The Nursing Assistant Program (NAST) curriculum is a 9-week certificate program that is structured to provide theory and practical application on skills needed to function as an entry-level nurse assistant in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities.   The program trains students to provide basic patient care such as taking vital signs, bathing, feeding, transferring, positioning, and bed making. The course covers techniques of communication, behavior and ethical issues in patient care.  Hands-on internship experience in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities is part of the training. 

The Nursing Assistant Program prepares the student for certification by the State of California.   After completion of the course, students apply to the California Department of Public Health to take the written and hands-on certification exam.  Certification comes after passing this state exam.  The initials CNA indicate the nursing assistant has passed this exam and become certified by the state of California.   A portion of the course prepares students to apply and take the certification exam. 

Class Description and Schedule

NAST 148 is the lecture/classroom portion of the class, and covers communication, behavior and ethical issues in patient care. Basic patient care skills such as transferring, positioning, feeding, bathing, bed-making and taking vital signs prepare students for clinical experiences in local extended care facilities.  

NAST 148L is the skills portion of the class, where students apply the principles of basic nursing care to patients and clients of all ages in skilled nursing and acute care facilities.  This section of the class gives the student a hands-on opportunity to determine if they enjoy working in healthcare. 

To view the CNA class schedule, go to the Class Finder, then select Subject: Nursing Assistant (NAST), then Class Status: All Classes

Estimated costs for the CNA Class and certification test

CNA Certification Exam

Successful completion of this training program qualifies students to take the state CNA certification exam. Upon passing this exam, students are prepared for employment in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities or private duty nursing at the Nursing Assistant level. CNA certification is issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Steps to Register for the NNAAP Nurse Aide Exam can be found here at the Credentia Website.


For questions about Cuesta's CNA program, contact the Nursing Program Specialist, Brita Blue at (805) 592-9426 or

For questions about CNA training programs, certification or re-certification, go to the California Department of Public Health CNA Webpage,or call the CDPH CNA Certification Unit at (916) 327-2445.

To make an appointment with an academic counselor, contact Counseling at (805) 546-3138 (San Luis Obispo campus), or (805) 591-6241 (North County Campus)