Nursing Assistant Certification

Nursing Assistant Certification

Are your Adult Education students interested in working in the Health Care Field?  There is always a need for Nursing Assistants and it is a great opportunity to be working in the field.  The Health Care career ladder has so many choices for individuals with diverse backgrounds to continue to grow all while helping people, feeling good about what they do all while making a living wage.

In Minnesota the Nursing Assistant Certification and Registry is overseen by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).  Nursing Assistant Registered (NAR) and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) are the same certification.  Nursing Assistants can work in many different settings, but most are in Nursing Homes and hospitals.  It is a great first step to any health care career.

Students can  take the state certification exam in one of two ways.

Option 1: Register to “Test Out”.  This means that the student studies on their own and takes the certification exam without the training or a class.

Option 2: Take a training program before the exam. Most people are more successful on the certification exam having taken a training first.  These trainings can be found at International Institute of MN, Harmony, Mounds View, Rochester ABE sites and many community colleges.

There are two parts to the certification exam; demonstrating skills and knowledge portion taken on a computer.  Testers take both parts on the first try.  If someone passes one part but not the other, they can retake just that part needed.  Once someone has passed both parts, MDH will automatically add them to the Nursing Assistant Registry and they can start applying for jobs!

Nursing Assistant Certification expires after two years but if someone works as a Nursing Assistant, it is an easy renewal process online.  Many employers with help with the process.

International Institute of Minnesota is one of four ABE sites that offer the free Nursing Assistant Training.  Below is a success story from a CNA graduate, Elizabeth, who earned her certification in 2023. Find the full profile on this student here >>

Elizabeth arrived from Nigeria to help take care of her ill father-in-law, bringing two school-aged sons with her.  After he died, she felt adrift, with no job and no resources. Thanks to the recommendation of a church friend who was also an immigrant and a local hospital nurse, Elizabeth’s life dramatically changed.

“She told me I had potential,” Elizabeth said.

Becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA) transformed her life.

“The training helped me to get a good job. I get paid. I’m able to take care of myself. I’m able to take care of my family”, Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth now works the night shift at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul — a job she adores. She’s thankful to Institute teachers for preparing her for success as a CNA.

“The training is really, really good. Really intense, really hands-on,” Elizabeth said. She passed her certification exam on her first try — a feat for anyone testing in their non-native language. An Institute employment navigator helped polish her resume and prepare for her interview at Children’s.

One would never guess what challenges Elizabeth faces, given her infectious smile and positive attitude.

One step at a time, she plans to become a nurse practitioner and specialize in the mental health field. Meanwhile, she continues focusing on school, work and mothering her two teenage boys.

She has high hopes not only for herself, but for her children, too.

Learn more!

Elizabeth’s story is just one success story from an Adult Education student who entered the health care field through a CNA program. Learn more about the Certified Nursing Assistant credential and other credentials at the upcoming Adult Career Pathways Institute on April 19.

Julie Garner-Pringle, Nursing Assistant Program Manager International Institute of MN
Alisa Blackwood International Institute of MN