Certification test language may be contributing to Massachusetts' CNA shortage

Nurse assistants are in chronic shortage across Massachusetts, and the language of the state certification test could be acting as a stumbling block for immigrants trying to become certified, GBH reported May 14.

Currently, the state test is only offered in English, which is problematic for immigrants that are learning English as a second language as the way questions are worded can trip up English language learners, according to the report. Many immigrants studying to be nurse assistants pass all but the state certification test and have to take it multiple times. 

"As a society, we have an obligation to help people succeed, particularly immigrants who are more than willing to work at a job that isn't desirable to a lot of people," Joni Sexauer, RN, who runs a study group for immigrants preparing for the CNA exam, told GBH. "We don't have enough and we have people that are willing to do it that we are throwing stumbling blocks in their way. So I would like to remove those stumbling blocks."

The state plans to offer the test in Spanish, Chinese and Haitian Creole starting July 1.

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