What Is A Patient Care Technician?

Written by on July 22, 2013 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments

A successful pretty woman nurse outside hospital office building

The healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing in terms of job growth and potential. If you are interested in a career in healthcare, becoming a patient care technician may provide a great opportunity for personal satisfaction and job security.

Depending on your location, this position may be referred to as a patient care assistant. A PCT or PCA is a health professional that works closely with doctors and nurses and other medical staff to provide care for ill or disabled patients.  The responsibility for monitoring the patient’s daily condition and providing direct care and assistance rests primarily with a nurse and a PCT, who work together to carry out physicians’ orders. Here are some examples of what a PCT may be asked to do on a typical day:

  • Measure and record vital signs in the patient’s chart, such as temperature, blood pressure and pulse.
  • Assist the patient with daily care activities such as bathing and shaving.
  • Monitor and record the patient’s food and liquid intake.
  • Collect and test urine specimens.
  • Perform an EKG.
  • Assist the patient with walking and range of motion activities.
  • Discontinue the patient’s IV.
  • Answer the patient’s call bell.
  • Irrigate and bandage a laceration or wound.

A patient care assistant can be employed in a number of healthcare facilities. In addition to a traditional hospital setting, they work at nursing facilities, rehabilitation centers, surgical centers, dialysis clinics, burn centers and wound care facilities. Each specialty offers the PCT an opportunity to receive additional education and certification and become more involved in patient care.

In addition to the training they receive to perform direct patient care, PCTs are also trained in handling hazardous material, sanitary techniques, documentation requirements and handling medical records. They will work with housekeeping staff to make sure patients’ rooms are adequately cleaned and sterilized and that biohazards such as needles and dressings are properly contained and disposed of. They will work with nursing staff and unit clerical staff to make sure that adequate records are kept and the patient’s privacy is maintained.

Although patient care technicians work under the supervision of the nursing staff, they have the most direct interaction with their patients on a daily basis and have a lot of autonomy in carrying out their duties. Most PCTs choose this career because they have a natural affinity for people and enjoy interacting with their patients and families. They have empathy and compassion for their patients and they are able to establish good rapport with them. PCTs must be independent and show good judgment; often they are the first to respond to a patient’s call and must be able to make a quick assessment as to whether they are able to handle the situation or if other professionals should be consulted. Because PCTs spend more time directly involved in daily care, they are often most able to spot changes in a patient’s condition and bring them to the attention of nursing staff or physicians.

Patient care technicians are a valuable and important part of the patient’s care team. Becoming a PCT is a great start in the nursing pathway; many PCTs go on to earn nursing degrees. Many others, however, find it a satisfying and rewarding career because it allows more time to develop relationships with patients than many other healthcare professions.


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