Career Paths for Caregivers: Nurse Delegation, NAC, and Beyond

Last updated on May 30th, 2024 at 07:55 pm

As the population ages, job opportunities for caregivers are expected to rapidly increase. 2020 is a great time to get into this growing field and pursue specialized training opportunities that set you up for long-term success.

As an HCA-C (home care aide-certified), you can enroll in continuing education to become a specialist, train as a nursing assistant (NAC), and pursue additional opportunities. The jobs below are just a small sample of the nursing and caregiving career potential.

Home Care Aide-Certified (HCA-C)

Many people in Washington State begin their caregiving career as an HCA-C, or home care aide (certified). This job involves performing a wide range of care duties, including housekeeping, arranging transportation, and assisting with personal hygiene. Caregivers also provide companionship and help clients stay engaged in their communities.

To become an HCA-C in Washington State, you will need to complete 75 hours of basic training approved by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). This includes 5 hours of orientation and safety training, 40 hours covering core competencies, and 30 hours of population-specific training. You will also need to pass a certification exam within 200 days of your hire date.

During the population-specific portion of basic training, caregiving students learn about the unique care needs of specific populations. This could include patients with dementia, vision loss, diabetes, heart disease, and a number of other conditions. Some caregivers pursue specialty training during this portion of their education, opening up additional job opportunities.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for home health and personal care aides is expected to grow 36% in the next ten years as the population ages. With so many opportunities, caregiving can be a great place to start a career!

Specialty Caregiving

Many HCA-Cs choose to specialize in caring for specific populations, such as mental health or dementia patients. These populations have specific care needs that require education beyond core competencies training.

In many cases, specialty certification can count toward continuing education or even toward a caregiver’s 75-hour basic training. However, these courses cannot be taken online per State requirements. You will need to pass a written exam after the training to receive State certification.

Specialty training allows caregivers to take on new responsibilities and advance up the career ladder. You may be required to obtain a specialty certificate to work in some environments, such as assisted livings, or an adult family homes. If you are an HCA-C looking to take on new challenges and stay competitive, consider specializing in mental health or dementia care.

Nurse Delegation

Nurse delegation is a program under Washington State law that allows caregivers working in certain settings to perform tasks that would normally be performed by a licensed nurse. This program saves nurses time and allows many clients to receive all their daily care from the same person.

Certain daily care tasks fall under the scope of nurse delegation. These tasks can include administering most medications, changing non-sterile dressings, ostomy care, gastronomy feedings, and blood glucose monitoring. A Registered Nurse delegator (RND) must delegate each client task to the caregiver.

Caregivers who are currently an HCA-C or CNA can complete 9 hours of additional training to receive a certificate for core nurse delegation tasks.  Training can be done as a self-study course and used for continuing education, or to meet job requirements. After completing the training, students must take an exam to receive their certificate. 

Students can also receive their nurse delegation diabetes certificate with a 3-hour self-study program, which must be completed in conjunction with or after nurse delegation core training. The course covers insulin injections and other tasks required for diabetes patients.

Nurse delegation generally occurs in community settings like assisted living facilities, residential programs for people with developmental disabilities, or adult family homes. You may find that new career opportunities open up after training for nurse delegation.

Nursing Assistant-Certified (NAC)

NACs, or nursing assistants-certified, can provide care in clinical environments as well as homes. They often provide support to patients who are recovering from a major medical challenge. In addition to assisting patients with hygiene and mobility, NACs can record vital signs and work with medical devices such as IVs, feeding tubes, and catheters.

HCA-Cs already have much of the knowledge required to become a NAC, or nursing assistant-certified. NACs can work outside the home in medical facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.  

If you are already a certified caregiver, you can enroll in a “bridge” training program to become a NAC. This 24-hour course includes 8 hours of classroom work, 8 hours of skills lab, and 8 hours of clinical practice. Students who pass the NAC bridge program can then take the State competency test to become Nursing Assistant Certified.

Caregivers who pursue NAC certification often see a pay increase and steadier hours, depending on where they work. Some go on to become LPNs (licensed practical nurses), RNs (registered nurses), educators, or hospital administrators.

Growing Your Caregiving Career With Sunrise

Sunrise Services offers caregiver training services to people at a wide variety of career stages. Our 75-hour basic home care aide training includes both in-person and online education options for students pursuing HCA-C certification. We also offer mental health and dementia specialty courses, nurse delegation, diabetes care, first aid, and a NAC Bridge program to help caregivers transition to clinical work.

Established in 1977, Sunrise was founded to offer genuine hope and care to clients throughout the Puget Sound community. In addition to caregiver training, we provide mental and behavioral health services, financial management, recovery, career assistance, and home care and supported living services.

We partner with individuals and families to achieve the best possible quality of life. With a small-step approach to problem solving, we successfully identify community resources and service options to help clients achieve their goals. We highly value personal choice for our clients.

If you are interested in learning more about Sunrise’s well-respected caregiver training program, contact us today. You are going to love our classes!


See Our Course Offerings