Patient Care Assistant Certification & Certificate Program Info

Students interested in becoming a patient care assistant usually complete nursing assisting certificate programs to prepare for certification in the field. They may also complete patient care technician programs to enhance their knowledge and skills.

Essential Information

Patient care assistance programs train individuals to provide basic patient care under the supervision of the medical staff of nursing homes, long-term care facilities or other healthcare facilities. While certificates for patient care assistants or patient care technicians are beginning to become available, many students interested in this career first enter programs in nurse assisting, which prepare students for certification as certified nurse assistants (CNAs). Patient care technician programs are similar, and both program options involve a lot of hands-on, clinical work.

Nursing assistant certificates requires students to have already completed a high school degree or have earned a GED in order to enroll. Patient care technician programs, however, need students to have enrolled in a CNA course first. CNA programs usually last a few months, while patient care technician training varies in length based on what skills are being taught.

Certificate Programs for Certified Nurse Assistants

CNA programs provide the training necessary to pass state board exams and become certified. Students learn to keep patients comfortable, provide basic care and assist registered nurses. Students also learn techniques to assist nurses, such as collecting vital signs, as well as problem solving and communication skills. Programs usually include lectures and clinical experiences. Course topics include:

  • Basics of healthcare
  • Fundamental nursing skills
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • CPR training
  • Infection control

Certificate Programs for Patient Care Technicians

Patient care technician programs build upon the skills employed by CNAs. Students learn the technical, clerical, and interpersonal skills necessary to properly assist medical staff in a variety of healthcare settings.

Students participate in classroom study and clinical opportunities. Students might also learn specific skills such as collecting vital signs, phlebotomy, and EKG application. Courses might include:

  • Records and information processing
  • Patient care techniques
  • Medical terminology
  • Laboratory procedures
  • Communication

Popular Career Options

Patient care technicians and nursing assistants work for hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, rehabilitation clinics, long-term care facilities, and in-home care providers. Aside from patient care technician and certified nursing assistant, job titles might include:

  • Nurse aid
  • Home health aid
  • Hospice assistant
  • Patient care assistant
  • Nursing assistant
  • Personal care assistant

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, employment for nursing assistants is expected to grow 18% between 2014 and 2024. Most of the growth is in response to the growing elderly population and the number of patients entering long-term care facilities. The median salary for nursing assistants was $25,710 in 2015.

Continuing Education Information

Upon completion of a certified nursing assistant program, students may take their state board certification exams to become registered CNAs. Once individuals have obtained their CNA certification, they may consider pursuing certificate programs for patient care technicians or programs to become registered nurses as a means to advance their careers. Other opportunities for continuing education might be available through professional organizations, such as the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants or the National Association of Health Care Assistants.

Patient care assistant certification and CNA certification teach students about different techniques to promote the best care possible for different kinds of patients, including long-term patients and the elderly. Continuing education courses are often utilized to keep your knowledge up to date.

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