Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are one integral part of an efficient health care facility. While nurses and doctors handle diagnoses and medically focused patient care, CNAs are responsible for the behind-the-scenes tasks that support patients and the entire team.
CNA responsibilities include moving and feeding patients, giving baths, documenting patient dietary habits, activities of daily living (ADLs), checking vital signs, end-of-life care and answering patient calls. They work under the direct supervision of either a licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN) or both. Many CNAs are assigned additional tasks based on specific facility needs.
CNAs can find rewarding work in all types of facilities across the industry, including rehabilitation centers, hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Your role as a CNA can be the first step in your journey toward a higher position or a fulfilling career providing hands-on patient care.
Here’s how to get your CNA license in Connecticut.
Select the Right Route
CNA requirements in Connecticut vary depending on previous experience. Interested candidates can secure a CNA position through one of the following routes:
- Completed training and exam within the past two years: If you’ve successfully completed a valid 100-hour CNA program in Connecticut within the past two years and have passed the subsequent exam, you can apply to be placed directly on the Nurse Aid Registry (NAR).
- New nurse aide candidate: If you’re a new student or an individual who has previously completed a state-approved CNA program within the past two years but has yet to take an exam, you must take and pass the official CNA exam to get placed on the NAR.
- Current or student nurse: RN or LPN students currently enrolled in an approved program — or those who have been enrolled within the past two years — can take the CNA exam and get placed on the NAR once they have completed at least 100 clinical and classroom hours. This is a great option for getting hands-on experience while studying for your formal nursing degree, and it may give you better insight into how health care facilities operate.
- Out-of-state nurse aide and reciprocity: Individuals with a state-approved out-of-state CNA license within the past two years can pursue a CNA position in Connecticut as long as their former education included at least 100 hours of training. You may need to take a special out-of-state CNA exam. Some individuals may be eligible for reciprocity without testing if their out-of-state certification is still in good standing. Eligible candidates should submit a copy of their certificate or state-official letter with the certification’s issue and expiration dates and confirmation of legitimacy to the NAR.
- Lapsed nurse aide: Individuals in Connecticut who once held a valid in-state CNA certification but have not renewed it within the appropriate time frame must retake and pass the current CNA exam if they want to be relisted on the NAR.
Find and Select a State-Approved CNA Training Program
Connecticut requires all CNAs to successfully complete at least 100 hours of practical and classroom training. CNAs achieve these hours in a program facilitated by an RN with a minimum of two years experience, including one year of experience in a licensed nursing or convalescent home. CNA education will cover all necessary skills required by state and federal guidelines, including various theories and competency skills. You must finish at least 16 hours of training in the following areas before working directly with patients or residents:
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Resident rights
- Resident independence
- Safety and emergency procedures
- Infection control and personal protective equipment (PPE) use
Some programs or facilities may have additional requirements.
Choosing the Right CNA Program
CNA training is available at traditional educational facilities and in some medical centers, like nursing homes, which may sponsor CNA education for eligible applicants. All CNA programs must be approved by the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
You should also consider:
- Program accreditation: If the school isn’t properly accredited, the state of Connecticut cannot legally recognise it to facilitate your CNA examination.
- Student experience: Talk to current and former students or read program reviews to get a better idea of what a CNA program can offer you. Some facilities have student life perks, like on-campus amenities or flexible class scheduling.
- Learning format: While many of today’s education and career training programs take place online, health care remains one field where some level of hands-on learning is vital. If you’re looking for the payment or schedule flexibility of an online classroom format, consider a program with hybrid learning options. Hybrid programs offer some classes — like theory-based learning — online, while keeping in-person training for necessary courses.
- Class flexibility: Make sure you can fit your CNA training into your existing responsibilities. Some programs work around common day job hours, offering night classes and alternate attendance options.
- Financing options: Talk to your program facilitator to explore financing options. Depending on the program, you might be eligible for financial aid, payment plans or scholarships.
- Unique offerings: Some CNA programs may offer unique incentives, like a specially trained program advisor, immediate job placement or similar.
Meet CNA Prerequisites and Complete Training
CNA training takes weeks or months to complete, depending on your specific program, course pace and career goals. Learning will include everything you need to know to care for patients at the CNA level, including:
- An overview of the human body
- Basic Life Support Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (BLS CPR)
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance
- Delivering personal care at all stages of a patients’ stay
Your 100 hours of combined classroom and hands-on training include practical hours, sometimes called “clinicals.” Clinicals are in-person lessons for skills like patient bathing and vital signs, which can’t be learned in the classroom alone. Students often practice on one another under instructor guidance before moving on to a formal patient setting.
Clinicals must take place in a licensed chronic and convalescent nursing home with an approved nurse supervisor.
Anyone wishing to complete CNA training should be prepared for demanding work. CNAs are the backbone of a successful health care facility and require motivated, compassionate individuals able to communicate with the rest of the team professionally and with the patients’ best interest in mind.
Take the Competency Exam and Get Certified
Once you’ve completed your 100 hours of approved CNA training, it’s time to register for the two-part Nurse Aide Competency Exam. The exam will gauge your ability to promote patient health and care, complete expected CNA tasks, deliver basic nursing care, promote a safe environment and offer specific care for patients with changing health. Practice CNA competency tests are available online.
Part one of the test is an assessment of your skills. You’ll work with fake “residents“ or “patients“ and carry out the required CNA functions to deliver appropriate care. You won’t know which skills you will be tested on, so be sure to study all responsibilities thoroughly.
The second part of the exam is a multiple-choice test delivered via computer at an on-site facility or regional testing city. You may request a written or oral test format if necessary.
Test takers typically receive their results upon exam completion. Should you fail one portion of the exam and pass the other, you can schedule a time to retake the failed section only without retaking the passed part. Once you pass both parts of the exam, your name will be added to the Connecticut NAR, sometimes called the Connecticut CNA Registry, and your certificate will be mailed to you.
Get Quality Nurse Assistant Training in Stratford, Connecticut
The CNA program at AIHT Education – School of Healthcare Career is a six- to eight-week program to give you the training you need to pass your CNA exam and become a CNA in the state of Connecticut. We’re rated among the best CNA training programs in CT. Learn more about the CNA program at AIHT Education and schedule an appointment with an enrollment advisor to get started!