What is a Patient Care Technician?

What Is a Patient Care Technician?

For those looking to enter the medical field, but aren’t ready to enter nursing or medical school, becoming a patient care technician can be a valuable career choice. They work one-on-one with patients while interfacing with the rest of the treatment team, and work in a variety of settings. In this article, we’re going to cover the role patient care technicians play within the medical community, what they do, where they work, and how this role differs from a medical assistant’s role.

Who Patient Care Technicians Are

Patient care technicians are trained to provide basic care in dialysis clinics, laboratories, doctor’s offices, and hospitals.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that these jobs will grow by nearly 20% between 2014 and 2024. The best patient care technicians are friendly, compassionate, and ready to work hands-on with patients and other members of the care team.

What Patient Care Technicians Do

Patient care technicians are trained in basic medical skills in addition to patient advocacy and safety. Many training programs are six months, offering students a chance to start their new career much faster than traditional four-year schools.

Upon graduation, patient care technicians are ready to help patients in these areas:

  • Basic nursing skills
  • Rehabilitation care
  • Care of surgical patients
  • Skills to assist in medical offices
  • Basic care to residents in long term care and patients in home care
  • Specialized skills to patients in acute care, rehab and surgical centers, doctor’s offices, and clinics
  • Entry-level skills in phlebotomy and EKG

Once complete, patient care technicians are eligible to take the state Competency Exam for Nurse Assistants (NACES), the American Medical Certification Association examination for Patient Care Technicians, and ECG Technicians & Phlebotomy Technicians.

Where Patient Care Technicians Work

Once training and certification is complete, individuals can work in dialysis clinics, laboratories, doctor’s offices, and hospitals. Patient care technicians can advance in their career by becoming a case manager or office manager, depending on their goals.

What’s the Difference Between a Patient Care Technician and a Medical Assistant?

A patient care technician’s work involves clinical care with patients including monitoring vital signs, changing bandages, preparing for procedures, and assisting with dialysis. Patient care technicians also monitor their client’s conditions and report back to the treatment team.

A medical assistant typically works in a doctor’s office as support for both administrative and clinical teams, which includes checking patients in, taking vital signs, and, depending on the state, giving injections as needed.

Entering the medical field as a patient care technician offers a foundation for a medical career so individuals can start working with patients in a number of different settings. From dialysis clinics to dressing changes and vitals, they have the opportunity to make a positive impact on patients’ lives, without spending extensive time and financial investment in their education.

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