A: Once you pass the exam, your certification credential is valid for five years. It is your professional responsibility to monitor the requirements needed to maintain your CNA certification and to plan for renewal. 8 months prior your renewal due date, CNA will automatically send via e-mail information about certification renewal to all candidates. The CNA website also has current information about certification renewal. Again, it is important to advise the CNA Certification Program Processing Centre of any change to your e-mail or mailing address so that contact can be maintained.
Q: When should I send the payment for initial certification or renewal fees – with the application or once I have received the eligibility letter?
A: Current, dated payments of the total fee(s) (by cheque, money order or credit card) must be submitted with your application. Applications will not be processed until fees payments are received in full.
Q: Is my certification/renewal fee tax-deductible?
A: Certification and renewal fees do not meet the requirements of the Income Tax Act and therefore, do not qualify as a tax education tuition credit. CNA has appealed the decision with Canada Revenue Agency but has been unsuccessful in reversing it. We will continue to monitor the situation.
A: There are various avenues you may wish to investigate to obtain financial assistance. In addition to the information listed under the Financial Assistance section of the website, you can apply for the Canadian Nurses Foundation (CNF) certification award or investigate whether your jurisdiction, provincial nursing association, specialty/area of nursing practice association or employer provides funding support for certification.
Q: How do I find out if there are any last-minute changes to the certification exam administration?
A: Minor changes at specific writing centre locations can be addressed on exam day and candidates will be notified at that time (e.g., a room change will be posted at the writing centre location).
However, any major changes (e.g., postponement of the exam) are communicated directly to each candidate affected. Candidates will be contacted by mail (if time permits), phone and/or e-mail. CNA’s website is your best source of up-to-date information; therefore, we strongly recommend that you consult the website regularly during the weeks leading up to the exam date, especially the week before the exam.
The CNA certification toll-free phone line will also have any updated exam administration information.
As you can appreciate, for CNA to be able to respond to your inquiries quickly all candidate information must be accurate and up-to-date. Please notify the CNA Certification Program Processing Centre directly if there are any changes to your contact information.
A: Although the CNA certification exam is practice based, you can improve your preparation by studying on your own or in study groups. You should refresh your knowledge in all areas of your specialty, especially those in which you have not been actively involved in recent months. As a first step, review the list of competencies for your specialty/area of nursing practice and identify the ones you will need to gain or refresh your knowledge about. Also, the summary chart-exam blueprint will give you an idea of the percentage of questions dedicated to each competency’s categories. This process will guide your studies regarding where to start and what to prioritize.
For reference manuals, please select from the bibliography list. Bolded references are the key reference books suggested by the examination committee. If unsure about the books you need, you may want to consult a CNA mentor in your specialty. All mentors are certified nurses in their specialty, and they are valuable resources for candidates seeking support or assistance with their certification.
Your eligibility e-mail and letter will contain a web address providing access to CNA certification online exam prep resources. If you have not received your eligibility letter within eight to ten weeks of applying, please contact the Certification Program Processing Centre immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The exam prep resources are published online by CNA. Some sections of the resources are developed by the same nursing experts who develop the certification exams. The resources contain:
a list of competencies for the specialty/area of nursing practice;
the blueprint for the exam;
an online practice test, including answers with rationales;
information on study groups and CNA mentors; and
background information about the online practice test.
These online references are not intended to be the only source for your exam preparations. They are an excellent complement to your other study resources – which you should be using while awaiting access to your online exam prep resources.
CNA’s NurseONE web portal also offers you one-point access to a wealth of nursing evidence-based tools and information that can be helpful to your preparation.
The CNA Certification Program does not conduct certification review courses, and it does not endorse specific courses or workshops. Be wary of any course or workshop that claims or implies direct knowledge of the contents of CNA certification exams.
The CNA Certification Program does not release exam questions, except for the sample questions used in the practice test section of its online exam prep resources. The CNA Certification Program is not responsible for the content of any review course.
We also invite you to view and participate in the CNA Certification webinar series, which will give you more information on the program and how to prepare for the CNA Certification exam.
At any time, you can consult the CNA certification website for a list of competencies and a bibliography for each specialty/area of nursing practice. The website is also the best place to find mentors and study groups. All mentors are CNA-certified nurses who can offer excellent support and assistance to candidates seeking certification. CNA continually updates its list of study groups as the information becomes available.
