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Patient Care Technicians support nurses, doctors, and other medical staff in caring for patients with physical and mental health concerns. Patient Care Technicians are employed in a wide range of healthcare settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, assisted living communities, and more.
What Does a Patient Care Technician Do?
Under the supervision of nursing staff and a larger care team, Patient Care Technicians directly support patients during hospital stays and medical visits.
Patient Care Technicians hold a wide range of responsibilities, including:
- Providing quality patient care that includes emotional support and guidance
- Obtain specimens, conduct tests, and record results
- Check blood pressure, heart rate, and pulse on a regular basis
- Monitor patient condition and provide updates to care, team
- Monitor patients’ food and liquid intake
- Escort patients to X-ray and other diagnostic imaging processes
By providing this vital support to patients and medical staff, Patient Care Technicians streamline the delivery of medical care and improve the patient’s overall comfort and experience.
What Certifications or Degrees Do I Need to Become a Patient Care Technician?
To become a Patient Career Technician, an individual must first complete an approved educational course, pass the NCLEX exam (NCLEX exam as part of the Nursing Assisting component of the program) and a certification exam before the National Healthcare Association, and obtain certification from the state in which they live and work.
Individual employers and states may also require candidates for Patient Care Technician positions to pass a background check, obtain professional certification and complete continuing education credits or training.
What Is the Employment Outlook for a Patient Care Technician?
According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for Patient Care Technicians was $26,590 in May 2016.
Employment opportunities for Patient Care Technicians are on the rise. According to a study of employment in the healthcare field, employment within the Patient Care Technician field will grow by 17 percent by 2024. That’s an additional 267,800 jobs on top of the already more than 1.5 million currently active Patient Care Technicians.
How Do You Become a Patient Care Technician?
Like many other healthcare-related jobs, becoming a PCT requires a high school diploma and the completion of a state-approved training program, which can last from 20–27 weeks. Once the training is completed, CPCT/A certification is acquired by passing an exam. Once employed, there will be on-the-job training that must be completed. Some states also require continuing education and/or background checks before placing you on the state registry to find work.
Through these programs, you’ll learn how to assist physicians and nurses by providing basic and advanced clinical duties (sometimes in a virtual medical environment). The program covers topics such as anatomy and physiology, medical law and ethics, medical communications, medical records, patient preparation, medical terminology, safety and compliance, and basic laboratory procedures and tests. Throughout the program you’ll learn a wide variety of important clinical tasks designed to set you apart in the competitive job market.
In addition to having the proper licenses, certifications, and registrations, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also states that PCTs should have the following skills:
Communication Skills: This is needed to address patients’ or residents’ specific needs and to communicate clearly with fellow healthcare workers.
Compassion: Since you’re caring for the sick, injured, and elderly, a compassionate outlook goes a long way in the profession.
Patience: Caring for patients can be stressful. PCTs are often cleaning, feeding, and/or bathing patients or residents, which calls for you to stay calm.