Program overview

Whatcom’s nursing assistant program consists of lecture courses and labs offered in the evenings on campus and clinical experiences at long-term care facilities on the weekends.

Students successfully completing the program will be eligible to take the state certification exam to perform bedside care as an NAC (nursing assistant certified). If Whatcom’s class schedule does not work for you, there are other local providers offering the course. Visit the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services website for more information.

Nursing assistant certification is a requirement for application to the RN nursing program at WCC.

Nursing assistant core course

NURS 100 - Nursing Assistant

8 credits
Description: This comprehensive training course prepares students to take the state Nursing Assistant Certification exam, and provides awareness of the role of the nursing assistant in nursing care. The certification exam and the exam fee are not included in this course. A background check and TST (Tuberculin Skin Test) are required for clinicals.

Acute care specialization courses

NURS 138 - NAC Acute Care I

2 credits / 22 hours
Description: This is the first part of a two-part series to enhance NAC training. The focus is on the acute care practice setting. This course includes topics on prioritizing safety, fall prevention / reduction, wound prevention, and infection control.

NURS 139 - NAC Acute Care II

2 credits / 22 hours
Description: The second part of a two-part series to enhance NAC training. The focus in on the acute care practice setting. This course includes topics on professionalism, communication and teamwork, conflict management, and terminology in acute care.

HLTH 193 - Care of Older Adults in Acute Care

3 credits / 33 hours
Description: This hybrid course will explore the care of the older adult in the acute care setting. An overview of the aging process and effects will be discussed. Topics will focus on reducing functional decline, physical care, safety, dementia issues, and common acute diagnoses of the elderly hospitalized patient.

HLTH 194 - Behavioral Health in Acute Care

3 credits / 33 hours
Description: This hybrid course explores the care of patients with behavioral health needs in the acute care setting. An overview of mental health and substance use disorders are presented. Topics include mental illness, substance use disorders, managing difficult behaviors, discussion of adverse childhood experiences and trauma informed care, and techniques of verbal deescalation.

Examination preparation course

NURS 136 - NAC Skills Exam Prep

1 credit / 11 hours
Description: A lab course in which the NAC training program completer can practice the 22 practical skills required to obtain certification in Washington state.

Study option: I-BEST

Whatcom offers Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) for students who want to train for a nursing assistant career while also working on basic math and English skills at the same time.

In I-BEST classes, students have two instructors in the classroom: one to teach career content and one to support the development of basic skills. This way, students are able to learn faster and go further.

Students must have Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS) test scores in a certain range to qualify for the IBEST program. The CASAS test can be taken on Whatcom's campus. Contact the Adult Basic Education / English as a Second Language (ABE/ESL) office at 360.383.3060 for more information.

If you think you are interested in the I-BEST program or would like more information email Entry & Advising or call 360.383.3080.

Age-related considerations

Students under the age of 18 may enroll in NURS 100 - Nursing Assistant. In order to work as a nursing assistant - certified (NAC), students must be at least 16 years of age. NAC's under the age of 17 will be restricted to working in certain environments for limited hours, especially when also attending school. These students may also have difficulty finding local employment. Historically, facilities which employ NAC's strongly prefer hiring people age 18 and over, due to these limitations on duties and work hours. Also, hospitals have been especially unlikely to hire anyone under 18 as an NAC.