A: The exact location within each advertised writing centre may not be finalized until six weeks before the exam. At that time, we will mail you the exam address and admission letter. We cannot finalize the exam location until all of the applications are processed and we have a final count of candidates registered in each writing centre. That way, we can be sure the exam room is large enough to accommodate everyone.
A: The exam is administered in a 3.5-hour session. There are no scheduled breaks during the exam; however, candidates will be allowed to leave the room for short periods (e.g., for washroom breaks) as needed. On the day of the exam, we strongly recommend that you arrive by 08:30, so you can complete the registration process and hear the pre-exam verbal instructions, which will start at 09:15 promptly.
A: The CNA certification exam is practice based. It is designed to test the knowledge and skills expected of a nurse with at least one to two years of full-time experience in the specialty.
The exam consists of multiple-choice questions that represent situations a nurse could encounter in daily nursing practice. Each question is made up of an introductory section (the case), which presents a situation or problem. The question is followed by four possible answers. Each question has only one correct or clearly best answer. The CNA certification online exam prep resources, sent to eligible candidates, are excellent because the questions provided accurately reflect the types of questions you could find on the real exam.
You should do your best on all of the questions on the exam, but do not spend too much time on any one question. You have 3.5 hours to answer 160-165 questions.
A: You will record your answers on a scannable answer sheet that is then computer scored. You will receive one point for each correct answer. Do not put more than one answer per question, as double answers will be scored as incorrect. Answer each question to the best of your ability; you do not lose points for wrong answers, so do not leave any questions blank.
Q: Can I obtain my results electronically or verbally?
A: All results are mailed and cannot be given over the phone or by e-mail. If you are still expecting your results nine weeks after writing the exam, please contact the CNA Certification Program at 1-800-361-8404.
Q: Why pass or unsuccessful and not a numerical mark?
A: The purpose of the certification exam is to determine whether a candidate has met the standards required to be certified, not to rank-order candidates. The questions are designed to best classify the candidates into two categories: pass or unsuccessful.
The exam committee for each specialty sets the pass mark using a modified Angoff method by rating each question according to its difficulty and the expected success rate of nurses with at least two years of full-time experience in the specialty. As well, testing consultants use statistical information to ensure that the pass mark is fair and valid.
The pass mark is not published, and only a pass or unsuccessful grade is provided. The exam determines how well a candidate has mastered the nursing competencies required for a particular specialty. A competency describes the integrated knowledge, skills, judgment and attributes required of a registered nurse to practice safely and ethically in a designated role and setting. (Attributes include, but are not limited to, attitudes, values and beliefs.)
A: Once you pass the certification exam, you earn the privilege of using the CNA certification designation for your specialty for the next five years until you renew your certification. The designations are also listed in the Introduction section on page 1 of the General Application Guide.
In recognition of your achievement, you will also receive a graduate portfolio containing the following:
The official CNA certification pin for your specialty/area of nursing practice
An 8" x 10" certificate of achievement with a gold seal
Once certified, you will be formally recognized in the published official list of certified nurses sent to the provincial jurisdictions. Your name will also be sent to your national specialty association if you have agreed to this on the application form. Once you have earned the certification credential, you may also participate in CNA exam development administration activities (e.g., participate in items writing sessions) and be a CNA mentor.
If you are conducting a study group, please let CNA know about it so we can add your group to the Exam Study Groups list. It’s a great way to network with other nurses who are interested in certification.
Q: I would like to join a study group, but there are none in my immediate area. What can I do? Are there other resources I can consult?
A: The Build on What You Know study group manual, in CNA’s Study Groups section, contains useful information for nurses who do not have access to study groups in their region or place of employment. For example, one option would be to contact the facilitator from an existing study group for your specialty and discuss the feasibility of participating by telephone or e-mail. You may also wish to consult with a mentor from your specialty. List of mentors.
A: All paper applications should be sent to the CNA Certification Program Processing Centre. The address is listed on the first page and the back cover of the application guides as well as at the bottom of the application forms.
A: All inquiries about the processing of your application or any changes to your contact information (e.g., change of name/address, verification of status, withdrawal, refund questions) should be forwarded to CNA Certification Program Processing Centre personnel at email@example.com or 1-800-450-5206. Changes in contact information can also be sent by e-mail or by completing the Update Your Information form on the CNA certification website. However, if you have inquiries about eligibility criteria, or questions about certification unrelated to the application process, contact the CNA Certification Program at 1-800-361-8404 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What happens after I send in my General Application form and all supporting documents?
