We’ve compiled some highly informative resources that will help get you started in your health care career. Here are some of the answers you’ll find right here at PCT HQ:
Where do I start?!
To get an overview of what it means to be a Patient Care Technician see the article below or if you’re ready to move on to more detailed information follow any of the links above and be sure to check out the latest entries as well.
What Is a Patient Care Technician?
In order to answer the question it is important to tell you that this position is considered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics 2001 survey as one of the “new and Emerging Occupations”. This is a position that has far more responsibilities than the position for a nurse’s aide.
Although the position is an outgrowth of the position of nurse’s aide, the responsibilities involve skills that are more comprehensive. The patient care technician is an important medical team member who will handle responsibilities and multi task in order to ensure that a patient is able to meet health plan goals.
The role and responsibilities for this position will require a competent individual who can multi task and maintain a professional demeanor at all times. This series will review the job description and career field of the patient care technician. You will get information about the job market, trends and where you might expect to work if you decide to become a patient care technician.
A Patient Care Technician’s Job Description
A patient care technician -a type of unlicensed assistive personnel- works under the supervision of doctors and nurses to implement, monitor and document patient care. The patient care technician assist patients who cannot get in and out of bed, need assistance sitting or getting up, eating meals and with personal hygiene such as brushing teeth, bathing or personal grooming. They care for patients with either physical or mental illness and in some situations with co-occurring conditions.
What are some of the responsibilities of a patient care technician position?
A health care technician must be able to:
- Read and interpret operating and maintenance procedure manuals. You have to know how to use medical equipment and understand if there might be a need for calibration. This is an essential feature of the requirements especially if the patient requires life support or supplemental support equipment.
- Communicate effectively with physicians, patients, family members, social workers, psychologists or other clinical team members. In some cases, English might be a second language for a patient and if the primary care technician is fluent in the primary language, it will eliminate any potential language barriers.
- Handle challenging patient problems or health issues. Different patients will have different needs and the patient care technician has to be able to address problems and concerns that might not have been apparent at the start of care. For example, logistics problems with housing, pets, finances and mobility can be a concern in order for the patient to experience quality of life care.
- One of the key words in the job description is documentation. The need for documentation is critical in any healthcare setting because you have to establish and document procedures and behaviors as they relate to patient care. It is important that the health care technician know how to write effective sentences and understand basic grammar and sentence structure.
This brings us to the minimum education requirements for a patient care technician:
- High school diploma or equivalency diploma, or general degree with an emphasis on health care
- Certification for the position may not be a requirement for every state however it is advisable to pursue a certificate since most institutions will require one in order to meet the requirements for the position.
The following sections will talk about patient care technician careers, where you can expect to find work and essential aspects such as job trends, wage and benefits and working environment for the health care technician. You can find the follow-up entries right here…
You might also like to know that the patient care technician specialty goes by a few other names.
Some of the titles listed below share the same responsibilities while others are slightly different but they are probably all worth researching if you are interested in this type of medical position.
Similar medical specialties:
- Nursing Assistant
- Nurse Auxiliary
- Patient Care Assistant
- Home Health Aide
- Nurse Aide
- Nurse Tech
- Unlicensed Assistive Personnel
Patient Care Technician Training & Education
If you are interested in a career in the medical field and have been doing a little research into patient care technician type jobs you’ve probably realized that this is a fairly entry level position in the medical world.
If you are an ambitious type this might put you off from pursuing this type of position any further however that should not necessarily be the case. Even if you have long term career goals that lead beyond working as a patient care assistant starting out working in a job like this can be good in a few different ways.
Since, as we mentioned above, you may only need a high school diploma or GED to get started as a patient care tech the barrier to entry is quite low. Low barriers to entry always favor upstarts and starting to work in this field can be a good way to gain real world experience.
Working in a realistic environment will do a lot more for your career than taking college courses in many cases. It may also cut down the time that would otherwise be required for you to move on to more advanced medical specialities.
We hear a lot these days about people who have graduated from college and are now in the job market looking for work but having a tough time of it. This type of anecdote may be more common in other fields besides the health care sector however it applies in some degree to most sectors of work.
Most folks who graduate then spend months or years (decades even) paying off the costs of their education. What if you could get your education while getting paid? Or even have the opportunity to work for free in exchange for the experience.
While credentials can be impressive on paper what most employers are looking for is competent individuals and if you have worked as a patient care technician for even a fairly short period of time you should be able to use that experience to your advantage and with even more success than a paper credential would give you.
Obviously you will have to evaluate your particular situation and what your goals are but if you see yourself working in a more sophisticated medical position than that of a patient care assistant don’t let that hold you back from working as one on a more temporary basis to gain valuable skills and experience.
Of course even if you can get your foot in the door as a patient care technician without extra training you might find it beneficial to take some type of coursework related to the profession.
It’s from a school so they have an interest in getting you enrolled but you might like to check out this video about patient care technician training and what a couple PCTs thought about getting started in this way.
Another thing to keep in mind when researching PCT education and training requirements as well as what it is like to work as a patient care technician is that you may find a related occupation that suits your skill set slightly more than a PCT position would.
As we mentioned above there are a number of related specialties such as the biomedical technician specialty which would put you in a medical work environment but might be more suited to someone of a technical nature who enjoys working on equipment a little more than constantly working with patients.
There’s more to learn for sure so check out some of the other patient care technician career information here on the site and look into related occupational specialties as well before you take your next step.