Patient Care Technician

Patient Care Technician Job Description & Scope of Practice
A patient care technician (PCT) takes care of patients as they receive health care.  The PCT is not a nurse but does work alongside doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners.

A (PCT) interfaces with patients in all areas of care including:

  • Assisting patients with general tasks (eating, bathing, personal care)
  • Takes care of immediate patient’s needs
  • Assists with wound treatment
  • Helps assess and plan patient care
  • Assists with a patient’s nutritional needs
  • Helps patients with mobility
  • Assists doctors and nurses with patient care
  • Performs miscellaneous functions

How to Become a Patient Care Technician

This position does not require a nursing degree; however, the PCT should have graduated from a PCT program through an educational center or college.  Those who work in this area of expertise may work in one of many settings including a hospital, clinic, rehabilitation center, hospice, long-term care facility, cancer clinic, or retirement facility.  A PCT should have good interpersonal skills because they will be working directly with patients on a daily basis.

Many of those who take specialty care programs may want to take the Certified Nursing Assistant exam upon completion of the educational program to become a CNA.  The CNA certification will provide the PCT with the credentials that will create future job opportunities.  Some medical facilities or clinics prefer to hire applicants with the CAN certificate.  This position may be considered a stepping stone while pursuing a nursing degree.

Patient Care Technician Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs

A technician will need to have a high school diploma, or equivalent, and complete specialized training for PCT.  Students should graduate from an accredited program that offers a combination of classroom lectures and laboratory facilities.  Many programs also provide externships where students can complete their studies in a real working environment.  Some of these programs are offered through local technical schools and can be completed in less than two years.

Choose a program that offers both classroom and practical training to get a well-rounded education.  Programs may also offer externships where students will receive classroom credit while working off campus at a medical facility.  Additionally, some of these programs offer flexible class schedules so that you can work while attending classes. Some courses provide specialized training in a particular area of medicine.

The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offers the following certifications for patient-care technicians: Certified Patient Care Technician (CPCT), Certified Patient Care Associate (CPCA) and Certified Nurse Technician (CNT). In order to sit for the exam, applicants must have sufficient training or one year experience as a nurse technician. The exam takes three hours and 30 minutes to complete and consists of 200 questions. Although certification is voluntary, employers increasingly look to hire certified individuals.

Patient Care Technician Salary and Career Outlook

The need for all types of medical professionals is expected to increase through the coming decades.  The technician is a necessary part of every medical facility and hospital.  The employment outlook for this entry level position will certainly increase as the number of patients that need medical assistance increases.

A PCT with a CNA designation should expect to earn $20 to $35 per hour.  In general, the technicians with the most experience will be able to reach higher salaries. Most of these positions are hourly employees while some may be salaried.  The position may require flexible hours and you may expect some overtime.