Learn about the skills and tasks of this essential healthcare role
Patient care technicians (PCTs) provide basic care patient care, such as helping a patient with personal hygiene, taking vital signs, drawing blood, and preparing lab specimens. They have a high-level of direct patient contact and play an important role on a team that also includes doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.
Patient care technicians gain knowledge and skills that go beyond a traditional nursing assistant role, by training to provide a higher-level of patient care. Some settings where a PCT may work include hospitals or emergency rooms, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, hospice units, and private homes.
Here is an overview of life as a PCT who works in a hospital or ER:
A PCT ensures that patients understand how to take their medications, and that they are receiving and taking the proper dosages. They assist patients with meals, in moving about their rooms, and with walking exercise.
A work day of a PCT in this setting is often fast-paced and includes a broad array of tasks. Here are a few examples of what you might do if you choose to work in this setting:
- Draw blood and deliver the sample to the lab for testing.
- Enter data into the electronic medical records (EMR) system while a doctor examines a patient.
- Administer an EKG and then provide the doctor with a copy of the results to review.
- Transport patients to diagnostic testing, such as X-rays or MRIs.
- Deliver specimens to the lab for testing.
- Help patients move about their rooms or assist them in the restroom.
- Transport patients via wheelchairs or beds between various departments in the hospital.
- Assist a doctor during a procedure such as wound suturing, setting broken bones, or immobilizing a sprain.
- Provide comfort and understanding to patients undergoing procedures or recovering from surgery, injury, or illness.
- Assist a nurse in preparing a room for a patient by changing bed linens, or doing general clean-up of a room after a patient is discharged.
- Administer First Aid or CPR.
- Care for patients with catheters and feeding tubes.
Whether you work in the ER or on another floor in a hospital, you'll be working with patients who have a wide range of physical needs. A good PCT is focused on communicating well with both patients and co-workers. Good PCTs are also team-oriented, attentive, and organized. PCTs may also offer emotional care and support to their patients, so good listening skills are a plus, as is being patient and compassionate.
Learn more about what it takes to be a good patient-care technician. This could be the first step towards an exciting new career in healthcare!
This article is part of the Harris Casel Institute’s weekly blog. We conveniently offer many career training programs at our campus in Melbourne, FL. Contact us online for more info!