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25 CNA Skills to Know and Be Able to Perform

In most states, there is a checklist of skills that, as a CNA, you will be expected to perform. There is usually a skills part of the CNA examination for which you will need to prepare. In this blog, we introduce the 25 skills. In five other blogs, we go into more detail about each skill, dividing them into four categories: personal hygiene and PPE; positioning, transferring, and moving patients; assisting with personal care (two blogs); and collecting vital signs and measurements. Here are links to the other posts in this blog series.

CNA Skills: Personal Hygiene and PPE

CNA Skills: Positioning, Transferring, and Moving Patients

CNA Skills: Assisting with Personal Care Part 1

CNA Skills: Assisting with Personal Care Part 2

CNA SKILLS: Collecting Vital Signs and Measurements

The 25 CNA Tested Skills

This is the entire list of skills and a brief description of each.

  1. Handwashing—Most every state will include handwashing in the skills examination.

  2. Donning and Doffing Gown and Gloves—Especially with transmissible diseases like COVID-19, donning and doffing protective personal equipment (PPE), such as gowns and gloves, is extremely important.

  3. Positioning in Fowler’s Position—This is adjusting the patient’s bed to be in a semi-sitting position, which may be required when a patient is short of breath.

  4. Positioning in Lateral Position—Moving the patient into this side-lying position may be appropriate in some scenarios.

  5. Transferring from Bed to Chair Using a Gait Belt—For patients who have difficulty ambulating, using an assistive device like a gait belt may be necessary.

  6. Assisting the Resident in Walking Using a Gait Belt—Gait belts can also be helpful in assisting and supporting a patient with walking.

  7. Making an Occupied Bed—For bedridden patients, you may need to change their sheets and make their bed while they are still in it, which can be tricky.

  8. Passive Range of Motion on the Upper Body—For patients with difficulty moving their upper extremities, passive exercises of shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers may be needed.

  9. Passive Range of Motion on the Lower Body—Especially for patients that are not ambulating, exercises of hips, knees, ankles, and toes can help prevent many complications.

  10. Brushing Dentures—Patients with dentures may need assistance caring for them.

  11. Mouth Care—Especially for unconscious patients, mouth care is essential in preventing infections.

  12. Upper Body Partial Bed Bath—For patients that have mobility issues or that are unconscious, upper body bed baths will help maintain hygiene.

  13. Lower Body Partial Bed Bath—Many bedridden patients will need assistance bathing their lower body.

  14. Providing a Back Rub/Massage—Back rubs and massages can be a complementary or alternative therapy for pain relief.

  15. Female Perineal Care—In addition to bathing, female perineal care is important for personal hygiene and also preventing infections.

  16. Shaving—While shaving may seem like a cosmetic task, it can be very helpful in helping a patient maintain their appearance, and it can be risky as it involves a razor.

  17. Fingernail Trimming—Similarly, fingernails can harbor bacteria, but they need to be trimmed carefully to ensure the skin is not damaged.

  18. Assisting Dressing with an Immobile Arm—As anyone who has had an arm injury knows, getting dressed with an immobile arm is difficult without assistance.

  19. Serving and Feeding a Paralyzed Patient—When a patient is paralyzed, not only is there a physical need for assistance with eating, but there are special precautions necessary to prevent complications such as aspiration.

  20. Assisting with Bedpans—For patients who are unable to get out of bed, a bedpan will be necessary for voiding.

  21. Measuring Height—An upright scale should be used to accurately measure a patient’s height.

  22. Measuring Weight—While electronic scales are helpful, you will be required to measure a patient’s weight manually using an upright scale.

  23. Recording Radial Pulse—As it is one of the most important vital signs, you will be required to manually measure the patient’s radial pulse.

  24. Recording Respirations—To be most accurate, measuring a patient’s respirations should be done without telling the patient that is what you are assessing.

  25. Recording Blood Pressure—While many people are reliant on machines to take a patient’s blood pressure, you will need to know how to manually take one.

The skills examination of the CNA exam can be stressful. But we will help you prepare by breaking down the skills and providing useful tips in this series of blogs.

CNA Skills Checklist

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