person with a hypodermic needle filling the syringe.

Healthcare Assistant

The Healthcare Assistant certificate provides you with the knowledge, skills and behaviors necessary to perform basic patient care in a variety of healthcare settings. It prepares you to function in the role of a nursing assistant under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).

The certificate meets the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) guidelines for the Basic Nursing Assistant Training Program (BNATP) curriculum. This course is highly recommended for students interested in a nursing career or an entry-level position in the healthcare field. Coursework includes the development of basic nursing skills through lectures, simulation skills laboratory and supervised clinical experiences at a long-term healthcare facility.

After you successfully complete the Basic Nursing Assistant Training Program (BNATP), you are eligible to take the State Nursing Aide Competency Exam. Upon passing the Nurse Aide Competency Examination, you are added to the Healthcare Worker Registry, and then can be employed as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).



Students who complete the Healthcare Assistant certificate should consider other programs:

Patient care technician

Medical assistant

Phlebotomy technician

EMS — Paramedic

Licensed Practical Nursing — LPN

Associate Degree Nursing — RN

Admission requirements

This is an open-enrollment certificate. Please see the admissions requirements listed below.


There is a required two-hour orientation for the face-to-face CNA course, and a four-hour orientation for the CNA blended/hybrid course. This required orientation is held approximately two to four weeks prior to the start of the course. You will be notified of the orientation date and time when registering for the course.

Background check

In accordance with the Health Care Worker Background Check Act, everyone enrolling in the Basic Nursing Assistant (CNA) course must complete a LiveScan criminal background check prior to the start of the course by a designated agent and at a designated time as determined by the Department of Health Professions. Arrangements will be made by the Department of Health Professions personnel to have the LiveScan fingerprinting completed.

You will be notified in writing at least two weeks prior to the date for the LiveScan to be completed.

If you do not complete the background check during the designated time, you will be dropped from the program for noncompliance with the requirements.

Disqualifying convictions

Individuals with disqualifying convictions, as listed in the Act, are prohibited from working for a healthcare employer unless a waiver has been granted by the Department of Public Health. Disqualifying convictions are in accordance with the Health Care Worker Background Check Act (225 ILCS 46) and 77 ILL Adm. Code 955 Section 955.160. A student may visit the IDPH website to see the disqualifying convictions.

Waivers must be obtained before enrolling in the program. A waiver can be obtained through IDPH or by contacting IDPH for further information:

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, IL 62761
p: 217.785.5133
f: 217.524.0137

State and federal requirements

You must meet the following prior to being listed on the registry as an Illinois CNA or prior to working as an Illinois CNA in a licensed long-term care facility.

  • Complete a criminal history records check as prescribed by the Health Care Worker Background Check Act with no disqualifying convictions.
  • Have no administrative finding of abuse, neglect, or misappropriated property in Illinois or any other state.
  • Must be at least 16 years of age, of temperate habits and good moral character, honest, reliable and trustworthy.
  • Must be able to speak and understand English or a language understood by a substantial percentage of a facility’s residents.
  • Must provide evidence of prior employment or occupation, if any, and residence for two years prior to present employment as a nursing assistant.
  • Must have completed at least eight years of grade school or provide proof of equivalent knowledge.
  • Must not work as an Illinois CNA until the registry shows you have met the training requirements.
  • Prior to any direct contact with a resident, you must complete a specified 16 hours of classroom training in a state-approved CNA training program.
  • Nursing assistant students should not perform any duties for which they have not been trained and found to be proficient by an instructor.
  • Students providing services to residents must do so under the general supervision of a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse.
  • Successfully complete an Illinois-approved CNA training program.
  • Pass a written competency test (a requirement to be a CNA since January 1996.
  • Pass a manual skills test.

TB test (Mantoux)

All students are required to have a two-step TB (Mantoux) test prior to the start of class. Please allow time for both steps, as there must be a seven- to 14-day waiting period between tests. Please turn this form into the Department of Health Professions in person or mail it to the address given in the letter you will receive prior to the start of the course. Without the form, you will not be able to enter the course/program due to noncompliance with requirements for entry.

Healthcare provider CPR

All students are required to demonstrate the completion of CPR at the healthcare provider level. A CPR class will be scheduled during the semester of the course. This is mandatory and part of the eight semester hours of the course. You will be dropped for noncompliance with requirements if you do not complete the CPR class when scheduled.

Career and technical programs/courses are offered without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or status in any group protected by applicable federal, state or local law. For more information, contact the Title IX coordinator at 309.341.5258 or the ADA/504 coordinator at 309.341.5262.

If you are unable to participate in and/or complete the clinical/practicum/internship courses required for the program due to a positive drug test, which includes marijuana, you are not eligible for a refund of any tuition, fees or other expenses incurred while preparing for admission into the program and while enrolled in the program.

For additional information contact:
Welcome Center


Earnings for nursing assistants vary depending on experience, employer, location and education. Nursing assistants typically earn between $10 and $16 an hour. The median wage for nurse assistants across the country is around $12 an hour. The demand has increased in the past five years for CNAs and is projected to increase by 9% in 2018-2028 with care being provided to the baby boomer generation and the same generation retiring. A CNA has the opportunity to work in long-term care, acute care, home health, hospice and private duty.

