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What Are the Responsibilities of a Patient Care Technician?

Dec 04, 2008

A patient care technician works as part of the health care team assisting nurses, doctors, and other health care professionals with everyday tasks relating to patient care.  The job outlook is great for patient care technicians and it is an excellent entry-level medical career.  Many patient care technicians continue to pursue other careers in medical-related fields once they have worked in the field and gained some experience. 

Job Requirements

The exact job requirements of a patient care technician are dependent on where he or she works.  All departments in hospitals whether they be rehabilitation floors, emergency rooms, or even intensive care units have patient care technicians that work in the department to help with patient care.  Jobs of the patient care technician might include assisting patients with activities of daily living such as brushing patient's teeth or hair, assisting them to walk around, and helping the patients get dressed or bathe.  Special training might be available within the hospital or facility where they work to be able to do more things.  Cross training to other fields allows the patient care tech to make more money.  For example, the patient care technician might do special training within the hospital where she works to be able to practice phlebotomy, or drawing blood. When a patient is ordered lab work on the floor where she works, she is able to draw the blood and send it right down, instead of a lab tech coming up to draw it. Patient care technicians might also be trained in blood glucose monitoring, dressing changes, or even urinary catheter insertion.

While the requirements for employment as a patient care technician vary as well, usually all that is required is a high school diploma or GED. The hospital or place where the patient care technician works will usually provide some on-the-job training if the technician has no experience or limited experience. 

Where Can Patient Care Technicians Find Jobs?

Hospitals are not the only place looking for compassionate and motivated patient care technicians.  Excellent employment opportunities are waiting for the aspiring patient care technician at long-term care facilities and assisted living facilities.  This is because there is a shortage of many types of licensed health care providers.  Most facilities help to ease the burden of nursing staff by providing patient care technicians to do some tasks formerly done by licensed practical nurses or registered nurses.  Tasks like repositioning patients, changing bed linens, feeding patients, bathing patients, and helping them to perform various diagnostic tests are all examples of tasks that used to be solely a nursing responsibility.  Now these tasks are delegated to a non-licensed person, such as a patient care technician.

Are There Opportunities for Advancement?

There are many opportunities for advancement once you have accepted a career as a patient care technician.  You may be required to be trained in other areas such as phlebotomy or wound care once you start your job.  Usually the more things you are able to do at your job, the better your compensation will be.  Many patient care technicians go on to pursue other careers in a medical-related field, but use their position to get their foot in the door so to speak.  Sometimes the patient care technician decides that a career in nursing or another related field is what she wants to do, but is able to get experience in a hospital setting by working as a patient care technician.

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