A: Your application will be reviewed.
The CNA certification staff reviews every application to determine whether the applicant is eligible. If you meet all the eligibility criteria and your application is complete, we will send you an e-mail confirming your eligibility followed by a letter within eight weeks of receiving your complete application. If you do not receive these confirmations within 10 weeks, please call the CNA Certification Program Processing Centre.
Your eligibility e-mail will include a web link to access the online exam prep resources for your nursing specialty/area of nursing practice exam. Your eligibility letter, which arrives after the e-mail, will contain an official payment receipt. Additional information is available on the CNA certification website.
To avoid delays and receive your web link to access the online exam prep resourcesas quickly as possible after you apply, it is very important that you double-check that your application is complete, all supporting documentation is included and the payment fee is correct.
About one month before the exam date, CNA will send you necessary information about your exam writing centre and about the exam.
If CNA determines you are not eligible to write the exam because of insufficient nursing practice hours or insufficient continuous learning activities or both, you will be sent a written explanation of this decision.
A: Basic education is the education received in your entry-to-practice program to become a registered nurse. Education undertaken afterward is post-basic. Please note that you must have completed a post-basic course or program of at least 300 hours in your nursing specialty/area of nursing practice from a recognized institution in order to apply for Option B.
Q: I am due to renew my certification. Where can I obtain the necessary application form?
A: About six months before their renewal due date, all certified nurses due to renew their certification are automatically sent an e-mail Certification Renewal Notice reminder containing the necessary information. If you have not received your renewal application information, you can obtain it in any of the following ways:
A: All paper applications should be sent to the CNA Certification Program Processing Centre. The address is listed on the first page and the back cover of the application guide.
All inquiries about the processing of your application and any changes to your contact information (e.g., change of name/address, e-mail address, verification of status, receipt) should be directed to CNA Certification Program Processing Centre personnel at 1-800-450-5206.
However, if you have inquiries about certification renewal eligibility requirements or about the possibility for an inactive status, contact the CNA Certification Program at 1-800-361-8404.
Q: What happens after I send in my Certification Renewal Application form and all documents?
A: CNA certification staff reviews every application to determine if the applicant is eligible.
If you meet all the eligibility criteria and your application is complete, we will send you an e-mail confirming your eligibility followed by a letter within ten weeks of receiving your complete application. If you do not receive these confirmations within 12 weeks, call the CNA Certification Program Processing Centre.
Q: What do I receive once I renew my certification?
A: By successfully renewing your CNA certification credential, you will continue to have the privilege of using the credential for your specialty/area of nursing practice.
In recognition of your achievement, you will also receive near the end of your certification term a certification renewal portfolio containing the following:
A gold seal to apply to your initial certification certificate.
The official CNA nursing certification pin for your specialty/area of nursing practice.
Once you have renewed your certification, you will be formally recognized in the published official list of certified nurses sent to the provincial jurisdictions upon their request. Your name will also be sent to your national specialty association if you have agreed to this on the application form. You may also participate in CNA exam development administration activities (e.g., participate in items writing sessions) and be a CNA mentor.
Q: For how long is my renewed certification valid?
A: Your certification renewal credential is valid for an additional five years. It is your professional responsibility to monitor the requirements needed to maintain your CNA certification and to plan for your next certification renewal.
CNA will automatically send certification renewal information via e-mail to all candidates. This website also has current information about certification renewal. Again, it is important to advise the CNA Certification Program Processing Centre of any change of e-mail or mailing address so that contact can be maintained.
Q: What happens if I do not meet the CL requirements for certification renewal?
A: First, carefully read the eligibility criteria and the guidelines for earning CL in the application guide so you are aware of the requirements for certification renewal. There is enough information in the guide to help most candidates determine whether they have enough CL hours. If you are still unsure about certain activities, please contact the CNA Certification Program for guidance.
If you do not meet the requirements because of special circumstances, review the guidelines for Inactive Status and/or contact the CNA Certification Program to discuss your situation at 1-800-361-8404.
If, after checking the guide and consulting with certification personnel, you are certain you do not have enough CL hours to meet the criteria, you can choose to renew your certification by rewriting the certification exam or apply for inactive status. If you do not apply for certification renewal in time, your credential will lapse. To earn the certification credential again, you will have to meet the current eligibility criteria, submit an application for initial certification and write the certification exam.
Q: What happens if I do not meet the hours of specialty/area of nursing practice requirements for certification renewal?
