Certified nurse aides care for patients who are sick, injured, convalescing or disabled. Although they provide basic services, they must complete training and pass a certifying exam to do the job. Each state has varying requirements for the career but all require CNAs to submit fingerprints to its regulating agency. This ensures that the professionals operate within the law for the patient’s best interests. The regulating agency in most states is the department of health or the board of nursing.
CNAs in each state must submit a complete set of fingerprints before they can take the certifying exam or get a license to work. The health department or board of nursing conducts a criminal background check with the fingerprints to ensure that the applicant has not committed crimes that could put the patients in danger. If the results show arrests or convictions, the board might ask for more information from the applicant before it makes a decision. It may approve or deny the application for a license based on the nature of the arrest or conviction and state regulations.
The fingerprinting requirement is for all nurse aides. New CNAs applying to take the certification exam must submit a fingerprint card with their application; and individuals renewing their certificates, or returning to their careers after some time, must submit a new set of fingerprints. The regulation also applies to nurse aides from other states; they must submit their fingerprints with an application for a certificate by endorsement or reciprocity.
Fingerprinting Service Providers
You can have your fingerprints taken at a local police department, sheriff’s office or private agency. The process can be manual or electronic, depending on the provider. If your state requires manual printing, your application packet will include a fingerprint card that you must take to the fingerprinting service provider. Some state agencies allow candidates to use the service provider's card. Some states require electronic fingerprinting. The process is faster because providers can send the images to the FBI instantly. Fingerprinting fees vary by provider.
Some fingerprinting service providers require an appointment. You’ll have to show government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or state ID card. Some providers also ask for your Social Security number. The process typically takes less than a half hour. The technician must carefully capture an image of each fingerprint electronically or on a card. At the end, the provider sends the digital images to the FBI or seals the fingerprint card in an envelope addressed to the FBI. You can expect a decision from the board after it receives the results of the background check. The processing time varies.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Nursing Aide, Orderly, or Attendant: Certification
- Prometric: New York State Department of Health: Nursing Home Nurse Aide Certification Program Manual: Criminal History Record Check
- Oregon State Board of Nursing: Fingerprint-Based Background Checks: Frequently Asked Questions:
- State of Alaska: Nurse Aide Registry: Applicants
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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