Health Care Assistant Certificate

Experience the rewards of working in a caring profession, supporting older adults and vulnerable members of society as part of a dynamic health care team. As a graduate, you will be qualified to work as a frontline care provider in a variety of settings, including adult day programs, group homes, community care, residential care facilities or acute care hospitals.

Dual credit options are available, speak to a recruiter for more details. 


 This program is currently not available to international applicants.
Where: Campbell River, Comox Valley, Port Alberni, Ucluelet
Starts: See schedule tab
Length: CV: 7 months, PA: 1 year
Delivery: On-campus and Digital (Blended)

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I started looking at NIC because it’s close to home, but it was the knowledgeable team of instructors and smaller class sizes that made me want to study here. NIC has so much to offer, it really feels like you are a part of a community being a student here.

Kira Cranna, NIC Heath Care Assistant certificate grad 

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Program Requirements

  • HCA-100 Health and Healing: Concepts for Practice
  • HCA-105 Health I: Interpersonal Communications
  • HCA-110 Health 2: Lifestyle and Choices
  • HCA-115 Healing I: Caring for Individuals Experiencing Common Health Challenges
  • HCA-120 Healing 3: Personal Care and Assistance
  • HCA-125 Healing 2: Caring for Individuals Experiencing Cognitive or Mental Challenges
  • HCA-130 Work Role: Introduction to HCA 

Includes a minimum of 270 hours of clinical practice experience:

Completion Requirements

  1. The HCA certificate must be completed within 2 years of admission to the program.
  2. To successfully complete the program, students must achieve a C or better in each course.
  3. Successful completion of the appropriate HCA theory courses is required to progress into the practice experience.
  4. A student who has failed a course, re-entered the program, repeated it and passed, and then fails another course will be removed entirely from the program and can only re-enter by going through the admission process and beginning at Term 1.
    Re-entering the program is dependent on an available seat and at the discretion of the health care assistant department and in consultation with the Dean. Students who fail a required course may be asked to complete a learning assessment prior to being considered for re-admission. These regulations are important to ensure that graduates have the required skills and knowledge and are therefore deemed safe to practice.
  5. Students are required to adhere to program professional conduct requirements as outlined in the HCA program manual. Failure to adhere to these program expectations may result in the student being required to leave the program.

Admission Requirements

A) To be accepted into a recognized BC HCA program, applicants are required to demonstrate proficiency in English. Please complete the following Declaration of English Language Competency Requirements for Health Care Assistant form

B) Completed HCA Intake Package. Carefully read the Health and Program Information Bulletins. Prospective students must review these bulletins and decide whether they believe the HCA program is suited to them. Prospective students who have questions or concerns should contact an educational advisor.

Applicants whose first language is English

Applicants must provide proof of education in an English-speaking environment (a country with English language systems/institutions) for a minimum of seven years or have been educated in an English-speaking environment for four consecutive years at the secondary or post- secondary level, and submit proof of one of the following:

C+ in one of Provincial English 11, Composition 11, Creative Writing 11, Literary Studies 11, New Media 11, Spoken Language 11, English First Peoples Literary Studies & Writing 11, English First Peoples Literary Studies & New Media 11, English First Peoples Literary Studies & Spoken Language 11, NIC ENG-052, or assessment testing

Applicants whose first language is not English

Applicants who have not been educated in an English speaking environment (a country with English language systems/institutions or who have been educated in an English speaking environment for less than seven years, must submit proof of one of the following:

  1. Canadian Language Benchmark Placement Test (CLBPT): test must be within the last six months: scores as follows: Listening 7, Speaking 7, Reading 6, and Writing 6.
  2. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): test must be within the last two years, IBT only. Overall score of 76 with no score lower than 20 in Speaking and Listening and no score lower than 18 in Reading and Writing.
  3. International English Language Testing System (IELTS): Academic or General—test must be within the last two years: Overall score of 6 with a minimum of 6 in Speaking and Listening and no score lower than 5.5 in Reading and Writing.
  4. Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) Test must be within the last two years. Academic or General – Aggregate score of 4L or better, with 4L or better in Speaking and Listening and 3H or better in Reading and Writing.
  5. Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CSEL): Test must be within the last two years. Overall score of 60, with no section less than 50.

Priority Admission for Aboriginal Applicants

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has provided Special Program approval to allow priority admission for a selected number of self-declared Aboriginal applicants to this program beginning in September 2013. For more information please refer to NIC's Aboriginal Education Services program page (, or contact an Aboriginal Advisor at your local campus.


Upgrade with us to meet prerequisites

Upgrade your English, math and science courses for entry into the program of your choice. Succeed with the help of NIC’s supportive instructors. Courses are flexible and start several times a year so you can learn at your own pace. We offer daytime and evening options. Learn more

Before Classes Begin

Once accepted to the program but before classes begin, you will be required to:
  • hold a current Standard First Aid with CPR C certificate (FAC-021)
Note: If taken at an institution other than North Island College, it is the student's responsibility to ensure compatibility of courses between institutions. Please consult a NIC educational advisor for information on course compatibility with other institutions.
  • Submit a Criminal Record Check form, which will be sent to you by Admissions once you are offered a seat in the program.
  • Submit a completed immunization form, which will be sent to you by Admissions once you are offered a seat in the program. This form should be validated by the public health nurse at your local health unit and must be presented to the Health Care Assistant program faculty on the first day of classes. 
  • Hold a Food Safe Level 1 certificate (TFS-010)
You must provide proof of completion of the above to the Health Care Assistant faculty on the first day of class.

