In Iowa, the certified nursing assistants are front line nursing professionals who assist the registered nurses in nursing homes, hospitals and other clinical settings. They are responsible to provide with basic and direct patient care and facilitate the daily activities of the patients.
Certified nursing assistants are registered under the state’s CNA registry. This registry is maintained by the Iowa DIA (Department of Inspections and Appeals); more specifically by Health Facilities Division.
For qualifying to practice nursing professionally, the prospective candidates have to get trained in all the nursing aspects and manual skills through a formal CNA program and then pass the state approved exam for getting a certificate and a license.
Training courses for certified nurse aides are offered by many schools, vocational technical schools, community colleges, medical facilities, nursing homes, health care institutions, etc. Most of them are approved by the state of Iowa, provided that they last for at least 75 hours.
Outline of CNA Training in Iowa
The course program for certified nursing aide is quite shorter, when compared to that in other states. While other states prefer taking classes for 120-150 hours, those in Iowa last only for 75 hours. This fulfills the minimum hours requirement set by the national nurse aide authorities.
The duration emphasizes to concentrate on all the basic knowledge of nursing. Out of 75 hours, only 30 hours are given for the classroom instruction session and the rest 40-45 hours are given for the practical hands-on training session. This is because; they prefer to allot more time span to the practical aspect of the occupation rather than the theoretical aspect.
Theory portion covers topics like basic science, basic nutrition, basic patient care, human body mechanism, anatomy and physiology, health and population education, infection control, personal hygiene, patient safety, etc.
Practical portion is nothing but to perform clinical tasks under the guidance and supervision of the course instructors as well as registered nurses (RNs) at the respective setting.
The tasks include basic patient care, feeding and medication of patients, bathing and grooming, helping them to stand up and move, re-positioning whenever required, bed making, changing linens, providing with bed pan, catheter care for female patients, supporting the patients practically and emotionally and maintaining healthy environment around the patients.
They also get to learn how to get vital signs of patients and report them to the senior nurses, how to maintain the health updates of patients in form of charts regularly, how to report changes in patients’ health to the doctors, etc.
These kinds of tasks teach the students a few additional skills of intercommunication, precise English written communication and reporting skills.
Once the course work is successfully completed, one has to appear for the state approved exam for CNA. It is known as DCRE (direct care registry exam) and is usually administered at the training facilities only.
Since, the examination center is their training institute itself, they feel comfortable while appearing for the exams and this reduces their examination pressure to some extent.
The exam has 2 components of which one is technical and the other one is practical. The technical test is based upon the theory aspects of nursing which are taught to the students in classroom instruction.
This paper involves 70 multiple choice questions to solve in the given time. The students must achieve the score of at least 70% in this test. The practical test involves randomly chosen skills to be performed under supervision of senior nurse examiners.
The students need to perform the given skills accurately and show the competency level up to the mark. They are supposed to perform so as to ensure the safe and effective patient care. It is mandatory to pass in both the tests separately.
Certification and License
The positive competency evaluation allows the students to get the certificate for the nursing assistant. After that, they become eligible to apply for CNA license.
This signifies that they can continue their nursing practice anywhere in the state of Iowa, but not in any other state in the country. They get listed on the state’s nurse aide registry which keeps record of their personal and professional working status.
Requirement for renewal of the license is to submit the criminal background check proof. If someone certified from other state wants to move in this state for job as a certified nurse aide, then one has to transfer required credentials and license to the state of Iowa. This comes under the agreement of reciprocity of states.
The certification and license are supposed to be renewed after every 2 years. The candidates need to keep verifying and renewing the certificate and license in order to avoid the deactivation or expiry of validity.
Renewal has to follow certain procedure and verification can be done simply by contacting the state’s nurse aide registry, directly or online. The license can be kept in ‘active’ status by continuing nursing practice professionally for any period within the past 2 years.
The students who want to pursue nursing as a long-term career in this state have the best option to get enrolled in any approved CNA training program. Taking classes in Iowa has an advantage over other states that the class duration is very short; still all the aspects get covered.