Certified nursing assistant (CNA)

Working conditions

Nursing assistants provide personal care to patients under the supervision of nurses. The type of care provided varies depending on the needs of the patient/resident. In some cases, patients/residents may be too ill or weak to perform necessary physical activities by themselves. For example, nursing assistants might help patients with eating and drinking at mealtimes or with personal grooming activities such as dressing, bathing, shaving and brushing their teeth. Some patients have problems with mobility, and nursing assistants help them sit up, turn over, get out of bed or walk.

Nursing assistants also monitor patient vital signs, including temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respiration. They may also help nurses and doctors care for patients by setting up equipment, disinfecting instruments/equipment and stocking supplies. Other common tasks include changing bed linens, keeping patient/resident rooms tidy and delivering meals.

A large part of the nursing assistant’s job involves providing patients/residents with company and encouragement. Patients/residents can feel depressed or lonely, and nursing assistants may simply spend time chatting with them, listening to them and helping to raise their spirits. This type of emotional support can go a long way towards helping a patient feel better.

A CNA will be able to work full time, part time or PRN (as needed) for eight- or 12-hour shifts. A CNA will be on their feet most of the shift providing basic care with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as dressing, bathing, toileting, personal hygiene, transfers, ambulating, feeding, etc.


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Learn more.

View a sample schedule for Health Care Assistant.

The CNA course is offered in a face-to-face format and a blended/hybrid format. The blended/hybrid format consists of online theory and face-to-face lab and clinical.

CNA sample schedule


Sandburg offers courses in a variety of formats to best fit the needs of our students. To determine the formats for specific courses, please refer to our course schedule.

Regardless of the course format, you should have access to a reliable computer with broadband (high-speed) internet. All courses use online resources and require students to access course information through mySandburg. Accessing courses through a phone is discouraged. Both campuses have open computer labs for student use.

View class formats.

Please contact the Welcome Center for this program for the estimated costs.


To apply for financial aid, visit our financial aid page for more information.


Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) helps job seekers access employment, education, training and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. Contact the local office to see if you qualify for financial support. 

  • Hancock County | 550 N. Madison St. | Carthage, IL | 217.357.6749      
  • Warren/Henderson County |1025 S. 2nd St | Monmouth, IL | 309.734.4745
  • Knox County Bondi Building | 311 E. Main, Suite 612 | Galesburg, IL | 309.343.9832               
  • McDonough County | 440 N. Lafayette | Macomb, IL | 309.837.1280


Thanks to our generous donors, the Carl Sandburg College Foundation is able to award more than $100,000 each year in scholarship dollars to Sandburg students. High school, adult learners and returning students are eligible to apply between October 1 and March 15 for the upcoming year. 


I completed the CNA in another state; how do I go about getting my license transferred to Illinois? 

Please visit the nurse aid testing website, and click on the header of Paths to CNA at the top of the page, then click Out-of-State CNA Application.


It’s been five years since I completed the class; do I have to repeat the course, or can I  just sit for the exam? 

Please visit the nurse aid testing website and click on the header of Paths to CNA at the top of the page, then click the Recertification Process.


The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is the regulating agency for Basic Nursing Assistant Training Programs. IDPH may be contacted as follows:

Illinois Department of Public Health
Nurse Aide Registry Information
525 W. Jefferson St.
Springfield, IL 62761

Southern Illinois University of Carbondale (SIUC) is contracted to manage and administer the Nursing Assistant state exam. SIUC has developed a website for students, faculty and administrators seeking information.

The site offers students:

  • Access to an online practice exam
  • Access to information regarding testing locations and dates
  • Access to skills video (covers all the manual skills required for certification)
  • Exam status
  • Registration for the state exam

Stacy Bainter, MSN, RN
Coordinator, Basic Nursing Assistant Program
Nursing Assistant Instructor

Tina Braun-Smith, MSN RN
Instructor, Nursing 

Susan Buck, MSN, RN
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Galesburg

Melissa Downs, BSN, RN
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Galesburg

Sarah Fligge, RN
Nursing Assistant Instructor- Carthage

Malena Lopez, RN
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Galesburg

Angela Schamberger, RN
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Carthage

Mattie Scott, RN
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Galesburg

Loretta Surratt, RN
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Galesburg


Department of Health Professions
2400 Tom L. Wilson Blvd.
Galesburg, IL 61401

Becoming a basic nursing assistant instructor

Each course instructor is a registered nurse with a minimum of two years nursing experience, who has no other duties while engaged in the training program. An instructor is required to have one year of experience as a registered nurse in one or both of the following areas:

  • Teaching an accredited nurse's training program.
  • Caring for the elderly or for the chronically ill of any age through employment in a nursing facility, extended care unit, geriatrics department, chronic care unit, hospice, swing bed unit of a hospital or other long-term care settings.

If a registered nurse meets the qualifications, then they can sign up for a train-the-trainer course by visiting Simply click on the heading of courses, and select a course to take. A registered nurse has to meet the qualifications to be able to take a train-the-trainer course face-to-face or online. The other portion of the training is completing the evaluator workshop in a face-to-face format.

Nursing Assistant Program outcomes


Mean percentage: 78.1%
State competency exam pass rate: 90%
Completion rate: 82.8%

Mean percentage: 80.9%
State competency exam pass rate: 96.8%
Completion rate: 80%

Mean percentage: 82.81%
State competency exam pass rate: 90.18%
Completion rate: 91.4%

Mean percentage: 82.3%
State competency exam pass rate: N/A
Completion rate: 78.2%


Mean percentage: 78.8%
State competency exam pass rate: 81%
Completion rate: 84%

Mean percentage: 77.3%
State competency exam pass rate: 100%
Completion rate: 90%