What is a Patient Care Technician?

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The healthcare industry is in dire need of personnel.

2020 and its health-related crisis made things look even grimmer.

This need is felt in all fields of expertise and at all levels of knowledge and competencies.

One such need is for patient care technicians.

Through this article, you’ll learn what a patient care technician is, in case you’re considering joining the medical field.

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A Patient Care Technician’s Workplace

To better understand or explain what something is, we need to have a look at where we can encounter it.

In our case, we will most often encounter a patient care tech in the majority of facilities where more seriously sick people are.

Such settings are:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Various rehabilitation centers
  • Facilities for long term care
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Hospices

In these healthcare and medical environments you’ll meet people that:

  • Are more or less seriously injured
  • Have problems with mobility
  • May have chronic illnesses
  • May suffer from some disorder that prevents them from taking care of themselves

The income of a patient care tech will not help us define this occupation.

However, it’s good to know what wage you can expect once you’re hired.

The average salary of a patient care technician is $16 per hour, or around $32,000 a year.

Actual numbers will be different based on the number of shifts you work, your experience, certification, and not only.

In the next section, we’ll find out how all these sick people may need help.

A Patient Care Technician’s Job Responsibilities

Here is where we’ll learn more about the job itself of a patient care technician.

This is how we’ll understand what these technicians are.

Patient care techs are very close to the patients, as the title of the occupation suggests.

These professionals also work with the other personnel of the facility that hired them.

Additionally, they are also supervised by both doctors and nurses.

Patient care technicians are in charge of tasks such as:

  • Serving meals
  • Ensuring patients drink and eat enough
  • Talking to the patients
  • Measuring and monitoring their vitals
  • Drawing blood
  • Performing CPR
  • Helping patients with using the bathroom
  • Catheter care
  • Talking to the families of the patients
  • Maintaining patient rooms clean
  • Escorting the patients for various procedures

Clearly, these duties will be adjusted for the needs of each person in the facility.

They will also vary from facility to facility and some employers might even give employers specific tasks related to their jobs.

A Patient Care Technician’s Job Requirements

To complete the description of a patient care technician, we must look at the traits needed by the ideal candidate.

Everyone knows that every job has a person suited for it more than others.

Let’s see what attributes this person should have:

  • Accuracy
  • Registration with the Nurse Aide Registry of the state
  • A clean criminal record
  • Passed a drug test
  • Several certifications
  • Compassion
  • Physical stamina
  • Very good communication skills
  • Ability to work in a team

The ability to work in a team, communication skills, and compassion, are very important when dealing with a variety of people in stressful situations.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get hired as a patient care tech without being listed in the Registry.

A Patient Care Technician’s Training and Education

Wait, wait for a second, because we’re not done talking and explaining what a patient care technician is!

It’s pretty clear that for some of the tasks and thus procedures, you’ll need to know a thing or two about medicine.

Additionally, you can’t earn any certifications or be listed in the Nurse Aide Registry without some sort of training or education.

Your primary education has to be at the high school level, by having a high school diploma or even a GED.

Additional education can easily be earned through trade schools, community colleges, or technical schools.

What is a Patient Care Technician

There are many programs designed for patient care technicians, but you can choose other programs too.

Other classes that are accepted for the PCT can be any of the following:

  • For certified nurse assistants
  • For patient care technicians
  • For medical assistants

Upon enrolling in any of the programs you might have to attend some extra classes.

These usually are:

  • Phlebotomy
  • EKG
  • CPR
  • BLS

The programs are available online, in-person, full-time, or even part-time.

Patient care techs don’t spend the same amount of time in the training programs.

The programs vary in duration from a few months to a year, and up to 2 years.

It’s the institutions that decide the duration of the programs they offer.

They also offer credentials according to the length of the program as follows:

  • Certificate for programs that last a few months
  • Diploma for the programs with a duration of 1 year
  • Associates’ degree diploma for 2 years of study

Of course, you might wonder what kind of classes will the students attend.

After all, this aspect will help define what a patient care technician is.

Here’s a sample of classes included in most of these programs:

  • Working with patients with diabetes
  • Safety
  • Restorative care
  • Home health protocol
  • Wound care
  • Ostomy care
  • Sanitation
  • Infection control
  • Medical terms and abbreviations
  • Inserting catheters
  • The structure and function of body systems

The majority of the available programs also have a practice component.

There’s an exception for the shortest available programs and also possibly for the online ones.

What we haven’t mentioned yet is how to be accepted in these programs.

Generally speaking, besides the minimum education mentioned earlier, you’ll also have to be vaccinated against several viral infections.

You might also have to take some special classes before the actual start of the program, such as:

  • Open the doors to various career options
  • Give you more responsibilities
  • A higher-income

A Patient Care Technician’s Certification

The certification PCTs need the most is the one issued by the NHA.

You can take the exam once you graduated from the training program chosen.

The NHA also accepts certified nurse assistants with at least one year of experience.

Usually, this experience can be accumulated while working as a certified nurse assistant, which is an entry-level position.

Knowing about this aspect helps better understand what a patient care tech is.

The test has a duration of almost 2 hours and consists of 120 questions in total.

You’ll have to pay the exam fee as well if it wasn’t included in the tuition of the course you completed.

Patient care technician aspirants can earn many other credentials that will be helpful for their career in various ways.

Usually, the most common credentials are for:

  • CPR – usually mandatory for all medical personnel
  • Performing EKG
  • Performing phlebotomy procedures

Conclusion

At this point, it should be pretty clear what a patient care technician is, as we described everything that sets this professional apart from other medical personnel.

There is something we forgot to mention earlier.

This is that while you could be a certified nursing assistant (CNA) before being a patient care tech, these 2 types of personnel don’t fully share the workplace.

CNAs can be found in a limited number of facilities compared to patient care technicians.

This also means that as a patient care tech, you have higher chances to get hired, since you can apply at many more facilities.

You’re also likely to find employment faster due to your education and credentials.


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