Massachusetts Nursing Assistant / Nurse Aide Guide

CNA - Certified Nursing Assistant - Aide Practice Exam

Is a License or Certification needed: You need to pass a state certified nursing assistant program and the state exam in order to be certified. This must be done in order to work as a nursing assistant in the state of Massachusetts and be listed on the Massachusetts Nurse Aide Registry.

Who Grants Certification: The Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services maintains the listing on the Massachusetts Nurse Aide Registry. See the Massachusetts DHHS and Nurse Aide Registry site here.

The Qualifications to become Certified: In order to take the nurses aide state exam and receive your certification, you must:

  • Complete a 90-hour DHHS approved Nurse Aide training program.
  • Provide documentation of this completion printed with a valid approval number.
  • Provide a letter on the training program’s letterhead stating that you have passed their course. It must be signed by your instructor, include the valid approval number, your name and the date that you passed the course. Note: In Massachusetts, your training never expires. Once you have been trained, you are always eligible to take the state certification exam.


  • If you have been employed as a nurse aide for more than two years, you can skip the training and apply to take the state certification test.
  • If you have passed a 100-hour Nurse Aide training course before July 1, 1989, you will always be eligible to take the state certification test.

How to Apply for Certification and to take the Exam: In order to apply for nurses aide registration in Massachusetts, you will need to apply to take the exam with the application found here

Test Content: The test has two parts, a skills evaluation and a written section. Both parts must be passed to be listed on the Massachusetts Nurse Aide Registry. The written section is 60 questions in length. You will have 90 minutes to complete the exam. The written exam includes 60 questions and you have two hours to answer them. Content topics include:

  1. Injury prevention, safety and emergencies
  2. Prevention and control of infection
  3. Resident’s Rights
  4. Basic nursing skills
  5. Personal care skills
  6. Communication skills to promote a positive atmosphere
  7. Restorative care
  8. Responding to atypical resident behaviors
  9. Role of the nurse aide

Further information, including the breakdown information for the categories listed above can be found here.

You will need to know the following clinical skills for the skills evaluation:

  • Carrying out instructions received from the charge nurse
  • Documenting that care has been provided
  • Hand washing
  • Indirect care (what is done before and after care giving)
  • Putting on and removing gloves
  • Bedpan
  • Dressing and undressing
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Hair care
  • Back rub
  • Collecting a urine sample
  • Respiration
  • Intake/Output
  • Perineal care
  • Positioning
  • Dentures and mouth care
  • Oral hygiene
  • Transfer
  • Commode
  • Pulse
  • Nail care
  • Range of motion
  • Assistance with feeding
  • Bathing
  • Empty drainage
  • Bed making
  • Temperature (non-mercury)
  • Choking
  • Blood pressure
  • Catheter care

You will need to practice these skills. They will not need to be absolutely perfect, but you will need to be deemed competent in these skills. An RN will guide you through a practice scenario.

Certification Renewal and Continuing Education Requirements
In the past two years, if you have worked for pay as a nurse aide for at least eight hours performing nursing related duties, you may renew here.

MA Nurse Aide Registry
MA Department of Public Health
Division of Health Care Quality
99 Chauncy Street, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02111

Phone: 617-753-8143
Verification: 617-753-8192


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