General Information for Healthcare Careers

Careers in Healthcare

Healthcare is, and is expected to remain, the fastest growing industry for the next 10 years. Healthcare careers provide stable income and the opportunity to help and serve others. Click here to see 10 reasons for choosing a healthcare career. Overall, healthcare careers are for people that want to help others, collaborate well with a team, can work in fast-paced environments, and are inclined to lifelong learning. 

Types of Healthcare Careers

There are many careers in the healthcare field, and new roles within healthcare emerge regularly. There are a variety of roles in healthcare outside of nursing. We encourage exploration of various healthcare careers to find one that suits a person's strengths. Less commonly known careers include pharmacy, physical and occupational therapists and therapist assistants, nutritionists, informatics, mental health workers, optometry, and sports medicine. 

Click here for a directory of healthcare careers in California. Click here for more information on finding a career that is right for you. 

Healthcare Programs at COD

At College of the Desert, we have several options for those desiring to work in the healthcare field. Click on the topics below to learn more. For a full list of COD's programs click here



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We believe that nursing is a dynamic profession in which nurses’ work collaboratively to provide safe, compassionate, patient-centered, holistic health care. As members of the health care team, nurses have an evolving practice, based on innovations, emerging technologies, and changing societal needs.  Nursing blends evidence-based practice with the altruistic art of caring to promote, maintain, and restore wellness.  Nursing demonstrates professionalism and caring for vulnerable individuals throughout their lifespan using knowledge, critical thinking, and effective communication. 

Choosing to become a nurse is a life-changing decision. There are many reasons to choose nursing as a career; a secure job market, the desire to help and care for others, well-paying and flexible jobs, and a variety of fields within nursing. Whatever the reason, nurses need to be compassionate, caring, professional, empathetic, and work well with other people. 

There are many differences in the type of program and nurse you want to become, but there are 4 main differences; Education, job function, work environment, and salary.

Why COD Nursing Program? 

COD's nursing programs began in 1962 and have been staple in the Coachella Valley since that time. COD Nurses have a reputation of being professional, competent, caring, safe, and compassionate. 

​Want to know how COD students compare to other programs?​

View the pass rates of the California NCLEX-RN exam​.


CNA - Certified Nurse Assistant

Certified nurse assistants provide basic patient care directed at the safety, comfort, personal hygiene, and protection of patients and residents. Although work environments vary, CNAs are often employed by hospitals, long-term care, skilled-nursing facilities, and rehabilitation facilities. They assist with activities of daily living as follows: 

  • Cleaning and bathing  
  • Helping with dressing, toileting, and eating
  • Positioning and transferring
  • Measuring vital signs
  • Charting and updating medical records
  • Answering patient call lights
  • Serving and feeding patient meals
  • Transporting patients
  • Making beds and cleaning up patient rooms
  • Reporting changes in condition to nursing staff

College of the Desert's CNA program is a 12-week course. HS-064 is offered in fall, spring, and summer. 12 weeks Offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer terms. 
3-4 days/week  
6 hours/day 

Local certificate

Although salaries can vary based on the work environment, the average CNA salary in California is $31k-$44k/year ($13-20/hr). *Data from 2021

For more information about a career as a CNA check out these websites.

COD's Nursing Assistant Program

CNA Career Information

CNA Program State Mandated Curriculum & Regulations


LVN - Licensed Vocational Nurse

The LVN (sometimes referred as Licensed Practical Nurses [LPNs]) provides basic nursing care. Although there are a variety of settings that employee LVNs, primary work environments include Hospitals, long-term facilities, Skilled-nursing facilities, doctor’s offices, clinics, urgent cares, home health, and hospice. Responsibilities include the following: 

  • Monitoring patient status by taking vital signs
  • Changing dressings and inserting urinary catheters
  • Providing care or assisting with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, and feeding
  • Reporting changes to the RN or doctor
  • Charting and updating medical records
  • Administers medication and vaccinations
  • Collects samples (e.g., blood, urine, etc.)
  • Assists with wound care
  • Provides feedings through nasogastric or gastrostomy tubes
  • Executes a nursing care plan under the direction of an RN 

The College of the Desert LVN program is 1-year, begins in Fall term and continues through Spring and Summer. 1 year (Fall, Spring, Summer terms) 
5 days/week  
6-12 hours/day 

Certificate or degree

Although salaries can vary based on the work environment, the average LVN salary in California is $48k-$71k/year ($20-30/hr). *Data from 2021 


RN - Registered Nurse

The RN has extensive responsibilities including supervising LPN/LVNs & CNAs. Hospitals, long-term facilities, Skilled-nursing facilities, doctor’s offices, clinics, urgent cares, home health, hospice, ambulatory centers, surgical centers, dialysis centers, and more. Other duties include the following: 

  • Managing the care of the patient
  • Collaboration with the healthcare team
  • Assessing patients’ health problems
  • Complying with orders from physicians
  • Administering medications and starting IVs
  • Monitoring patient progress and reporting changes to physicians
  • Providing patient and family education including discharge instructions
  • Charting and updating medical records

There are various pathways to becoming an RN. 

Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (BSN)

Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN)

RN/ADN to BSN Program

The College of the Desert's RN program is: 

2 years (4 semesters; Fall & Spring) 
3-4 days/week 
2-12 hours/day 
50-60 hours/week of classes & study time

Although salaries can vary based on the work environment, the average RN salary in California is $58k-$91k/year ($32-$40/hr)  *Data from 2021