Patient Care Technician

Why Become a Patient Care Tech?

With a growing demand for healthcare professionals, a PCT career promises job stability and the satisfaction of contributing to the overall health and comfort of patients. If you value compassion, teamwork, and the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, a career as a Patient Care Technician may be the ideal choice for you.

Education & Training

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How Long Does it Take?

Typically, PCT training programs can be completed in a relatively short period, ranging from a 8 to 12 weeks, to 9 months. Many vocational schools, community colleges, and healthcare institutions offer certificate programs designed to provide the necessary knowledge and skills for entry-level positions in patient care.

These programs often include a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience to ensure that students are well-prepared for the responsibilities of a Patient Care Technician. Some programs may also offer flexible scheduling options, such as evening or weekend classes, to accommodate individuals with other commitments.

How Much Does a Training Program Cost?

The cost of PCT training programs can range from $1,000 to $4,000 per course. Community colleges, vocational schools, and technical institutes often offer more affordable options for PCT training. Some institutions may also offer financial aid, scholarships, or payment plans to help students manage the cost of their education.

Education Requirements

To enroll in a state-approved patient care technician school, applicants must have their high school diploma or GED and pass a background check.

Some programs may also require the completion of a placement exam.

PCTs also need to understand how to care for patients’ physical and emotional needs. During their time in class, students learn how to provide quality patient care while attending to various medical responsibilities.

Among the allied healthcare professions are patient care technicians, or PCTs. Patient care techs support medical staff in caring for patients’ emotional and medical needs.

Similar to nursing assistants, they require the proper training and certifications to perform their roles successfully.

What Will You Learn in a PCT Course?

Patient Care Technician (PCT) training programs typically cover a range of topics to equip individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge for providing direct patient care. The curriculum is designed to prepare PCTs for the varied responsibilities they will undertake in healthcare settings. Common subjects covered in training may include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology: Understanding the structure and function of the human body is fundamental to providing effective patient care.
  • Medical Terminology: PCTs learn the language commonly used in healthcare settings, enabling clear communication with other healthcare professionals.
  • Vital Signs Monitoring: PCTs learn how to measure and interpret vital signs, including blood pressure, pulse rate, respiratory rate, and temperature.
  • Patient Hygeine and Infection Control: Training includes assisting with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and grooming, and the principles of infection prevention and control to maintain a safe and sanitary environment for patients.
  • Basic Nursing Skills: PCTs learn practical nursing skills, such as wound care, catheterization, and administering basic medications.
  • Medical Ethics and Legal Issues: Training programs often include discussions on ethical considerations, patient rights, and legal aspects of healthcare.

Benefits of Taking the Course

These courses provide a structured and comprehensive education covering essential topics that equip students with the knowledge needed to excel in direct patient care. Hands-on training and clinical experience are integral components of these programs, allowing students to apply theoretical concepts in real healthcare settings.

Additionally, PCT courses often foster the development of vital soft skills, including effective communication, empathy, and teamwork, essential for delivering compassionate care. Successful completion of a PCT training program not only enhances job prospects but also offers a quicker entry into the healthcare workforce.

CPR and Basic Life Support:  PCTs are often trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic life support techniques to respond to emergencies.

Salary

The average annual pay for patient care technicians and other jobs in the nursing assistant field is just over $35k.

Orderlies, home health aides and psychiatric aides make around $30k a year.

How Much Can a Patient Care Technician Make?

Certified patient care technicians may earn higher salaries, with the top 10% of earners in the field making more than $46k a year.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for Nurse Assistants and Patient Care Technicians is $35,740 per year, or $17.18 per hour.

The career is expected to grow by 4% over the next decade, which is slightly above the average career growth for all careers of 3%. Additionally, about 209,400 openings for nursing assistants and orderlies are projected each year, on average, over the same timespan.

The highest-paid patient care technician jobs are in junior colleges, government facilities, and research services. Meanwhile, the next tier of top-paying places of employment includes hospitals, nursing facilities, and retirement communities. Place of work, location, and experience are all factors that determine how much patient care technicians make

Career Overview

Among the allied healthcare professions are patient care technicians, or PCTs. Patient care techs support medical staff in caring for patients’ emotional and medical needs.

Similar to nursing assistants, they require the proper training and certifications to perform their roles successfully.

What Do They Do?

Patient Care Technicians (PCTs) are healthcare professionals who play a crucial role in supporting nurses, doctors, and other medical staff in providing direct patient care.

