What happens when you forget to teach your CNA students about reciprocity?

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What is the world does reciprocity mean mean to a CNA?

Becoming a CNA is an entry level position. Many entering this field of work have never worked before or have never had a certification before. As nurses, and more importantly as their instructors, it is our duty to ensure we empower them with knowledge surrounding scope of practice, continuing education, how to re-certify, and reciprocity.

Students need to understand what reciprocity means and how it can affect them.

Reciprocity is the act of transferring a CNA certification from one state to another. Believe it or not, each state has its own laws regarding requirements of CNA’s that may be different than the state in which they originally obtained their certification. CNA are often transient and may find themselves moving around while they are trying to figure out their next step in life. Although it is your duty to teach them about their state requirements, it is prudent that you ensure they understand the process of transferring their certification as well.

An example of this may be the number of educational hours needed to become a CNA. In the state of Tennessee, it is required that a CNA obtain 75 hours of training. These hours are divided up as follows: 59 hours of class/lab and 16 hours of clinical.

Let’s say a CNA student obtained their CNA certification in Tennessee and decide 5 years later to move to Texas. Well, Texas requires more hours than Tennessee to become a CNA. In Texas it is required that a CNA must have at least 100 hours of training. These hours are divided up as follows:  60 hours of class/lab and 40 hours of clinical. In this case, the CNA is lacking 1 hour of classroom instruction and 24 hours of clinical instruction.

It is up to the accepting state of Texas to determine if they are willing to accept this CNA from Tennessee. Some states may give a solid NO, and require the individual to re-enroll in another CNA program that follows the new states requirements. Some states may accept the CNA based on their years of experience since obtaining their CNA. Others may accept the CNA pending additional training hours, continuing education hours, or the ability of the individual to pass the new states CNA exam.

So, it is important that you as a CNA instructor ensure your student knows how many hours of instruction they have had in classroom verses clinical education. It is also important that you reiterate that other states may have different states requirements. Nothing is worse than moving out of state and having a hard time finding work because you were not aware of how reciprocity works. I can’t tell you how many enrollees I get per year who give me this as their reason for re-enrollment. Please don’t fail your students when it comes to this. Make sure they know.

Fellow CNA Instructors, continue to touch lives and add value not only to your students lives, but also the lives that they in turn touch. You have a huge role in this system of healthcare. Thank you for taking it seriously!

If you are looking to start a CNA school or already own one, maybe I can help. Contact me for consulting assistance for your CNA school. I will be happy to help!

Victoria Randle NP-C

CNA Instructor Consultants LLC