How To: Tuition Reimbursement Program for Nurses

After paying to attend a training program to become a nurse assistant, you might have spent at least a few hundred dollars. Although the fees vary by region, according to Tough Nickel the average cost to attend a nurse assistant program is $1,275. This estimate doesn’t even include the recent increase in testing fees, which in 2018 have jumped to $124.

Now factor in the cost of books, supplies, and a whole new wardrobe of scrubs for work. Whew! Most students can relate to the cost of higher education, but few students can afford it.

Ever wonder when you will see that money again?

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Fortunately, nurse assistants who enroll in qualified training programs approved by the state department of health can apply for reimbursement of some of these costs. While certain items are excluded from reimbursement, like the cost of gas to attend school, most of the associated costs of attending a nurse assistant training program are eligible for the state-funded employer benefit.

Here’s the catch – make sure you work for an employer who offers the tuition reimbursement benefit!

Long term care facilities and nurse assistant training facilities should be familiar with how to reimburse nurse assistant and CNA graduates. Jobs that may not offer tuition reimbursement are often at smaller organizations like adult family homes, independent employers (i.e. an individual paying for a private caregiver) or hospitals. These employers are typically exempt from the reimbursement rule. However, you should still inquire with your state board of nursing or nursing director to learn if there is a reimbursement policy where you work.

How do I apply?

Upon signing a contract to work as a nurse assistant, you will be presented with information regarding the tuition reimbursement agreement and forms. Since the tuition reimbursement application follows guidelines from the board of nursing, the process and requirements should be standardized.

For example, in Washington State, a nurse assistant graduate or CNA graduate will need to work for at least 3-6 months at the facility where they apply for reimbursement. The employment contract might also specify that reimbursement is attached to each pay check and given on a bi-monthly or monthly basis. In certain circumstances, you can also petition for a lump sum reimbursement payment. It is important to remember the request for reimbursement will need to be submitted within 12 months of graduation and/or an offer of employment.

Save your receipts

The state will ask each applicant to produce a proof of payment receipt for both eligible student testing fees and tuition for the nurse assistant program attended. According to the state, a “proof of payment” can be one of several documents:

  • A copy of a check
  • A statement from your credit card
  • A general ledger number from the transaction
  • A cash receipt

I hope this how-to guide has helped to save you money and time! Comment below if you have still have questions or concerns. Then subscribe to the blog so you know when an answer has been posted.

Free Printable Practice Test for Nursing Assistant & CNA Students

All nursing assistants who want to be listed in the federal OBRA registry to work as caregivers are required to take and pass the written and skills portion of their state exam. The knowledge you need for this exam is considered to be the fundamentals of nursing .

This article highlights several sections of the written test and establishes a few key test-taking strategies.

This material should relevant for all nursing assistant students hoping to take and pass the state test nationwide.  The information provided below is accurate for the majority of state tests.

If you would like additional practice test questions, detailed answers, or personalized study guides, write a comment below!

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What to Study

To make sure you will practice safely, the written exam asks questions primarily about what the authors of the test refer to as “Physical Care Skills”. These skills encompass activities of daily living, basic nursing skills, and rehabilitation/restorative care. Physical care skills are what you saw the NAC (nursing assistant certified) or CNA (certified nursing assistant) help patients with during your clinical rotation. As an NAC, you will need to not only know how to perform nursing tasks, but do so safely and with the overall health and well being of the client in mind. In addition to physical care skills, the written test will also ask you to identify client’s emotional and cultural needs. Finally, you will be asked to identify your role as a nurse assistant with the healthcare team, what you can and cannot do legally, and ensure the rights of the client are always upheld. Now, the real trick is to prioritize your studying…

How Long Should I Spend Preparing for the Written Test?

There will be 70 multiple choice questions on the written, or competency,  nurse assistant exam. You shouldn’t expect yourself to know all the information learned in school by the time you take your test. Instead, make sure you know the common vocabulary used by nurse aids and the general medical conditions of an elderly client. This will help you understand the question being asked and find the best answer. Additionally, if you focus on the topics that make up the majority of the test, you will most likely do well.

Testing Strategies 

A good testing strategy would be to spend at least some time each day reviewing the material you learned in class and the skills lab. Go beyond underlining passages and re-reading your book. Take the practice quizzes at the end of the chapters and think through any ‘case studies’ your book provides. Another great resource is to review previous tests that you took in school to find where you struggled the most. Perhaps it was understanding medical conditions or communicating with difficult patients? This information will serve as a guide so you can focus on material that you don’t know first; then you can review sections of your book that you already feel comfortable with.

Free Printable Practice Exam

These example questions will help you establish content mastery, which increases the rate of passing the written exam. If you want more practice questions, then you know what to do (here’s a hint! subscribe to my blog!). I’m happy to hear what you have to say, and more importantly, how I can help. The answer to each question is italicized.

Activities of Daily Living

When feeding a client, the nurse assistant should at least do the following:

  1. Tell the client what food is on their plate
  2. Wash the client’s hands before and after the meal
  3. Identify the patient before feeding by asking his or her name

Basic Nursing Skills

When recording the urine output of a client with urinary retention, the nurse assistant should expect which of the following outcomes:

  1. Large volume of urine.
  2. Frequent recording of urine output.
  3. Client has an inability to urinate and very few recordings are available each shift.

Emotional and Mental

When responding to a call light for another nurse’s client, what should you make sure to say?

  1. “Your nurse is on a break right now, she will help you when she returns.”
  2. “What do you want?”
  3. Hello, this is [your name and position], please let me know how I can help you”.

Client Rights

Your client would like to send a letter to his son but is confused and needs your help. What should you do first?

  1. Ask him what the letter says and then decide if it is ok to send this to his son.
  2. Read the letter and then mail it.
  3. Let him know that it is always his right to send and receive written communication, and you will help him send the letter.

Legal and Ethical Behavior

At the end of your shift, you begin to document in the client’s chart the care you gave today. Some days you give all daily care as ordered by the client’s doctor, but on busy days you don’t have time to help them with everything. Today you provided most of the required care, but not all of it. What should you do?

  1. Document that you provided all care today because you usually give the necessary care, and tomorrow you can catch up.
  2. Document only the care that you gave, and notify the charge nurse of any care that you were not able to provide the patient.
  3. Document that some care was given but not all, and don’t give specifics.


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