Certified nursing assistants' credentials are monitored by a state department or board of nursing to ensure that these health care professionals maintain their skills and to keep track of any complaints that may be lodged against them. To become a CNA, you must obtain your CNA certificate/license from the nursing board or other licensing authority in the state where you plan to work. What happens, though, if you must move to another state? As you might have suspected, you must be licensed there as well to work legally. Fortunately, it's usually fairly easy to do.
Reasons to Transfer a CNA License
The only real reason that you'll ever need to transfer your CNA license is if you are relocating to another state and want to keep working as a CNA there as well. To have as seamless of a transition as possible, it pays to understand the process behind transferring a CNA license to another state ahead of time.
CNA Licensing Reciprocity Between States
While it is usually never too difficult to transfer a CNA license to another state, it is easier in some states than in others.
Most states have a reciprocity plan in place, allowing you to become a CNA there as well without having to take the state's nurse aide exam.
Therefore, your first order of business is to find out whether the state you are relocating to has a reciprocity plan in place. If so, transferring your CNA license to your new state should be an easy process. Here's a bit of what to expect:
Compile required information - Even if you find that you can transfer your CNA license via reciprocity, you will need to provide your new state with several pieces of information to make it happen. That is because while these states have a reciprocity plan in place, they must independently verify that you currently possess the necessary credentials. Since they can't just take your word for it, you must be prepared to provide them with several pieces of information.
To verify your identity, you will typically need to provide a photo ID in the form of a driver's license or state ID. Some state licensing authorities also require a copy of your actual social security card. You must provide the new state with a copy of your currently valid CNA license from your previous state along with proof of having been recently and consistently employed as a CNA. You may have to show proof of having completed certain types of continuing education, and you must agree to submit to a criminal background check.
Complete and submit the application - When transferring to a state that has a reciprocity plan, CNAs and other health care professionals may have to complete and submit what is known as an Application for Enrollment by Reciprocity/Endorsement. This application is typically very similar to the one that you must complete to obtain your CNA license in the first place, so you shouldn't run across any surprises. For the most part, the application is concerned with your current status as a licensed CNA in your previous state, so just answer the questions to the best of your ability.
Ideally, you should have gathered the necessary documents ahead of time so that you can send them when they are needed along with your application. Note that in the vast majority of cases, state licensing authorities don't require or even want originals, so have copies made instead. Some states have very minimal requirements, while others require applicants to submit every possible piece of information as outlined above. Either way, you will also have to pay a licensing and/or transfer fee to have your application processed and your license issued. Contact your state licensing authority, which is typically the board of nursing or department of health, for up-to-date information regarding such fees.
Transferring CNA License Between Non-Reciprocity States
If your new state doesn't have a reciprocity plan in place, don't fret. It doesn't mean that you are out of luck; it just means that you have a little extra work to do. In most states, you must at the very least apply for a new CNA license and retake the licensing exam.
It should also be mentioned that in some instances, you may have to complete your CNA training all over again in your new state before being issued a CNA license there. However, if you can show that you completed such training from an approved program in previous state within the last two years, this requirement may be waived. In that case, obtaining a license in your new state will most likely mean submitting an application, taking and passing the licensing exam and being cleared through a criminal background check.
Although having to transfer a CNA license to a new state can seem like a lot of red tape, it is usually fairly simple. Even if you have to do it the more "complicated" way, you should be ready to go in no time.