A photo of three Certified Nursing Assistants talking to each other while walking down a hallway of a medical facility


A Key Aid in Care

The huge demand for nurses means that Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) are more important now than ever. Students will learn key aspects of the nursing profession before applying for certification. The job of a certified nursing assistant can lead to a rewarding career, but can also be a jumping off point to higher positions in healthcare, like the Vocational Nursing Program and the Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN/RN) Program at Southwestern College.

Under the supervision of nurses, a Certified Nursing Assistant is key to completing and fulfilling patient needs and care. 

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This program is designed for students interested in a career in nursing. Completion of the Certified Nursing Program confers eligibility to take the State exam. CNA certification is highly recommended and has the highest points allotted for entrance into the Associate Degree in Nursing Program and is required for the Vocational Nursing Program.

Certified Nursing Assistants are employed by hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and other health care agencies. The course content includes fundamental procedures to meet the basic needs of patients, gathering data about the patients, communicating appropriately and other content required by State regulations for nurse assistant certification.

The lab portion of the course includes skills required for nurse assistant certification such as fundamental procedures to meet basic human needs, gathering data about the patient and communicating appropriately. Information about the health care system and how it functions is also included.

Length of the Program

Currently the program is an 8.5-unit course: CNA-20 (5.5 units of lecture) and CNA-20L (3 units of lab). Four classes are offered throughout the year: January, March, June and August. The first three classes meet a minimum of three eight-hour days per week for nine weeks. In August, the class will meet a minimum of two days per week for the full fall semester. The CNA class is repeatable only once and attendance to all class meeting days is mandatory.

Reading 56 or higher is recommended preparation for this course.

Please note: If a student fails out of ANY nursing program for unsafe clinical practice or a violation of professional, legal, or unethical conduct, that student may be ineligible for admission to any Southwestern College Nursing or Health Occupation Program.


Priority enrollment/acceptance is given to students who apply during the designated application period. Submit a complete application packet based on the checklist provided. The application packet must include the physical exam and immunization forms filled out by your healthcare provider. Forms and copies of immunization records and/or titer (blood test) results are required for clinial placement in the program.

Starting February 22, 2021, CNA applications will be submitted online for summer and future classes.
Link to Online CNA Application is at the bottom of this page.
Do not mail-in a paper application packet.

The CNA program accepts 30-40 students for each class. We will accept additional students as alternates (in case potential students from the accepted group are unable to participate). Accepted students will be notified via SWC email after the application period closes and after all applications have been reviewed. All accepted students are expected to meet on the first day at 8 a.m. Students who fail to meet the class will have to re-apply for the next available course.

CNA Program Information Sessions Flyer

Application Period

Submit your CNA Program application packet online during the dates listed below.

  • Summer 2021
    Monday, February 22, 2021 through Thursday, March 25, 2021 (class starts June 2021)
  • Fall 2021
    Monday, May 10, 2021 through Thursday, June 10, 2021 (class starts August 2021)
  • Spring I 2022
    Application Period (TBD)
  • Spring II 2022
    Application Period (TBD)

CNA Program

Offered every semester:

  • Summer class is a 9-week session and begins in June.
  • Fall class is an 18-week session and starts in August.
  • Spring I and Spring II are 9-week sessions and begin in January and mid-March, respectively.

    Note: Submitting an application does not guarantee entry into the program.

Application Documents & Instructions

Before filling out the online application, gather all required documents and forms listed on the checklist below: high school transcript (optional), social security card, driver’s license/state ID, CPR certification, physical exam/immunization forms filled out, immunization records and/or titers (lab work).

Download, print and fill out the physical exam and immunization forms (pages 1-7). Pages 1-2 are filled out by you. Your healthcare provider/doctor will fill out pages 3-4 (physical exam) and pages 5-7 (immunizations, TB test results, and flu shot form). Scan your completed forms (pages 1-7 completely filled out); and a copy of your immunization records and/or titers (lab work), including flu shot, and TB test results. Then, attach them when you complete the Online CNA Application using the button below.

Important note: Give yourself and your doctor/healthcare provider ample time to complete the physical exam/immunization forms. Most of the work in applying for the CNA Program involves getting these forms filled out and providing copies of your records.

Online Application

IMPORTANT: You must be logged in with your MySWC Account to apply. If you're having difficulty, go to https://accounts.google.com/logout to completely logout of all of your G Suite accounts, then try logging in with your MySWC.

State Certification

After successful completion of the nursing assistant training program, you are eligible to apply for the California Department of Health Services, Licensing and Certification exam. The exam is administered on campus and the current fee is $100.00 (subject to change).

Southwestern College Nursing Program
Attn: Higher Education Center at Otay Mesa
8100 Gigantic St, Room 4401
San Diego CA 92154


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