What Does a Patient Care Associate Do?

More commonly referred to as a nurse's aide, a patient care associate assists the nursing staff in clinical settings to care for patients and ensure that the patient's needs are met. Read on to learn about the duties, education, and salary of a patient care associate. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Rapid changes in healthcare and the trend towards managed care systems have resulted in hospitals searching for different ways of staffing, downsizing, and making services more efficient to reduce costs, according to The Business Review (www.bizjournals.com). Hiring patient care associates in lieu of additional nurses are one way hospitals achieve this. A patient care associate has historically been known as a nurse's aide, but the job title of patient care associate in particular now requires more technical responsibilities of those who possess it.


A patient care associate assists professional nursing staff with routine patient care needs in a typical clinical setting. Such an associate provides communication, comfort, and safety to the patient. Patient care associates must provide basic patient care, such as bathing, bed making, skin care, incontinence care, and toileting duties. Additionally, many patient care associates will complete more medically-oriented work, such as obtaining specimens and checking vital signs, in addition to assisting patients with daily living activities.


Many patient care associates may find entry-level jobs that provide on-the-job training. For those seeking an advantage in a highly-competitive job market, an associate's degree is an excellent way to attain the knowledge needed to succeed as a patient care associate. Community colleges and vocational schools offer two-year associate's degree programs to teach students to work as nurse's aides or patient care associates. Most of the degree programs lead to either Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degrees that provide the graduate with the knowledge and technical skills to obtain employment and the basis for advancement, should they so choose.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, the majority of patient care associates earn between $18,999 and $40,431 a year, as of January 2014. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide information specific to the field of patient care aides, the BLS did project that the employment of nursing assistants and orderlies will likely grow by about 21% between 2012 and 2022. Among all nursing assistants, the median salary was $24,420 as of 2012.

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