person helping elderly woman with a walker.

Nursing Assistant (CNA)

The Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) course provides you with the knowledge, skills and behaviors necessary to perform basic patient care in a variety of healthcare settings, and to be a nursing assistant under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).

This course meets the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) guidelines for the Basic Nursing Assistant Training Program (BNATP) curriculum and is highly recommended for students interested in a nursing career or an entry-level position in the healthcare field. Coursework includes learning 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're added to the Healthcare Worker Registry, and then can be employed as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).



Students who complete the Certified Nursing Assistant course should consider other programs:

Medical Assisting

Practical Nursing — LPN

Associate Degree Nursing — RN

EMS — Paramedic

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

Program Informational Session

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

Drug Screen

A negative 10-panel drug screen is required before the start of the course.


A high school transcript with completion of Freshman English (C or higher) OR College placement exam equivalent to English 095 (C or higher).

No general education courses are required.

Background check

In accordance with the Health Care Worker Background Check Act, all students applying for the Basic Nursing Assistant course/program must complete a LiveScan criminal background check prior to the start of the course/program 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 by 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. You may visit the website at IDPH/Disconvictions to see the disqualifying convictions.

Waivers must be obtained before enrolling in the program. A waiver can be obtained through IDPH home page 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

Individuals must meet 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.

  • Have 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 the individual has met the training requirements.
  • Prior to any direct contact with a resident, 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 since January 1996).
  • Pass a manual skills test.

TB test (Mantoux)

You're 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 in the form to the Department of Health Professions in person or mail it to the address given in the letter you'll 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 the requirements for entry.

Although the COVID-19 vaccination is not an admission requirement, most clinical sites require vaccination against COVID-19. Check with your program coordinator for more details.

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 don't complete the CPR class when scheduled.

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 nursing 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% between 2018 and 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

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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Sample schedule for certified nursing assistant program

View a sample schedule for the certified nursing assistant program.

The basic nursing assistant 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.



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, it is highly recommended that students have access to a reliable computer with broadband 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.

Click here for a list of the class formats.

Estimated cost

Certified Nursing Assistant Estimated Cost

The CNA class does not qualify for financial aid if taken outside of a program.


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 may apply between October 1 and March 15 for the upcoming year.

  1. Be able to apply principles of infection control, safety and resident rights while performing the essential basic nursing skills in the healthcare setting.
  2. Be able to demonstrate technical proficiency in all skills necessary to fulfill the role of nursing assistant.
  3. Use accurate and appropriate communication with members of the healthcare team.
  4. Employ ethical and moral behaviors and the characteristics of honesty, responsibility and caring in the provision of patient/resident care.
  5. Distinguish age-related changes from normal functioning of the body systems.
  6. Conduct themselves in a professional manner and comply with all requirements with their scope of practice.


I completed the CNA in another state; how do I get my certificate transferred to Illinois? 

Visit the nurse aid testing webpage, 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? 

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

The Carl Sandburg College Basic Nursing Assistant Training Program meets the education requirements to be eligible for certification as a certified nursing assistant in the State of Illinois. If certification is sought in any other state, please contact that state regulatory body.

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. Visit their website for more information, including:

  • 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


Postsecondary institutions participating in federal student aid programs are required to make certain disclosures to enrolled and prospective students, parents, employees and the public. The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (34 §C.F.R. 668.43) requires disclosures by institutions regarding educational requirements for programs leading to professional licensure or certification regardless of modality. The institution must make readily available to enrolled and prospective students information about whether programs leading to professional licensure or certification meet educational requirements.

Click here to view licensure information by state for dental hygiene, medical imaging programs, medical assisting, and mortuary science. 

Click here to view licensure information for nursing programs. 

If Sandburg College has not determined whether a program meets the educational requirements for licensure or certification outside the state of Illinois, you should contact the licensing entity to determine whether it meets the educational requirements for licensure or certification in the state you live or work. 

You may contact the Dean of Nursing with questions: 

Emily J Schaeffer, D.N.P., R.N.
Dean of Nursing Professions
2400 Tom L Wilson Blvd
Galesburg, IL 61401

Emily Schaeffer, DNP, MSN RN
Dean of Nursing Professions
Coordinator, Basic Nursing Assistant Program

Tina Braun-Smith, MSN RN
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Galesburg

Susan Buck, MSN, RN
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Galesburg

Malena Lopez, RN
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Galesburg

Angela Schamberger, RN
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Carthage

Mattie Scott, RN
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Galesburg

Christina Stone MSN, RN,
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Galesburg

Debra Florio, RN
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Galesburg

Paul Fecht, MSN, RN
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Galesburg

Kristen Doyle, RN
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Carthage

Cathy Gebru, RN, CMA
Nursing Assistant Instructor - Galesburg


An instructor must be a registered nurse who has been approved by the department. Instructors must have two years of experience as a registered nurse and one year experience in caring for the chronically ill, the elderly or in the provision of long-term care services. Instructors must also have experience teaching adults, take a course in teaching adults, or have experience in supervising nurse aides/assistants.
An instructor with an associate degree will need to take a train-the-trainer course. If a registered nurse meets the qualifications, then they can sign up for a train-the-trainer course by visiting 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. The train-the-trainer course may be taken face-to-face or online. The other portion of the training is completing the evaluator workshop, which is completed in a face-to-face format.
A registered nurse that meets the qualifications with a BSN or higher degree does not necessarily need to take the train-the-trainer course. The registered nurse would need to complete four hours of CEUs in Alzheimer's and related dementia, and submit the completed certificate(s) and a resume to the program coordinator to obtain instructor approval from IDPH.


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

Nursing Assistant Program Outcomes


Mean percentage: 76.8%
State competency exam pass rate: 85%
Completion rate: 83.3%

Mean percentage: 80.27%
State competency exam pass rate: 88.89%
Completion rate: 72%

Mean percentage: 71.6%
State competency exam pass rate: 71.4%
Completion rate: 100%

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


Mean percentage: 77.56%
State competency exam pass rate: 83.33%
Completion rate: 82.6%

Mean percentage: 79.14%
State competency exam pass rate: 92.86%
Completion rate: 55.6%

Mean percentage: 77.56%
State competency exam pass rate: 83.33%
Completion rate: 100%

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