Become a Certified Hospice Aide

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If you are interested in becoming a certified hospice aide, formally called a Certified Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant (CHPNA), certification is offered through the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA).  Certification validates an individual’s knowledge and competence in the area of hospice and palliative care. Your hospice organization most likely has information on the process of becoming certified, and may even provide the core curriculum for hospice aides to study and prepare for the test.  This book is called Core Curriculum for the Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant, 3rd edition (published 2015).  The currently listed price is $70 for members and $90 for non-members and can be purchased through the HPNA website at hpna.org under “Shop.”

There are several steps to becoming certified and this blog will provide an overview of the process.

Eligibility:  To be eligible for the CHPNA exam, the applicant (hospice aide) must have 500 hours in the most recent 12 months or 1000 hours in the most recent 24 months under the supervision of a registered nurse in the U.S. prior to applying for the exam.

Preparing for the Exam:  Depending on how much experience you have in hospice, the amount of study time will vary.  Studying the core curriculum and doing the practice test questions can give you an indication of how much time will be needed to prepare for the certification exam.

The Core Curriculum:  The most updated version of the core curriculum should be used since new information and additional sections were added in 2015.  The areas of study that are listed in the table of contents include:

  • Overview of Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant Practice
  • Pain Management
  • Symptom Management
  • Ethical Issues
  • Communicating with Patients, Families, and Care Providers
  • Cultural Considerations
  • Loss and Bereavement
  • Spiritual Care
  • Care at the Time of Dying
  • Personal and Professional Development

Also:

  • Study Questions
  • Case Studies
  • Test Taking and Study Skills – Preparation for Success
  • Glossary

Unlike other core curriculum texts for RN’s, LPN’s, and ARNP’s, the nursing aide’s study text is all contained within one book.

CHPNA Candidate Handbook:  This updated 2015 handbook (which can be downloaded for free from the HPNA website) is a 26-page description of the process of certification described in detail.  It includes general information (policies, testing centers, exam appointments, fees/refunds, a practice exam, and much more), certification for nursing assistants, application for the exam, special accommodations, and more.  Everything you need to know about becoming certified!

Exam Windows and Application Deadlines:  In the CHPNA Candidate Handbook you will find the windows for testing which are four times a year (March, June, September, and December).  Application start dates are typically three months before the month you choose to take the exam (of the four months listed above).  Deadlines for applying to take the test are included and can be done by paper application or online application.

Examination Fees:  For initial certification the cost is $185 if you are a HPNA member and $225 if you are not a member.  For re-certification (every four years) the cost is $170 for members and $200 for non-members.  These fees may be subject to change.

Exam Content:  The CHPNA Candidate Handbook divides the exam content into sections.  For example, patient care (ADL’s) are 26% of the exam; patient status and environment are 30% of the exam; psychosocial/spiritual care of patient and family is 21% and so on.  The handbook also includes sample questions to practice your knowledge of hospice care.

Exam Application:  The CHPNA Candidate Handbook contains the application for the exam (and you can also apply online).  It also contains forms for special accommodations that may be needed at the time of the exam.

Recertification:  The Certified Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant (CHPNA) certification is valid for a four year period. In order to renew the CHPNA certification you must sit for and pass the computer based exam before current certification expires.

Your Hospice Organization:  Some hospice employers will not only provide the core curriculum to study for the exam, they might also pay for your exam on the condition that you pass.  Also, your pay scale may be increased if you are certified.  Good incentives!  Check with your nurse educator to see what benefits your hospice offers!

For more information on becoming a Certified Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant (CHPNA) see your hospice educator or go to hpna.org.  And if you decide to pursue this certification we wish you success and all the best!

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