Their responsibilities often include monitoring and recording vital signs, such as blood pressure and heart rate, assisting patients with daily activities like bathing and dressing, and ensuring a clean and organized patient environment.

Patient Care Technicians are also trained to operate and maintain medical equipment, as well as to recognize and report any changes in a patient’s condition ot the nursing or emdical staff.

In addition ot the hands-on care they provide, PCTs offer emotional support to patients, helpiing them navigate the challenges of illness or recovery.

This role is essential in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilties, and rehabilitation centers. It’s a career that requires a compassionate nature, excellent communication skills, and a commitment to delivering high-quality patient services.

Through providing hands-on care and crucial support to patients and their families, the profession not only allows for quick entry into the healthcare field but also offers diverse work settings, continuous learning opportunities, and a clear pathway for career advancement.

Daily Job Duties

The essential job duties of a patient care technician include:

  • Escorting patients to appointments and procedures
  • Providing patient care such as bathing or feeding
  • Dispensing medications
  • Tracking patient food and liquid intake
  • Inserting catheters
  • Cleaning and sanitizing patient rooms
  • Removing stitches, changing dressings, and caring for wounds
  • Monitoring vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature
  • Collecting samples, such as blood or urine, and delivering them to the lab for testing
  • Assisting patients with mobility tasks like getting in and out of bed or exercising
  • Operating advanced medical equipment like ECG/EKG machines
  • Offering emotional support to patients and their families during stressful times
  • Supplying any additional help for patient needs

What is the Path to Becoming a Patient Care Technician

Most healthcare technicians must complete an official training program before beginning their careers in the field.

The steps to becoming a patient care technician include:

  1. Obtaining a high school diploma or GED
  2. Graduating from an accredited patient care technician degree program
  3. Completing an externship or practicum
  4. Taking and passing a certification exam
  5. Applying to PCT job openings

After gaining employment at a medical office, hospital, or another facility, patient care technicians also receive on-the-job training to acclimate them to that office’s procedures.

Certified PCTs must complete continuing education credits to keep their certification, too.

Following the completion of a Patient Care Technician training program, which may be offered by vocational schools or healthcare institutions, technicians progress from externship and apprenticeship positions to entry-level roles in hospitals and healthcare facilities.

As PCTs gain hands-on experience in these roles, they refine their skills in providing direct patient care and supporting healthcare teams.

Some may opt for specialized training in areas like dialysis or phlebotomy to diversify their expertise.

For those with ambitious aspirations, further education to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN) is a viable option, leading to roles with increased responsibilities and leadership opportunities.

Continuous professional development, participation in continuing education, and active involvement in professional networks contribute to the ongoing growth and success of a Patient Care Technician throughout their healthcare career.

Is Being a PCT Hard?

Whether a patient care technician’s job is hard or not depends mainly on the individual and whether they have the necessary skills and education. Working as a PCT certainly has its challenges, such as performing tasks under pressure and managing the emotions of multiple people.

However, patient care technician careers enable students to gain an education quickly, graduate with less debt than if they went to a four-year college, and start earning wages immediately. By spending less time in the classroom and more time in the field, PCTs begin making a difference in patients’ lives sooner.

Is Being a Patient Care Technician a Good Job?

Due to the aging of the general population and a national shortage of nursing professionals, patient care technicians should see increased job growth and more responsibilities. As elderly individuals enter nursing homes or assisted living facilities, these employers need trained PCTs to provide patient care.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics considers patient care technicians as part of the nursing assistants and orderlies occupation. Overall, the industry predicts a 5% growth in job outlook over the next decade. This equates to about 220,200 job openings for patient care technicians and similar careers each year.

Where Can a Patient Care Technician Work?

PCTs work in medical facilities that usually require round-the-clock care for patients. Schedules are full-time and often include holidays, weekends, and night shifts. Patient care technician jobs are available wherever doctors and nurses need assistants to help them tend to the everyday needs of their patients.

Some common places where PCTs find employment include hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living communities, home healthcare facilities, and specialty care units. Some PCTs may even specialize in a particular area of healthcare, such as kidney care, and work in dialysis treatment centers.

What Other Career Options Do Patient Care Techs Have?

Due to the advanced medical training and responsibilities that patient care technicians have, they also qualify for various careers. Those interested in becoming a PCT may also look into working as a:

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Becoming a Patient Care Tech in CA
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