How to Return to Being a Certified Nursing Assistant After Hiatus
Even if you love working as a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, developments in life may cause you to take a break from your career for one reason or another. Indeed, many healthcare professionals, including countless CNAs, take breaks, or hiatuses, from their jobs every now and then. Sometimes they stop working to care for their families, while other times they temporarily take on different types of work. Whatever your particular reason may be, don't worry. In most cases, returning to being a CNA after a hiatus is pretty straightforward.
1. Deal with Your Lapsed CNA License
If you have been on hiatus for some time, your CNA license may have expired. That all depends, of course, on how long you had before the license was due to expire and on whether or not you went ahead and renewed it anyway. While on a break, though, CNAs often fail to bother renewing their licenses. Sometimes they aren't even sure if they will return to the profession, so there's no point in paying the renewal fee. Before you can do anything else, you're going to have to renew your lapsed CNA license.
A few things to keep in mind when looking to renew a lapsed CNA license include:
- Work requirement - CNA license renewal requirements vary by state. In most states, however, CNAs who want to reinstate or renew their licenses must demonstrate that they completed at least 150 hours of work in their field within a two-year period. That two-year period doesn't always have to be the two years immediately prior to renewing your license. In some states, you simply have to show that the last period when you worked as a CNA, you worked for at least 150 hours total within that period.
- Citizenship - CNAs returning from hiatus are often surprised to learn that they have to provide proof of U.S. citizenship before receiving their new licenses. Of course, this isn't much of an issue for the vast majority of people. Usually, you have to provide this information before you can even enroll in CNA training. If you aren't a citizen, you must at least prove that you are eligible to work in the U.S. If there is any reason that this will be a problem for you, speak to an attorney or someone who can help you get your paperwork in order.
- Criminal background check - Chances are that whenever you are ready to apply for CNA jobs, prospective employers will perform background checks on you. Despite this, CNAs are usually required to undergo new background checks whenever they renew or reinstate their licenses. You are typically responsible for paying for any fees that are associated with this check. Sometimes you are required to provide fingerprints, while other times the background check is performed using a few pieces of personal information that you provide. Either way, you are unlikely to have any luck getting your CNA license back if you are unwilling to undergo this check. If something in your background may pose a problem, contact your state board of nursing for more information.
- Fees - It should come as no surprise that to renew a CNA license, you have to pay some fees. There is always a renewal fee to pay whether the license lapsed beforehand or not. The fee varies, but it is usually anywhere from $25 to $50. Some states charge an extra fee for allowing your CNA license to lapse, so you may have to pay a bit more than the basic fee. As long as you are eligible to renew your CNA license, you shouldn't have to pay anything else. If you end up needing to retrain or to sit for the exam again, however, you will have to pay for tuition and exam fees once more as well.
2. Retrain and Retake Exam if Ineligible to Renew License
In some instances, enough time may have passed that easily renewing a CNA license is no longer an option. Depending on how long it's been since your license expired and on the rules of your state, you may not be able to renew it at all after your hiatus. If so, you will have to undergo CNA training again. This also means having to sit for the CNA licensing exam another time. All of this is frustrating, to be sure, but it's just a process that must be followed. You may be able to avoid this problem in the future by taking care to renew your CNA license even if you're not currently working. Again, however, some states allow this and some don't, so be sure to check with your state board of nursing.
3. Update Your Resume and Apply for CNA Jobs
Once your CNA license is back in effect again -- whether you're able to renew it easily or must start all over again -- you will almost be ready to apply for jobs. The final hurdle to overcome is to update your resume. At the very least, you'll want to ensure that the information about your CNA license is accurate. Update your work history, and add any new skills or certifications that you have acquired in the meantime. Take the time to write unique cover letters for each job that you apply for, as it increases the odds of being noticed and, ultimately, hired. Soon enough, you will be sitting for interviews again and will be on your way to reentering the workforce.
If you think that you are in for a huge ordeal when returning from hiatus as a CNA, think again. Odds are that you will simply have to renew your license, update your resume, and go from there. Even if additional steps are necessary, it shouldn't take too long to get back on track.