The path to a career as a home health aide starts with training. Many community colleges and non-profit organizations offer HHA courses, as do some home health agencies. Your state’s certification requirements determine how much training and clinical work you need to complete, but most require 120 hours of classroom instruction plus 40-60 hours of practice with actual patients.
After you complete your training, you’ll need to pass the written and skills portions of the HHA exam. These tests will evaluate your understanding of medical concepts and your ability to take care of clients in their homes. If you fail the test, you won’t be certified to work for any home health agency that accepts Medicare and Medicaid. To give you the best chances of passing the HHA exam on your first try, follow these tips:
1. Get as much practice as possible.
The written portion of the HHA exam can include anywhere from 50 to 100 questions, and although your training should prepare you for these, it’s always a good idea to buy or borrow an exam prep book and take the HHA test answer key practice under test-day conditions. This will help you familiarize yourself with the type of questions you will be asked and will improve your chances of passing the exam.
2. Start studying early.
You should study for the HHA exam in short sessions each day rather than trying to cram everything in during the weeks before your test date. This will help you retain information and will keep your mind focused on the task at hand. Having a study schedule will also help you avoid stress and anxiety, which can hinder your ability to concentrate.
3. Choose a quality home health aide program.
While the exact course you choose to take will depend on your state’s requirements, there are some high-quality options available. For example, Penn Foster offers a fully online HHA course with an optional externship component. The curriculum covers therapeutic communication, body systems, drug pathways, nutrition, and more, and can be completed in 13-16 months. Students can pay by the month or in full, and they have access to career services through the Ashworth College Central Network.
4. Study with a partner.
A study partner can be a great way to motivate you and stay on track with your preparation for the exam. Having someone to hold you accountable to your goals and provide feedback on your progress can be a strong motivator, especially when preparing for a challenging test like the HHA exam.
5. Study on your own, too.
While your home health aide training will prepare you for the written portion of the exam, it’s important to also study on your own in addition to taking part in class lectures and labs. Having an extra set of eyes to go over your notes can help you spot any mistakes or missed opportunities that may be hindering your success on the test. Moreover, studying with a friend can give you the support system you need to push through when it gets tough.