A: You can count your CL activities right up to the last day of your certification term. If you do not meet the requirements because of special circumstances, you may be eligible for inactive status. Review the guidelines for Inactive Status and/or contact the CNA Certification Program at 1-800-361-8404 to discuss your situation.
If you do not apply for certification renewal in time, your credential will lapse. To earn the certification credential again, you will have to meet the current eligibility criteria, submit an application for initial certification and write the certification exam.
Q: What do I do if I can not meet renewal requirements?
CNA is considering the creation of an “emeritus certified nurse” status within the certification program for nurses who have changed their specialty/area of nursing practice in the past five years or have retired or are planning to retire.
The new status will be for nurses who have had to let their credential lapse, but who still want to maintain a connection with the CNA Certification Program. Email us to receive (as soon as they become available) more information and an application form to become a “CNA emeritus certified nurse.”
Q: Can I count my CL hours until the end of my term, or do I need to have earned all my hours by the time I apply?
A: You can count your CL activities right up to the last day of your certification term. You might have to forecast a few hours of CL during the last months of your certification term. On your CL form, please write “anticipated” or “forecast” beside any CL activities you are planning to take. Guidelines and forms for earning CL activities.
Q: I have returned to school to study for my baccalaureate degree in nursing. Will any of the courses count toward renewing my certification in emergency nursing?
A: University courses taken toward completion of an undergraduate nursing degree, master’s degree or PhD can count toward your certification renewal, but the course content must relate to your nursing specialty/area of nursing practice. Courses such as English literature, history or music do not count.
However, a nursing leadership, ethics or research course in which you focus on your specialty/area of nursing practice area does count. For example, you might take an ethics course and focus your assignments on ethical issues in emergency nursing. Simply state this information on the form you use to list your CL activities.
In general, a university or college semester course (e.g., from September to December) equals 36 CL hours. You can also calculate one CL hour for every clock hour you spent attending the course (e.g., 3 hours/week x 12 weeks = 36 CL hours).
Q: I attended a conference related to my certification specialty/area of nursing practice, but it offered medical education credits. Does the conference count toward my nursing certification renewal?
A:Yes, you can count this conference. If you refer to the General Guidelines for Earning CL Activities section in the application guide, you will see that the conference counts because it relates to your specialty/area of nursing practice. You can claim CL hours for the time you attended the conference (excluding breaks). Remember to keep some formal documentation to prove your attendance at this conference in case you are audited.
Q: I have the chance to attend a nursing specialty/area of nursing practice conference in Boston. Do I need pre-approval from CNA to count my attendance at this conference toward my certification renewal?
A: No, pre-approval of CL activities is not required. As long as your activity meets the guidelines, it counts. If you are ever unsure whether to count an activity, even after consulting the CL guidelines, feel free to contact the CNA Certification Program.
International conferences are accepted and encouraged. Be sure to keep your formal proof of attendance at the conference in case you are audited.
Q: I have accumulated many CL activities during my certification term, and I think I have more hours than required. Should I list all my CL activities with my application? If I am audited, how many hours do I have to prove?
A: It is best to list as many CL activities as possible. However, it is also important to refer to the General Guidelines for Earning CL Activities section in the application guide to make sure you are listing allowable activities. The reviewers who read and approve your application will apply these guidelines when they look at your 100 hours of CL. Be sure to compile your list carefully, making certain that every CL activity meets the general guidelines.
If you are audited, you will have to show proof of 100 hours of CL related to your nursing specialty/area of nursing practice during your five-year certification term and align them with your chosen nursing specialty competencies.
Q: What happens if I do not meet the CL requirements for certification renewal?
A: First, carefully read the Eligibility Criteria and the General Guidelines for Earning CL Activities sections in the application guide so you are aware of the requirements for certification renewal. There is enough information in the guide to help most candidates determine whether they have enough CL hours. If you are still unsure about certain activities, please contact the CNA Certification Program for guidance.
If you do not meet the requirements because of special circumstances, review the guidelines for Inactive Status and/or contact the CNA Certification Program to discuss your situation.
If, after checking the guide and consulting with certification personnel, you are certain you do not have enough CL hours to meet the criteria, you can either choose to renew your certification by writing the certification exam or apply for Inactive Status. If you do not apply for certification renewal in time, your credential will lapse. To earn the certification credential again, you will have to meet the current eligibility criteria, submit an application for initial certification and write the certification exam.
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