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Exploring the Versatile Career Path of a Patient Care Technician

patient care technician

When someone enters a medical facility, they can experience a range of emotions, in addition to physical discomfort. A patient care technician helps keep them calm and comfortable, delivering invaluable peace of mind when they need it the most.

Serving as an assistant to the on-duty nurse, these experts work behind the scenes to take care of all the details that shape a patient’s experience. If you’re interested in serving others and growing in the medical field, this is a wonderful role to consider. It can also be a great stepping stone on your way to becoming a registered nurse (RN).

Today, we’re taking a look at what a patient care technician does, and the career path to follow if you want to work in this capacity.

What Does a Patient Care Technician Do?

As this job title implies, a patient care technician (PCT) provides daily, around-the-clock care for patients. Working under the guidance of an RN or designated nursing team, they assist with patient needs and help them acclimate to the healthcare facility. Often, their first interaction with the patient is performing basic intake tasks, such as taking their vital signs and helping them find a room.

Once these steps are complete, they’ll shift into more of a liaison role. They’ll monitor the patient’s condition and report any changes to the nurse, so they can make any adjustments necessary to their care. As they get to know the patient and spend time alongside them, some of their other duties will include:

  • Providing emotional support
  • Collecting samples and sending them to the lab (e.g. blood, stool, urine)
  • Performing some medical tests and recording results
  • Bringing and serving meals to patients
  • Monitoring patient food/beverage intake
  • Taking patients to different procedures throughout the facility (e.g. X-rays, CT scans)
  • Assisting with daily care, including getting out of bed, showering, and using the bathroom

If you enjoy helping others and working in a healthcare environment, this could be the perfect job for you.

Expected Salary

Reports vary on the expected salary for a patient care technician. According to one source, the average person in this role makes around $36,280 per year. There are a few different factors that can affect your earning potential, including:

  • Level of education
  • Geographic location
  • Specialized certifications
  • Years of experience
  • Healthcare setting

It’s expected that nursing teams will continue to need patient care technicians long into the future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that nursing assistants and similar roles will grow by 4% between 2022 and 2032.

Educational Requirements

If you’re interested in becoming a PCT, it’s important to understand the academic steps to take. Most facilities require either a high school diploma or a GED before hiring someone for this role.

You may need more advanced degrees or certifications if you wish to specialize in this field. In addition, some states and facilities have their own requirements that you’ll need to follow. For example, some will require you to complete a certified nursing assistant training program at your local community college or technical school.

Here, you’ll learn the core concepts required for every aspect of patient care, including:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Medical law
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical safety
  • Records management

In addition to classroom-based learning, you may also have field-based training. As you learn the ropes, you’ll become well-versed in basic technical skills, such as how to apply first aid, bandage a wound, and perform CPR. Some programs may also include an internship program, which allows you to apply your new skills in a clinical healthcare environment.

In all, expect to allocate at least two years to complete your education and training before becoming a patient care technician.

Certification Exam

Once you complete the academic portion of this journey, the final step is to become officially certified as a Patient Care Technician/Assistant. In most states, this means passing an exam, as well as completing a background check.

Career Paths to Take

Once you become a PCT, you can work in a few different locations and capacities. For some people, working in this role is the end goal. For others, it’s a stepping stone as they work to grow their healthcare career.

For instance, you can work as a patient care technician while going to school to become a registered nurse. This way, you can gain valuable real-life experience and earn additional income to help offset your educational expenses.

As you look for your first appointment, some of the most common places that employ these experts include:

  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals
  • Doctor’s offices
  • Health care clinics
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Home health care services

Next, let’s take a look at some of the different kinds of PCT roles available.

Dialysis Technician

Dialysis technicians work with patients who are suffering from kidney failure. In this role, some of your tasks will include sterilizing the dialysis equipment and providing emotional support for patients.

Telemetry Technician

A telemetry is a portable device that monitors a patient’s cardiac condition, reporting on results from electrocardiograms (ECGs), as well as respiratory rates and oxygen saturation. A PCT can perform ECGs and share the findings, as well as monitor a patient’s heart and report any changes to the nurse.

Hospital or Emergency Room PCT

In a hospital, a PCT will usually be assigned to a specific group of patients. As they move from room to room, they’ll make sure the patients are comfortable, check their vitals, and help with small-scale tasks, such as changing wound dressings or inserting IVs.

If you want to work in a more fast-paced environment, consider working as an ER technician, instead!

Rehabilitation Technician

Individuals going through rehab therapy for substance abuse can also benefit from PCTs. In this role, you’ll provide emotional support for each patient, help stabilize their behavior, and assist with their basic needs.

Should You Become a Patient Care Technician?

Becoming a patient care technician can open many doors, allowing you to work in many different roles in various healthcare settings. If you enjoy helping others and making them feel special and comfortable, this could be an ideal position for you.

At Healthcare Career College, we help students understand their goals, complete their education, and reach their true potential. We offer a range of programs, including a PCT diploma program. Contact us to learn more about our admissions process, book an information session, or apply online today!