24–Week Certificate Program

September - March

This program is designed to provide students with the theory and skills required to become a caregiver. The major focus is in providing care for people experiencing changes in their functional abilities. Enriched with Aboriginal ways of knowing and being, this program will enhance the students' ability to provide cultural safety and person centred care to all. This program is offered full-time.

The Health Care Assistant (HCA) program is a 24-week full time program. You will experience classroom teaching, discussions, hands on experience in the nursing lab, as well as a variety of clinical settings. The learning environment enables students to learn to become a vital part of the interdisciplinary health care team. As of February 2016 we have implemented the revised 2015 BC Health Care Assistant Curriculum which now includes an acute care component. The program is being offered at three campuses – Nanaimo, Cowichan and tiwšɛmawtxʷ (Powell River). Graduates of the Health Care Assistant program at VIU are eligible for registration with the BC Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry.

The BC Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry reviews and recognizes HCA programs in BC to ensure that they are: following the provincial curriculum, implementing a common set of training standards, and graduating competent front-line health care providers.

Career Opportunities

The program prepares students for employment in complex care facilities, extended care units, home support agencies and residential settings. Graduates will work primarily with older adults.

Admission Requirements

Notes on Admission

The following documents are required by the first day of classes.

  • Fieldwork, practicums, or clinical practice will require a satisfactory criminal record check prior to placement. The Registration Centre at VIU will contact prospective students regarding the Criminal Record Check. Criminal Record Checks are processed through the Ministry according to the Criminal Records Review Act. A check completed through the RCMP is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the Act. The current fee for a Criminal Record Check is $45.
  • A completed Immunization Requirements Form
  • Proof of WHMIS training
  • Foodsafe Level I certificate
  • Standard First Aid certificate is required (that includes CPR Level "C")
  • Students will be required to complete physically demanding tasks within a variety of work spaces

Recommended Personal Characteristics

Before applying for this program, students should learn as much as possible about this career. We encourage students to volunteer in a health care facility to familiarize themselves with the role of the Health Care Assistant. The following traits are critical for student success:

  • sensitivity to the needs of others
  • ability to move freely in confined spaces
  • ability to speak confidently with people of all ages
  • ability to pay close attention to detail
  • ability to work quickly with accuracy and efficiency
  • ability to manage time effectively and handle responsibility
  • ability to problem-solve effectively in a limited time span
  • excellent oral and personal hygiene
  • willingness to show commitment to program by regular attendance
  • ability to be punctual on a consistent basis
  • ability to participate in own learning by displaying preparedness for class and clinical settings
  • ability to perform basic home management and cooking skills

Start Date and Application Deadline

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. Usual start dates for the Nanaimo campus are September and February. Start dates may vary at the Cowichan and tiwšɛmawtxʷ campuses. For further information regarding intake dates and program contacts check the Start Date and Application Deadline.

Program Outline

Phase I*


HCAS 101T - (Health: Interpersonal Communications)


HCAS 102T - (Health: Lifestyle and Choices)


HCAS 103T - (Health Care Assistant: Introduction to Practice)


HCAS 104T - (Health and Healing: Concepts of Growth and Development)


HCAS 105T - (Healing: Common Health Challenges)


HCAS 106T - (Healing: Cognitive or Mental Challenges)


HCAS 107T - (Healing: Personal Care and Assistance)


Phase II**


HCAS 121T - (Practice Experience in Multi-Level and/or Complex Care)


Phase III


HCAS 131T - (Practice Experience in Home Support and/or Assisted Living)


Total Credits


* Phase I courses must be successfully completed prior to starting Phase II.
** Phase II course must be successfully completed prior to starting Phase III.


Fee typeCost
Student Fees$343.26
Grad Fee$56.28
Criminal Record Check Fee - (approximately)$45.00
Application Fee$43.40

Financial Assistance

Financial Assistance may be available to students demonstrating financial need. This program is government student loan eligible. Applications for the academic year are available each May at any post-secondary institution, or online at StudentAidBC.

More information is available from the Advisors at the University. Please call to make an appointment, 604.485.2878.