CNA Examination – Clinical Application

Testing to become a certified nursing assistant is among the most stressful times for many aspiring CNAs. While you’ve spent many hours of classroom and facility training, the examination is when you must demonstrate your ability to successfully complete all duties required of a CNA. While CNA examinations consist of a multiple-choice theoretical portion, to successfully obtain your certification, you must also pass a clinical application exam module. This is where you put your knowledge to the test by physically demonstrating your skills and knowledge.

Clinical Application Demystified

When scouring the various online forums dedicated to CNAs, there is a theme of confusion regarding exam clinical applications. While each state may differ in how it tests, all states require successful completion of this exam module, which is also referred to as the Skills Evaluation. The following information is considered general across the United States. Obtain state-specific clinical application requirements and expectations by reviewing the CNA Candidate Handbook published by your state’s board of nursing or professional licensing division.

The Setting

While you’re expected to demonstrate your competency working within an actual health care facility after you finish your CNA Classes, the clinical portion of the exam is done within the actual testing facility; however, the room is a perfect replica of typical surroundings a working CNA must deal with. All necessary equipment and assistance is available throughout the duration of the exam.

According to the 2014 Georgia CNA Candidate Handbook, which features similar requirements throughout all states, the clinical portion is overseen by a Nurse Assistant Evaluator and the “patient” is a volunteer from the other test takers.

The purpose of this examination is to see how well you interact and treat patients. Therefore, a scenario is created to mimic a real-life situation. You must speak and treat the volunteer patient as if it was in real life. The Nurse Assistant Evaluator records and notes your performance. Speak with the volunteer patient in a casual and friendly manner. While not required to pass the examination, pleasant conversation can calm nerves to relax your mind and remember your cues.

In all, this practical examination will cover a minimum of five basic skill sets all CNAs must master. While hand washing is always one of these steps, the other four exam elements are randomly chosen out of learned skill sets. If any of these skills are done incorrectly, a negative score is added to the exam and the Nurse Assistant Evaluator will instruct you on proper procedures. While exceptions exist, you may gain a positive score on mistakes by listening to instruction from the Evaluator and re-doing the mistake correctly; however, refer to your states Candidate Handbook to determine the exact rules regarding this common policy.