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The Difference Between a CNA and PCA

November 11, 2022

If you’re curious about pursuing a career in homecare services, you might ask: “What type of caregiver should I be?” 

You may already know that PCA stands for “personal care assistant,” but what about CNA? And what is the difference between the two positions?

Best Care is here to help you learn more about these two vital roles, so you can decide which career path is best for you or find the best support for a loved one in need.

What Is a PCA?

PCA stands for Personal Care Assistant. To become a PCA, you must have a high school diploma or GED. In addition, the Minnesota Department of Human Services states that the requirements for becoming a PCA include passing a background check, a training course, and passing a test. (Both the training and test are available here).

PCA responsibilities will be unique to the recipient of care but typically include the following:

  • Basic first aid
  • Light cleaning
  • Running errands
  • Cooking meals
  • Providing transportation
  • Assistance with daily tasks
  • Assistance with grooming and bathing
  • Engaging with clients and providing companionship

What Is a CNA?

CNA stands for “Certified Nursing Assistant.” This role also requires a high school diploma or GED. In Minnesota, a CNA must complete a state-approved nursing assistant course and pass an exam organized by the state to obtain a CNA certificate. 

The CNA must then complete “at least 75 hours of training, with 16 hours of clinical training,” according to ChooseCNA.org. In Minnesota, this training generally includes “CPR, first aid, AED usage, infection control, taking vital signs, range-of-motion exercises, delivering care, and other important skills.”

The average responsibilities of a CNA include the following:

  • Helping to turn or reposition patients
  • Setting up medical equipment
  • Observing changes in behavior
  • Administering medications
  • Helping patients exercise
  • Dressing wounds
  • Recording temperatures and vitals


The critical difference between a PCA and a CNA is that CNAs have more medical training than PCAs and can do more medically complex tasks. However, the benefit of a PCA is that it can provide primary care quickly, enabling you to easily start providing a loved one with care and support as soon as possible. 

Both jobs certainly have their benefits and can suit care recipients with varying support needs. 

Get Support

Whatever your situation, if you’re considering becoming a PCA, don’t hesitate to contact Best Care. We can help you along on your way to providing quality home care to your patients or loved ones!

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