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Virginia J Allum

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What do CNAs and HCAs study?
by Virginia J Allum   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, June 07, 2012
Posted: Thursday, June 07, 2012

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Nursing Assistants around the world complete a training course which encompasses topics on the practical care of patients, performing simple nursing tasks and developing writing skills to document the care given.

 Despite having different titles, the sorts of subjects CNAs and HCAs study are fairly standard across the globe. Here is an idea of the topics you will study in your course:  

Example from the USA. California Department of Public Health (CDPH) website at">    


Licensing and Certification Program


Module II:  Patients' Rights 

Module III:  Interpersonal Skills 

Module IV:  Prevention Management of

Catastrophe and Unusual Occurrence 

Module V:  Body Mechanics 

Module VI:  Medical and Surgical Asepsis 

Module VII:  Weights and Measures 

Module VIII:  Patient Care Skills 

Module IX:  Patient Care Procedures 

Module X:  Vital Signs 

Module XI:  Nutrition 

Module XII:  Emergency Procedures 

Module XIII  Long-Term Care Patient 

Module XIV:  Rehabilitative Nursing 

Module XV:  Observation and Charting 

Module XVI:  Death and Dying


An example of HCA training from the RCN  website at   called  ‘First Steps for Health Care Assistants’ . This is an interactive online course available for self study and has to be one of the best courses I have seen for HCAs. It covers every topic needed for HCAs to work within their scope of practice.

Topics covered are: 

Why Communication is important

Communication Methods – non-verbal, verbal, listening, questioning, written communication

Infection Control – chain of infection, hand hygiene, personal protective equipment

Record Keeping – legal issues, principles of record keeping, reporting incidents or accidents

Confidentiality and Consent

Workplace safety and security – safety of others, risk assessment, workplace security

Personal and people development – performance appraisal, personal development planning, learning and development opportunities, lifelong learning,reflection

Quality – principles of nursing practice

Teamwork – valuing your role and others, setting team objectives, team meetings

Accountability and delegation

Care plans and protocols

Equality, diversity and rights – person-centred care, end-of-life care, continence, dementia

Clinical Skills – basic observations (T P R, blood pressure, body mass index, blood sugar testing, peak flow testing  , urine testing, oxygen

Promoting health – health promotion approaches, stages of change model


The Canadian situation is summarised on 'Continuing Care AssistantProgram'  at 

The Health sector

Personal and professional development

Communication and documentation

Environmental safety, personal health and well being

Body mechanics

Household management

Growth and development

Body structure, functions and health related issues 

Personal care

Nutrition and meal preparation

Mental Health and social issues 

Medication Awareness 






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