Patient Care Assistant Undergraduate Degree Program Information

Patient care assistant training is available through undergraduate certificate programs that provide instruction in basic nursing skills. Learn about core study topics and popular career options for students who complete one of these brief programs.

Essential Information

Patient care assistants (PCAs), also called patient care technicians, provide direct patient care in hospitals and outpatient settings under the supervision of a registered nurse.

The minimum requirement for admission to a certificate program in patient care assisting is a high school diploma or GED. Applicants may also be required to demonstrate proficiency in the areas of math, reading, and language skills through placement testing (COMPASS or ASSET), SAT, or ACT scores. Applicants must generally also be at least 18 years of age and pass a drug test and criminal background check. Depending on the program and state, applicants may also need to have a current certificate in nursing assisting. Most certificate programs require one semester of study to complete.

Patient Care Assistant Certification Program

Students learn to care for patients in a home health care setting, hospital or outpatient center. Courses prepare students for patient relations through the study of communication skills, interpersonal skills, professionalism, and medical ethics. Finally, students receive training in geriatric, respiratory therapy, and physical therapy assisting. A national certification exam is available for graduates who wish to become certified patient care assistants. Course credits are generally split equally between classroom work and supervised clinical experiences at a local health care facility. Common core topics include:

  • Patient care
  • Electrocardiography
  • Phlebotomy
  • Home health care
  • Medical ethics of patient care

Popular Career Options

Graduates are prepared for a wide range of entry-level positions within the health care industry. Patient care assistants are employed in a variety of health care environments, including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, assisted living facilities, and home health care. Popular career options include:

  • Patient care assistant or patient care technician
  • Nursing assistant
  • Health care assistant
  • Medical office assistant
  • Home health care aide

In just one semester, students can complete a patient care assistant certificate program and gain access to career options that include nursing assistant, home health care aide, and patient care technician, among many others.

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