To become a Certified Nursing Assistant in Tennessee, there are several ways to qualify. The most common route is to complete a state-approved nurse aide training program. These educational programs can be found at nursing homes, community and technical colleges, or community healthcare institutions. The state requires that these training programs be at least 75 hours of instruction, with a mandatory 16 hours spent on patient-treatment skills before the trainee is permitted to interact with patients. After completing this training, the aspiring CNA is permitted to challenge the state’s competency evaluation exam. Other ways to become qualified to challenge the competency exam are for individuals with previous nursing experience. This includes nursing students completing their college degrees and military-trained medics. For these types of training to qualify, an official school transcript is required for nursing students and an official DD-214 form is required for medics. The competency evaluation is distributed by a private company, D & S Diversified Technologies. The test is in two sections. There is a written portion, testing the candidates’ knowledge on nursing, and a practical portion, testing the candidates’ ability to perform nursing duties. If passed, the trainee is officially registered as a CNA in the state of Tennessee for the next two years. After this period, the CNA must renew their certification or retrain completely if they have not been employed as a CNA for at least eight hours during their certification period.
The average salary for a CNA working in Tennessee is around $22,000. This is slightly below the national average. This can be explained by the lower wages paid to entry-level CNAs, though top earners are not much better off. The salaries received in Tennessee range between $19,000 and $25,000, so even the best-paid CNAs are not as well paid as those in other states. The average wage in Tennessee fits the regional norm, however, as CNAs in the South are paid less than elsewhere in the United States. There are fees associated with the cost of training and test registration. The cost of taking the competency evaluation is $30 for the written portion and $60 for the clinical skills portion. Training programs will vary in price, though nursing homes are a favorable option for the employment opportunities after training is complete. If offered employment within a year of completing training, the CNA is required to be reimbursed for their education expenses either by the employer or by state funds.