CNA and PCA: Yes, There Is A Difference

CNA and PCA: Yes, There Is A Difference

Navigating the alphabet soup of healthcare can be a daunting task. Most of us know R.N. means Registered Nurse, and M.D. is Medical Doctor. Some even know that a CNA is a Certified Nursing Assistant; however, some home/health care companies are promoting their PCAs as folks that can help you. You may ask, “What is a PCA?

Let’s start with the basics.

Alphabet Soup SOS

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) have mandatory medical training. If we look at the finer details, CNAs must pass state-mandated competency testing on medical concepts that may include wound care1. AARP states, “CNA students must complete the training and pass a state certificate exam and skills test within four months of beginning work at a nursing facility. CNAs must also complete 12 hours of in-service or continuing education each year.”2 There is no training required for a PCA – that’s right, no medical/health care knowledge necessary.3 According to research conducted by PHI National4, “… few states have well-defined training standards for PCAs providing services in these programs, and a significant percentage have no standards at all.”

The Difference between a CNA and a PCA.

Essentially, anyone can use the PCA designation, and promote their services to someone seeking health/home care. PCAs can offer sitter and companionship services; however, the title implies knowledge and training where none exists. CNAs, on the other hand, are tested. At Personal Care Inc., our Aides undergo continuing education courses to maintain their CNA designation. Offering the very best service to our clients, Personal Care Inc. offers CNA-level services. In this way, we know our clients are receiving the very best care possible – from sitters and companions to more complex issues like wound care, blood glucose and blood pressure, or catheter maintenance.

Additionally, a CNA is registered with the Board of Nursing. This means we can check to see if any complaints have been filed against them. PCAs have no governing body, so there is no way to know if there have been problems with the clients they have serve. We believe that alphabet soup should be a delicious dish made from alphabet-shaped pasta to enjoy on a chilly day, not a complex and confusing door to your health care. We encourage you to contact us, and we can assist you in making your home care decision.

1Source: NC Department of Health and Human Services,
2Source: AARP,
3Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics,
4PHI National: Personal Care Aide Training Requirements,

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