency evaluation (NACE) and the nurse aide registry at the same time. They can download the application from the American Red Cross website. Candidates who completed a CNA program must submit their training certificates or a letter confirming completion. Nursing school students can include a letter from the school or official transcripts and a course description to confirm their 75 hours of clinical training.

Candidates employed in a Massachusetts nursing home on December 19, 1989, need to submit a letter from the facility. Some candidates must submit eligibility applications to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The eligibility applications can also be downloaded from the American Red Cross. Candidates must mail the eligibility application to the Division of Health Care Quality in Boston. If approved, they can apply to the American Red Cross for testing. The examination application and supporting documents will be mailed to the American Red Cross Testing Office in Peabody.

CNA Certification Process in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has established rules for becoming a certified nurse assistant (CNA) through the Nurse Aide Registry Program. To become a CNA in Massachusetts, you must complete an approved educational program and pass a two-part certification exam administered by the American Red Cross.

Getting your CNA certification in Massachusetts is a straightforward process. You must pass both parts of the nurse aide evaluation exam, and your name will be added to the state’s Nurse Aide Registry within three weeks. Apart from the testing application and fees, no additional applications or fees are required.

To confirm your CNA certification in Massachusetts, you can utilize the license verification website at https://checkalicense.hhs.state.ma.us/MyLicenseVerification/. It is crucial to remember that if you have recently taken the competency exam, you should wait for at least three weeks to receive your test results and for your name to be included in the registry.

CNA Certification Renewal in Massachusetts

To renew your CNA certification in Massachusetts, you must complete 8 hours of in-service training and provide proof of qualifying employment within 2 years of your last certification. Your employer must complete a form and send it to the American Red Cross Testing Office a month before your listing expires. Your new certificate’s expiration date will be based on the date of the last logged CNA work hours. It is important to start the renewal process 3 months before your license expires to avoid the expiration of your license. If you are out-of-state and already a CNA, you can apply for reciprocity and CNA recertification in Massachusetts. All nurse aides and candidates must register in the Massachusetts Nurse Aide Registry, which requires an active license and graduation from an accredited program. Failure to renew may result in ineligibility for employment and the need for re-training and re-testing.

Transferring Your CNA Certification to Another State

You must learn about that state’s transfer requirements to move your CNA certification from Massachusetts to another state. You can use the CNA Regulatory Agencies search tool on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website to find the regulatory agency in your new state. Then, you should contact the agency to inquire about their specific requirements for transferring your certification.

Career Advancement

CNAs have several opportunities for career advancement in the medical field. They work alongside LPNs and RNs, allowing them to see firsthand what it takes to advance to the next level. A CNA can become an LPN by completing a bridge course, which can be done online or on-campus at a community college or vocational training school. The training typically lasts 6-24 weeks and includes 75 hours of instruction. Many CNAs can use their work hours towards this training. There are many opportunities for CNA job advancement in Massachusetts, with thousands of new job openings each year. Joining a professional association like the Massachusetts Nurses Association can also provide resources and support for career advancement.

Top schools providing CNA programs in Massachusetts

According to our research, the following schools offer CNA programs in Massachusetts:

1.   Bunker Hill Community College

Bunker Hill Community College, established in 1973, is a two-year post-secondary institution with multiple Greater Boston Metropolitan area campuses. It is the biggest community college in Massachusetts, with two campuses and three satellite locations. One of its campuses in Chelsea offers a certificate program that enables graduates to take the Nurse Aide and Home Health Aide exams.

Website: https://www.bhcc.edu/alliedhealth/certifiednurseassistant/

2.   Middlesex Community College

Middlesex Community College is a two-year post-secondary institution with two campuses, one in Lowell and the other in Bedford. The nursing assistant certificate program is offered through the Academy of Health Professions at the Health, Science, and Technology Center in Lowell. This 19-credit program is designed to prepare students for entry-level employment and covers topics such as medical terminology and the use of computers in medical offices.

Website: https://www.middlesex.mass.edu/careertraining/nahhc.aspx

3.   Massachusetts Bay Community College

MBCC’s CNA program is an eight-week training course that prepares students for the Nurse Aide Competency Exam (NACE). The program consists of 120 hours of training, 80 hours of classroom lectures and on-campus laboratory skills training, and 40 hours of clinical instruction at a long-term care facility.

Website: https://www.massbay.edu/academics/health-sciences/

4.   Quinsigamond Community College

QCC offers a 15-week CNA program consisting of two courses at the Healthcare and Workforce Development Center in downtown Worcester and the QCC Southbridge campus. Students are required to travel to various campuses within Worcester County for the program. Additionally, 50% of the program can be completed online.

Website: https://www.qcc.edu/academics/healthcare/nursing-assistant-certificate

5.   North Shore Community College

The CNA training program at NSCC provides dual certification as a Nurse Assistant and Home Health Aide simultaneously and requires 115 hours of training. The training is split into 21 hours of clinical instruction at a healthcare facility and 94 hours of in-class lectures. During clinical instruction, CNA candidates must measure vital signs, provide restorative care, and keep accurate records.

Website: https://www.northshore.edu/