You’ve completed your nurse assistant training and maybe put in a few hours providing direct patient care. You’re enjoying your new job and look forward to a long and rewarding career of helping others. So what do you do when an unexpected situation arises that requires relocation to another state? Whether your relocation is due to life’s circumstances, a new job opportunity or something else, it’s possible to transfer your license and begin working as a CNA in another state. However, unlike other careers, it is not as simple as applying for a job and picking up where you left off. CNA certification and licensing is state specific, meaning every state has individual requirements with regards to training and certification. So when life throws you a curve ball, the first thing you need to do is recertify in the new state before you begin working there.
Transferring your certification is, for the most part, a simple process. However, the process might require a few extra steps in some states. As it currently stands, there are two options for CNAs who want to transfer to another state. The first option is simple, if your home state shares reciprocity with your new state. If not, you’ll need to retake the nurse aide evaluation in the new state in order to recertify. Since every state employs different policies for CNAs, you’ll have to check with the Nurse Aide Registry of your future state to determine the exact requirements for recertification.
The following provides an overall guideline of the steps for transferring your license to begin working as a CNA in another state.
Transferring your CNA license between states with reciprocity arrangements
Some states have reciprocity with one another. Reciprocity is the process where active, certified nurse aides transfer their license to the new state for employment purposes. If your current and future states share reciprocity, the new state will accept your license as if they had issued it themselves. In other words, you won’t need to retake the nurse aide evaluation – which will shorten the process of certification in the new state.
The nurse aide registry in the new state will require the following documents along with your completed application for reciprocity and any associated fees:
- Your social security number
- Proof of employment (pay stub)
- Proof of training and certification
- Background check
Note: Send copies of the documents; not the originals. Provide your mailing address, e-mail address and phone numbers along with the instructions (new address) where the registry could mail your new certification.
The mandatory FBI background check could delay the process by as much as eight weeks. Therefore, you should contact the registry early to make the necessary arrangements and avoid delays. Expect the transfer to take at least two months to complete. Some states will let you work, with some restrictions on time while you await the transfer.
The nurse aide registry may require the previous registry to complete a segment on the reciprocity application. Therefore, you should maintain contact with both registries in order to provide the required information to expedite the process.
Remember that laws vary by state. Review the policies for the new state as it pertains to the scope of practice, license renewal, continuing education requirements, and other local laws. Make note of your renewal date – it would most likely be different for your previous state- and the continuing education units you’ll need to fulfill during the period of certification.
Retesting for recertification
If your existing and new states do not share reciprocity, you’ll have to take the state’s nurse aide evaluation comprising of the written and skills test. Also, the new state may require you to take additional courses if your previous training is not comparable with that of the new state. Contact the nurse aide registry first, to find out what the testing and training requirements are for transferring your license.
After completing any additional training, you can then apply to sit for the nurse aide evaluation. The process will be similar to applying for a new license. You’ll need to submit copies of the following documents to the test administrating authority to schedule your exam:
- Social security number
- Driver’s license or other state ID with photo
- Proof of education and certification
- Details of recent employment
- Letter of authorization from the state’s department of health or similar authority to take the exam
If you’ve had your certification for a while before you relocate, you should check the expiration and complete the transfer process before the license expires. Expired or inactive licenses take longer and require additional steps to transfer.
A note on criminal convictions, disciplinary actions, or registry findings
Disciplinary action taken by the Nurse Aide Registry is public information. If there have been disciplinary actions taken against your license in your home state, it may affect your ability to transfer to another state. If you do apply for a transfer of license, you must report all disciplinary actions with explanations and accompanying documents. The same holds true for criminal convictions. Disclose all details and support documents to aid the registry in the decision-making process. Remember, all applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and findings may be mean automatic denial of a license.