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Health Care Aide Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

If you have prior work experience as a Health Care Aide (HCA) and wish to meet provincial HCA certification requirements, you may be eligible to challenge the courses in the Health Care Aide program through a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR).

Obtaining credit for the nine courses in the HCA program involves a high degree of independent study and can take up to 18 months. The process is self-paced and involves taking both lab exams and online theory exams.

PLAR Checklist

1. Apply for the Health Care Aide PLAR Program in-person at the Registrar’s Office on the first floor of our Calgary South Campus. Please bring the following: 2. Upon acceptance, meet with the program coordinator and develop an individualized plan.
3. Complete the PLAR self-assessment checklist.
4. Challenge the HCA courses while taking the mandatory course


The cost of challenging all of the HCA courses is approximately $1,300. Additional expenses will include the textbook (Mosby’s Canadian Textbook for the Support Worker), learning materials, and police information check fees. Learners who do not achieve successful results on the challenge exams will be required to cover the costs of re-taking courses.

Courses in Program

All candidates take the following mandatory course:

Click on the course to view the course description and any prerequisite courses.

HCAD1101 - Working as a Health Care Aide (3 credits, 45 hours) [Online Only]

This course will focus on safety - safety of the client, the health care worker and the work environment in a variety of employment settings. The course provides information that will result in safe care, based on the needs of the client.

Candidates will challenge the following 8 courses:

HCAD1103 - Communication in the Health Care Environment (2 credits, 30 hours)

This course will focus on the roles and responsibilities of a health care aide working in a variety of employment settings, as well as professional communication with other team members, clients and client families. The health care environment requires competent verbal, written and electronic skills. Strategies for overcoming communication barriers caused by disease and aging will be discussed. In addition, the course will provide problem solving strategies and tools to handle conflic.

HCAD1102 - Structure and Function of the Human Body - Health and Chronic Illness (3 credits, 45 hours)

In this course, the twelve systems that make up the human body will be studied and the milestones of growth and development across a lifetime will be discussed. The concepts of healthy aging and maintaining independence will also be addressed. Learners will gain knowledge about the most common chronic conditions the Health Care Aide may encounter and how to provide safe care based on best practices according the client's diagnosis, needs, and care plan.

HCAD1104 - Providing Client Care and Comfort (4 credits, 60 hours)

This course encompasses the skills needed to assist clients with daily grooming, hygiene, bathing, elimination, bed making, and nutritional needs. Learners in this course will learn to support clients to maintain independence and to meet their care needs according to individual care plans. This course is designed to develop confidence and competence while providing basic client care.

HCAD1202 - Meeting Complex Care Needs (3 credits, 45 hours)

The skills introduced in this course are sometimes referred to as advanced skills for health care aides. The opportunity to learn the skills for supporting care activities such as ostomy care, respiratory care, catheter care, tube feeds, and vital signs are taught in this course.

HCAD1203 - Special Activities for Diverse Clients (3 credits, 45 hours)

Health Care Aides may have the opportunity to work with families to provide care for infants and children. Information and skills to assist with these care assignments are included in this course, as are care strategies for assisting other diverse client groups, such as clients with a mental health diagnosis, developmental delays, and physical disabilities. Course information will provide the learner with care strategies to support the client, the client's family, and self through the process of a client's dying and death.

HCAD1201 - Assist with Medication Delivery (1 credit, 15 hours)

This course includes comprehensive materials to train the learner to assist with medication delivery within the scope of practice of the health care aide.

HCAD1301 - Client Care Clinical Experience (4 credits, 120 hours)

This course provides opportunity for the learner to incorporate and demonstrate previously acquired skills in a hands-on setting. For three weeks in an extended care setting, a facilitator supervises and guides the learner in the application of skills and knowledge. If you are taking (not challenging) this course, the following documents must be submitted at least FOUR weeks prior to the start of the course: Police Information Check, proof of immunization status, SCM certificate of completion.

HCAD1999 - Client Care Practicum (2 credits, 80 hours)

This course provides a two-week opportunity for the learner to adapt learned skills to an acute home/community setting under the direct supervision of a preceptor. If you are taking (not challenging) this course, the following documents must be submitted at least FOUR weeks prior to the start of the course: Police Information Check, proof of immunization status, SCM certificate of completion.

Admission Requirements

Academic Requirements

  • Credit in either English 10-1 or 10-2 or equivalent


  • Successful completion of the General Educational Development test (GED) with a standard score of 450 in Language Arts: Reading and Writing


  • Satisfactory results on the BVC Admissions Test  

English Language Proficiency Requirements

Pre-Practicum Requirements

  • A current Police Information Check (PIC) with Vulnerable Sector Search (VSS) must be submitted prior to practicum placements.  The existence of a criminal record may postpone or prevent clinical, practicum, or field work placements and, subsequently, successful completion of the program.
  • Immunization Requirements must be met in order to participate in practicum placements. Details will be provided after being accepted into the program. Up-to-date immunizations are valid for the duration of the program.

Additional Recommendations

  • Basic Life Support CPR is recommended and often required by employers.
  • Applicants must be able to work shifts and weekends, be on their feet for extended periods of time, use their knees, back, and arms to move clients who have minimal body strength and function effectively in stressful situations.