Transfer Credit & Credit For Prior Learning

Your previous life, work, or study experience, unassociated with formal education, may qualify for Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR). Your knowledge and skills will be evaluated to determine if you meet the objectives for selected courses up to a maximum of 50 per cent of the program. To qualify for PLAR, you must apply to the program, meet all the program requirements, and complete the PLAR before entering the program or one term before the scheduled course(s). The fee for each PLAR course is 75 per cent of the regular course fee. Refer to NIC policy #4-10: Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

When an applicant meets some, but not all, learning objectives in a course(s), the assessment process may result in an exemption from some portion of the course(s). You will be required to register in the course and pay full tuition but your workload would be reduced. Note that eligibility for this process will be granted on an individual basis by the department. You must apply one semester in advance of the course start date. 
For information about which courses qualify for PLAR please contact the department chair in your program.

To Be Successful

  • Basic computer literacy and internet access are necessary. You must access all course manuals via Blackboard Learn, the college’s on-line learning platform, and use computer skills to access resources during coursework. Electronic documentation is also used in the practice setting. You are expected to have the ability to:
    • navigate the internet and access online resources
    • create word documents,
    • attach word documents to emails and submit assignments via email.
  • A valid driver's license and access to personal transport is strongly recommended for the HCA-145 Home Support Practicum and other practice experience components. If you are not able to provide your own transport, you may have difficulty meeting the requirements of these clinical practice courses.
  • It is an expectation of the Health Care Assistant program that you demonstrate responsible, accountable behaviour in terms of maintaining a pattern of regular attendance and establishing effective working relationships with student colleagues and faculty. You are required to adhere to all college policies and regulations.


Accessible Learning

Making education accessible for those with a documented disability is a key priority for NIC. We offer a wide range of services, supports and resources for students. For more information visit: Accessible Learning Services.

Marie-France Paquet-Combe

Marie-France Paquet-Combe
Comox Valley Campus 250-334-5000 ext. 4212 | Location VLG - K1

Janie Roelants

Janie Roelants

Donna Wedman

Donna Wedman

Department Chair, Faculty

Health Care Assistant

Bachelor of Nursing  (University of Calgary 1992)

Subjects: Health Care Assistant
Comox Valley Campus 250-334-5000 ext. 4213 | Location HHS - 116
Campbell River Campus 250-923-9700

Program Highlights

NIC's Health Care Assistant certificate gives you the knowledge, skills and understanding to provide frontline personal care and service to individuals unable to care for themselves. As a respected member of a health care team, you will provide hands-on support while receiving direction and supervision from licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and other health professionals.

You will participate in a range of classroom activities and practice experiences. Working collaboratively with your peers and your instructor, you will master essential critical thinking, problem solving and decision making skills. 

The classroom is seen as a microcosm of the workplace where your commitment to personal participation, punctuality and responsibility will carry you effectively into the work force. Classes may be scheduled during the day, in the evening and/or on weekends.

Clinical practice experiences occur outside of the college setting. You will have two clinical courses in residential/complex care, where you will refine your ability to care for clients in a respectful, safe, competent and organized manner. During the community component of your practice experience, you will participate in community home support services that are designed to meet the health needs of older adults and others.

Recent updates were made to the HCA Provincial Curriculum and the 2015 provincial curriculum will be implemented September 2016. This ensures that you receive the most relevant, up-to-date curriculum to prepare you for your career.

Upon graduation, you will qualify for registration with BC Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry. You will be able to competently carry out the roles and responsibilities of a health care assistant in the community or in care facilities; a role that is in high demand across the health sector.

Career Opportunities

Upon completion of the program, graduates are qualified to work in a variety of settings. Health care assistants work in community home support agencies, complex care and assisted living facilities, group homes and adult day programs. Program graduates continue to be in high demand.

Practice Experience

Student practice experiences in health agencies are essential to the program.

You will be placed in complex care facilities that provide residential care and support for a primarily older adult population. In community settings you will provide services and supports to adults living in their own homes. The majority of practice placements are in centres close to NIC campus communities, however it may be necessary to participate in placements in other Vancouver Island communities. You must arrange your own transportation and assume related costs. You may be required to work a variety of shifts; four, six eight and/or 12 hours shifts, including days, evenings, nights, weekends and holidays.

Tuition & Costs Estimate

Additional fees may also include necessary equipment, supplies, NIC appointed uniforms, or field trips not included in these estimates.

While we do our best to share accurate and timely fee information, changes may occur. For more information, visit our tuition page.

Domestic Fees

Tuition $3,086
NISU Fees $133
Lab Fees $15
Books $300
Learner Resource $163
Health and Dental $275
Total $3,972

Full-time students are automatically enrolled in the mandatory Health and Dental Benefit plan ($275).

Book costs noted are estimates for planning purposes.  Accurate book costs are available by course through the NIC book search.

Find out if this program is eligible for Student Aid BC funding.

This program is tuition refund Category 1.



Campbell River

  • Sept 14, 2020
  • Feb 8, 2021

Comox Valley

  • Aug 31, 2020
  • Oct 31, 2020
  • Jan 4, 2021

Port Alberni

  • Sept 15, 2020