The demand for medical professionals will never subside. The population of many countries is aging. More and more people are developing lifestyle diseases and new epidemics are breaking out regularly. So obviously, medical professionals will always be in huge demand.
When it comes to the healthcare sector, everyone from the lab technician to the surgeon has an important role to play. Of course, doctors and nurses earn a lot more than nursing assistants and lab technicians. Still, these entry-level professionals are crucial for the smooth functioning of the healthcare sector and cannot be replaced.
Patient care technicians (PCTs) are one such group of professionals who offer essential patient care. The demand for patient care technicians is expected to increase by 18% by the year 2030.
A patient care technician (PCTs) works under a nurse and helps them ensure the well-being of their patients. They usually work behind the scene and take care of the technical aspects of the treatment. PCTs also have the option to upgrade their skill and become registered nurses or a doctor in the future.
Tens of thousands of new jobs are added to the healthcare sector every year. So, healthcare professionals enjoy a secure job and a stable source of income. A job in healthcare is quite rewarding too. It is ideal for people who enjoy caring for sick people.
What is a patient care technician?
Patient care technicians work under a registered nurse and perform a variety of tasks. They often help with taking the vital signs of patients. They also help to move them around a clinic. Their primary job is to ensure that patients receive excellent care.
The primary duties of patient care technicians include the following:
- Interacting with patients and their families and providing them with emotional support
- Collecting biological samples such as blood, urine, and stool and taking them to the laboratory for testing
- Checking their vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse, and temperature
- Performing some medical tests and recording their results
- Feeding patients and ensuring that their food and water intake is adequate
- Reporting any concerns regarding the patient’s health to their nurse or doctor
- Accompanying patients for an x-ray or another examination
- Helping patients to move about
Patient care technician salary
The average annual salary of a patient care technician is about $30,290 (about $14.56 per hour). The demand for patient care technicians is expected to increase between 2020 and 2030.
Types of patient care technicians
PCTs work in several different healthcare settings. They work in hospitals, physician’s offices, nursing homes, and laboratories. While most jobs in this sector are generic, there is also scope for specialization. These specialists need extra education and training.
A telemetry technician performs EKGs and monitors the heart waveforms of patients. When there is a change in the heartbeat, they notify the nurses or medical team.
A dialysis technician works with kidney patients and stops and starts dialysis for them. They have to keep the dialysis machine sterile and offer emotional support to their patients.
Hospital patient care technician
They are usually assigned to certain patients and work regular shifts in a hospital. They monitor the vital signs of their patients and help them with their IVs, gastric tubes, catheters, and wounds. Patience and compassion are integral traits of a hospital patient care technician.
Emergency room technician
An emergency room technician works in the emergency room. They review the medical histories of their patients, take their vital signs and gather important information. They also assist doctors to perform various medical examinations.
The job of a rehabilitation technician is to offer support to patients with mental or substance abuse disorders. They help their patients perform their basic living needs and offer emotional support to stabilize their behavior.
A phlebotomist draws blood and tissue samples for laboratory testing. They also assist with blood transfusions. They work in hospitals, laboratories, blood donation banks, and nursing homes.
How to become a patient care technician
You need both workplace and technical skills to become a good patient care technician.
The minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma or GED. Educational requirements vary depending on the type of patient care technician you want to become and the state you want to work in.
In many states, you have to complete a CNA training program at a vocational or community school. These programs teach you medical terminology, physiology, anatomy, patient safety, pharmacology, medical laws, and so on.
You will also acquire important technical skills like giving first aid, caring for wounds, and performing CPR and catheterization. An internship in a hospital or similar setting is usually a part of these programs and allows you to put the skills you learn to practice. These are usually two-year full-time programs.
After completing the training program, you have to pass the Certified Patient Care Technician/Assistant (CPCT/A) certification exam. In some states, you may require additional certifications and there will be a background check as well.
For some people, a career in patient care is actually a stepping stone to a more lucrative career in nursing. While pursuing their studies for another career in the medical field, they may work as a patient care technician. This gives them first-hand experience of what it is like to work in the healthcare sector and helps them understand the demands of the job. What is more, working as a PCT allows them to earn enough to fund their nursing or medical studies.
Patient care technician skills
One of the main reasons people choose a healthcare career is that they genuinely enjoy interacting with people and helping them. Also, in every society, healthcare professionals are treated with great respect. Salaries are good too. Of course, this is a demanding job. You may have to work odd hours. You will probably be working on weekends or holidays. Still, the satisfaction you gain from knowing that you are making a positive difference to a sick person is immense. This is exactly what drives many people into this sector.
A patient care technician should have good listening skills. They should enjoy patient care. While this is an entry level job, it is important to remember that you are an integral part of the healthcare team and you play an active role in saving lives. Your support helps patients get through pain and suffering.
Sick people are not always able to communicate their needs effectively. As a patient care technician, you should observe their behavior closely and guess their needs. You may also have to communicate with their families and address their concerns. PCTs may have to feed their patients and bathe them. They may also have to perform other tasks required to keep patients clean and hygienic. Knowledge of basic first aid and CPR is integral too.
Ensuring that the patient is safe at all times is one of the primary responsibilities of a patient care technician. They should show utmost care while transporting patients between bed and wheelchair or escorting them to the bathroom. Keeping the room safe from potential sources of infection is also part of their job.
Problem solving skills
When patients talk to you about their problems, you have to find a way to solve them quickly. This could be something as simple as changing their bedding. Sometimes more serious concerns need to be addressed too. It is crucial to promptly communicate all concerns to a nurse.