Assisting Patients with a Patient Care Technician Degree

If you are looking for an entry role within the health care industry becoming a patient care technician (PCT) is a good starting point. The job responsibilities of a PCT are similar to those of a certified nurse’s aid (CNA) with some medical care added. Becoming a certified patient care technician will prepare you for work primarily assisting patients under direct supervision of a registered nurse or doctor.

Typical job duties of a PCT are taking vital signs, phlebotomy (drawing blood), assisting during medical exams and changing dressings. Responsibilities may also include those usually performed by a CNA, such as feeding, walking, exercising and cleaning patients.

Being a patient care technician can be a very rewarding career for people who genuinely like to help others and can spend all day helping patients. It is also a way to work in the healthcare industry with only two years of education.

Patient Care Technician Degree Information

Completing a certificate patient care technician program normally takes up to two years with the coursework covering topics as varied as:

  • Health care terminology
  • Nutrition
  • CPR
  • Medical Safety
  • Medical laws and ethics
  • Clinical practice principles
  • Human anatomy.
Certified patient care technician programs are offered at two-year colleges and proprietary schools.

Patient Care Technician Certification

Most PCT jobs are available only to those who have achieved certification as well as graduating from an accredited program. In order to take the certification examination you must perform at least 40 hours of clinical training in addition to the formal education. Prospective candidates must be certified nurse’s assistants, able to draw blood, and have electrocardiogram (EKG) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) licenses. Certification is offered by the National Health Career Association

Once certification has been attained, patient care technicians can choose to further their academic qualifications by enrolling for a nursing degree at a top accredited school.

Getting a Degree Online

Getting a distance education can be a good option for a patient care technician. You could attend classes online at convenient hours while gaining valuable experience working in a healthcare setting. Just be sure any program you choose is accredited. Use our “Search Schools” form on this page to find online and offline programs that best fit your needs.

Career Opportunities

Patient care technicians provide critical support services to nurses and physicians in many settings. Hospitals and long-term care facilities are large employers. Technicians also work in rehabilitation clinics and physicians’ offices.

Earning Potential

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010 the average salary for a patient care technician was $28,860. Earning potential and responsibilities will increase if you choose to complete further education within the allied health profession.

Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates growth for patient care technicians to increase 31% between 2010 and 2020, which it considers much faster than average. This is mostly due to an aging population that requires more medical care. Patient care technicians and other healthcare occupations are considered growing, stable careers.

Patient Care Technician FAQ

What are the duties of a patient care technician?

Typically a working week of a qualified patient care technician will involve organizing patient charts, acquiring patient histories, prepping medical procedures, checking and overseeing wound and injury dressing, coordinating test procedures and generally prepping patients in advance of any medical procedure.

How is a patient care technician different from a certified nurse’s aid?

Certified nurse’s aids are responsible for the actual care of patients and their day-to-day needs. They help ill and recovering patients with basic hygiene, getting exercise and related tasks. Patient care technicians, a much newer profession, may overlap duties with a CNA; however, they are additionally trained to provide basic medical care to patients.

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