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Health Care Aide Certificate (Part-Time) Frequently Asked Questions

Program Overview

Q: How is the Health Care Aide Certificate (Part-Time) program structured? The program has a blended delivery structure. The blended delivery option allows you to complete the theory components of the courses online and the lab and workshop components on campus. Almost every course includes a lab component.

Q: How long does the program take? All components of the program must be completed within 18 months. Students in this program have a maximum of 4 months to complete each course, but can register for new courses every 2 months.  It is recommended that students take 2 courses at a time.  The more courses a student takes at one time, the faster he/she can finish the program. 

Q: What is the schedule like? Students will need to attend labs/workshops on campus roughly 5 times a month, depending on their course load. The clinical component is full-time for 5 weeks (3 weeks of instructor-led clinical, plus 2 weeks of preceptored experience).

Q: How much time commitment is involved? The program requires discipline and initiative, and the ability to learn independently. This is a good option for learners looking for more flexibility in their program. Time commitment varies greatly depending on course load and individual study habits. Students are encouraged to start with 2 courses per semester - increasing the course load after only if the student can successfully handle 2 courses.

Q: Can I complete the entire program from another city without coming to the Calgary campus? Labs and workshops are on-campus and students will likely need to be in Calgary for the 5 weeks of clinical. If you live near Calgary, this program may work for you, but if you are more than 2 hours away we recommend looking into alternative options in closer cities.

Q: Can I complete the program from another province? It would be very difficult for students living in another province to complete Bow Valley College's Health Care Aide (part-time) program. Students will need to be in Calgary for labs and clinical. It will be expensive and difficult to commute. In addition, each province has different hiring requirements and an Alberta Health Care Aide certificate may not be recognized by another province.

Q: Can I choose where I complete my clinical? Is there flexibility in the schedule? You may make a suggestion, but we do not guarantee that we will be able to accommodate it. The College must maintain a certain instructor-to-student ratio for the placements and preceptorships (for example, 1 instructor per 8 students in long-term care). Placements are set up based on availability and students must be flexible regarding the location and scheduling of the clinical placement. Students are expected to treat the clinical like a job, and learners may be required to travel to various locations in Southern Alberta.

Q: Can I transfer into a Practical Nurse program after completing this program? Graduates of a provincially-recognized Health Care Aide program may qualify for advanced credit in the Practical Nurse diploma program. To be considered for transfer credit, students must have completed the Health Care Aide Certificate program and must have completed 1,900 hours of work experience as a recognized Health Care Aide. Graduates of the Health Care Aide Certificate program may be eligible to receive credit for 3 nursing courses. For more information, visit the Transfer Credit page.

Q: How much will textbooks cost? Book lists and costs can be found on the Bookstore webpages.


Q: Will my certificate be recognized by employers? The Bow Valley College Health Care Aide program follows the Alberta government curriculum set by Alberta Health. Graduates of this program receive a certificate from Bow Valley College and Alberta Health. Bow Valley College has an excellent reputation with the provincial government and employers, and our graduates are preferred when applying for Alberta government jobs because they are work-ready.

Q: What is the job market like? Health Care Aides are currently in high demand. For the employment outlook for this profession, visit the Alberta government's Alberta Occupational Profile (OCCinfo) page.

Other Application and Admissions Questions

For information on general application and admissions processes, visit the General FAQ page or contact the Student Advising Centre (formerly the Prospective Student Centre) at 403-410-1402.