How to Become a Patient Care Technician in Pennsylvania
People often work as patient care technicians to gain hands-on experience that could help them thrive in a future nursing career.
To become a patient care tech in Pennsylvania, you must have several skills, including a desire to help others, the ability to perform well under pressure, and a friendly, professional bedside manner to help put patients at ease.
Education and Training
What Do You Study?
Those who want to begin working as a patient care technician as soon as possible can enroll in a Pennsylvania trade school or community college and take the necessary courses. Classes typically include instruction in:
- Medical terminology
- Anatomy and physiology
- Diagnostic procedures and therapeutic measures
- Phlebotomy and EKG/ECG skills
- Infection control and safety practices
- HIPPA regulations and medical ethics
- Health assessment and patient care skills
How Long Does It Take?
Aspiring Pennsylvania patient care technicians also complete clinical practicum duties in a medical facility. During this portion of their program, students interact with patients and apply the various skills they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world situations. It can take anywhere from eight weeks to one year to complete a patient care tech program in PA.
In some cases, extensive on-the-job training may be all it takes to become a patient care tech in PA.
After working at a nursing home, hospital, or other medical facility for a year or more, you might be able to gain enough experience to perform basic feeding, bathing, and mobility assistance tasks. However, you’ll need to obtain the proper credentials before you can do more advanced medical duties.
Pennsylvania Patient Care Technician Requirements
Becoming a patient care tech in Pennsylvania requires a range of official certifications.
Whether you enroll in a trade school program or gain the necessary experience through on-the-job training, you’ll need to obtain Basic Life Support certification from either the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association to show your ability to render life-saving aid using CPR and first aid practices.
To perform advanced patient care duties like administering medications and drawing blood, techs can become a registered nurse aid, phlebotomist, and EKG technician through the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Eligibility requirements for taking the NHA’s patient care technician certification exam include having a high school diploma or GED and either one year of supervised work experience in the industry or a certificate from an accredited training program.
If you have these qualifications, you can apply to take the certification exam, schedule a test date and location, and begin studying.
The NHA patient care technician certification exam consists of 100 questions covering the following topics:
- Patient Care
- Compliance, Safety, and Professional Responsibility
- Infection Control
Test-takers have two hours to complete the in-person or online exam and can log into their NHA account to view their scores after two days. In order to pass the patient care technician exam and obtain your official certification, you’ll need to score at least 390 out of a possible 500.
Patient Care Technician Salaries in PA
On average, a patient care tech in PA earns about $34k per year. Salaries for this role are similar to the national average for phlebotomists, home health and personal care aides, and medical assistants.
However, since patient care technicians require extra training to perform specific medical tasks, they tend to make a bit more than some healthcare techs and assistants.
Rather than lay out the specific pay rate details for patient care technicians in Pennsylvania, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics places these medical professionals in the Nursing Assistants and Orderlies category.
Wage information for these workers in some of the most populated areas in Pennsylvania are as follows:
- Philadelphia $36,060
- Pittsburgh $34,080
- Allentown $34,650
- Erie $32,590
- Reading $33,550
- Scranton $32,250
- Lancaster $33,250
Salaries for patient care technicians in Pennsylvania are sometimes closer to $38k, though these wages also vary depending on each worker’s credentials and experience. Certified patient care techs with several years of industry experience might be able to earn roughly $40k or $50k per year. Meanwhile, some private nursing homes, hospitals, and rehab centers may be willing to pay even more.
Since patient care technician is such a versatile role, those planning to work in smaller medical facilities can negotiate higher wages too. Employers may prefer to hire a single patient care tech who can perform several duties over finding a CNA, phlebotomist, and EKG technician to fill separate positions.
Patient Care Tech Job Description
What Do They Do?
A patient care technician is essentially a certified nursing assistant (CNA) with additional medical training. Working under the supervision of a nurse, doctor, or another healthcare professional, these workers administer care to patients. Along with feeding and bathing patients, assisting with physical therapy exercises, and taking and monitoring vitals, patient care techs perform advanced tasks like:
- Removing staples and stitches
- Inserting catheters
- Administering medications
- Cleaning and dressing wounds
- Collecting blood samples alongside phlebotomists
- Operating advanced medical monitoring equipment like EKGs
Patient care technicians are also similar to medical assistants since they interact with patients to help them relax and feel comfortable during medical procedures. In some cases, they may work alongside the LPN or physician to talk with the patient’s family about different health matters and care needs that could help improve the patient’s condition.
Over the next decade, healthcare workers can expect a five-percent increase in the demand for patient care techs. Studies show that both EKG tech and phlebotomist jobs will be on the rise during that time frame as well.
Those looking for patient care technician jobs in Pennsylvania can apply for any of these roles and potentially earn a higher-than-average salary performing all three tasks at one facility.