Personal Care Attendant (PCA) Training Programs and Courses

Personal care attendants (PCAs) work for home health aide firms or they may work independently to serve patients. Keep reading to learn more about the job and the training programs that can prepare you for employment. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Programs for personal care attendants do not typically result in a certificate or degree, but rather are offered as short, undergraduate training programs. Through such a program, you can study first aid, CPR, issues of abuse, Alzheimer's disease and cultural issues. Hands-on experiences, including lab work and an externship, may be required. Due to the hands-on nature of these programs, online options may be rare.

Program Options Basic Health Care, Nursing Assistant
Training Options Undergraduate training program
Certification Options Complete at least 75 hours of training, which may include post-secondary education (some states include additional requirements); voluntary certification is also available through the National Association of Home Care and Hospice

What Is A Personal Care Attendant?

Personal care attendants, also called home health aides or home care aides, are professionals who help with the daily needs of a patient with a handicap or illness. The patients may vary from the chronically ill to the handicapped or the elderly. Sometimes, personal care attendants help with the hospice care people need near the end of their lives.

How Do I Become Eligible?

A formal education is not necessarily required to become a personal care attendant. The necessary training is often provided on the job, where you can be taught by nurses or other practicing aides to perform many of the daily routines that personal care attendants are responsible for, like feeding patients, bathing or clothing them, bringing them to appointments or cleaning their homes. However, some states do require completion of a formal educational program to obtain certification.

Where Do I Find PCA Studies?

While formal education may not be necessary for this field, there are some education opportunities that can prepare you for work in personal care. Educational programs can also be useful if you plan to work for an agency that receives Medicaid or Medicare. A job with this type of employer will require you to be certified through your state. You can find undergraduate certificates or other non-degree programs at community and vocational colleges or through community and workforce training centers, such as:

  • Santa Barbara City College
  • Black Hawk College
  • Orange Coast College
  • City Colleges of Chicago
  • Fulton-Montgomery Community College
  • Rochester Educational Opportunity Center

What Will I Study in a PCA Program?

A personal care attendant training program typically includes coursework in safety, infection control, and CPR. You can also expect to take such courses as:

  • Medical terminology
  • Foundations of wellness
  • Elder care
  • Vital signs
  • Ethics and legal issues

Will I Need to Be Certified?

Some states do require personal care attendants to be certified. You must pass a competency exam in order to obtain this certification. These exams are administered by state health boards. In some states, you must have completed an educational program, while others require the completion of only an on-the-job training program.

Beyond state regulations, you may also become certified voluntarily through an organization like the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. You can use this certification to prove a nationally-recognized level of competency in the field.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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