Over the course of the pandemic, TCC has helped train the Nursing Assistant Certified (NAC) staff Washington’s hospitals, clinics and other health care settings need to function. Now the college is giving NACs trained at TCC and elsewhere the chance to take the required certification exam before their opportunity expires at the end of September.
Nursing Assistant Registered (NARs) normally have 120 days to complete their certification testing after they complete their programs and find employment. But that rule was waived during the pandemic.
“The testing has been very difficult to do with COVID,” explained Nursing Professor Julie Benson. “The emergency rules have allowed the NARs to extend past the 120-work rule, but this will expire at the end of September. This means that the NARs that have not tested by the 120-day mark can no longer be employed.”
The Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission, which is part of the Washington State Department of Health, secured funding to support a “mass examination plan” for NACs. The Commission determined that the most efficient way to test more than 5,000 nursing assistants statewide in a short period of time was to work with the state’s network of community and technical college nursing programs. Most have nursing labs that can accommodate several stations for testing skills at one time.
The Commission plans to schedule 80 2-day events to test 5,120 NAR candidates. Locations, including TCC, have been chosen based on the concentration of test-takers within a given area. Clinical faculty have been given the opportunity to help with the testing; per federal regulations, they’re not allowed to test their own students, but TCC nursing faculty will be able to test NARs from other Pierce County programs.
At TCC, the testing will take place in 19-2 and at TCC Gig Harbor. Testing will begin on Aug. 17 and will continue through September. Further testing will be scheduled as needed.