Nurse Aide State Competency Exam

What is the State Competency Exam?
1.  OBRA (1987) requirements, as outlined by HCFA, require all nurse aides working in nursing facilities to (1) successfully complete an approved course of no less than 75 hours and/or (2) successfully complete a written and skills performance competency test. 
2.  The State Competency Exam consists of a written and skills competency test.
  a. Written Test: 100 question multiple choice test completed online in the Test Center.
  b. Skills Test:  Consists of skills designed as a realistic nurse aide assignment.

How do I get on the Direct Care Workers Registry?
Once you successfully (70% or better) complete both the Written and Skills State Competency Exam you will be listed as eligible on the DCW Registry.

How do I become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?
Successfully complete both the Written and Skills State Competency Exam.

Do I have to take or complete a Nurse Aide Class before I can take the State Competency Exam?
No, Iowa is the only state that does not require successful completion of the 75 hour Nurse Aide Class prior to taking the state exam.  Anyone in Iowa can take the Nurse Aide Competency Exam. 

What is the cost of the State Competency Exam?
Written Competency Exam is $55.00. Skills Competency Exam is $95.00. Total: $150.00
If you are working in a LTC nursing facility, it is the facility’s responsibility to pay for the test.

How do I register for the State Competency Exam?
To register, call Continuing Education at 319-398-1022, or go to
For the Written State exam, after you have registered, you must also call the testing center at 319-398-5456 to schedule your appointment date and time.  

I passed one test but not the other.  What do I do?
You may take the failed exam up to 3 times.  If you do not receive a passing score on the third test, per regulations, you must successfully complete a Nurse Aide Class prior to retaking both tests again. Each test attempt is a separate charge to you or the facility sponsoring you.            
I was on the DCW Registry however; I’m now listed as ineligible. Why is that?
In order to stay on the registry, you must work at least one 8 hour compensated shift in a LTC facility every 24 months.  If no employment is reported for you in over 24 months, your name automatically goes to ineligible and you cannot work in LTC.

Nurse Aide Refresher Class

Can anyone take the Nurse Aide Refresher Class?
No, The class is intended as a refresher class for individuals who have not worked as an aide for a period of time and would like to return to the work force.

What are the requirements to take the class?  
Student must provide documentation of:
    a. Certificate of Completion of a Nurse Aide Class
    b. Or documentation the individual was previously listed on the DCW registry

How do I register for the Nurse Aide Refresher class?
Call Cont. Ed registration at 319-398-1022 or go to

Nurse Aide Class

How do I register for a Nurse Aide class?
Call Continuing Education registration at 319-398-1022.                            

I have questions (i.e.: physical, attendance, regulations) regarding the Nurse Aide Program, who can I speak to?   Facilities wishing to enroll their employee into a nurse aide class:

  1. Program Director at 319-398-4970
  2. Health Support at 319-398-5438.

Background Check?
1.  Nurse Aide background check - fee included in class registration.
2.  Must be submitted at least two business days prior to the first day of the Nurse Aide class.
3.  If there is a “hit”, the student will be notified by mail to complete additional information.
4.  If DHS determines the student is prohibited or is unable to approve a student’s participation in clinic, the student will not be able to attend the clinical component of the Nurse Aide course and will not fulfill the requirements needed to receive a certificate of completion for the class.

Due to the volume of material covered and the speed at which it will be presented, attendance at each session will be expected. 100 % attendance is recommended.

Classroom/lab:   Pass=79% or better   Fail= 78% or less
Each Clinic day is evaluated by the instructor as a Pass or No Pass.  If two clinical days are evaluated as a no pass, the student will no longer attend clinic and will not receive a certificate of completion for the Nurse Aide class. An absence is considered a no pass clinical day.

CE Refund Policy
Refund Policy: Refunds will be issued to learners who withdraw from class at least one business day prior to the class start date. No credit will be issued for classes dropped on or after the class start date. To withdraw your registration, please call 319-398-1022.

For questions regarding the NA Program, please call 319-398-5438.

For all questions regarding Kirkwood’s Nursing Program and/or their prerequisites, please call 319-398-5563.