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. Hiring patient care associates in lieu of additional nurses are one way hospitals achieve this. A patient care associate may sometimes be referred to 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.

Important Facts About Patient Care Associates

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent
Key Skills Situational awareness, clear verbal and written communication, customer focused, time management, close listening, attention to detail
Work Environment Hospitals or medical centers
Similar Occupations Certified nurse assistants (CNA); electrocardiogram (EKG) technicians; emergency room (ER) technicians; licensed practical nurses (LPN); medical assistants; patient care assistants (PCA)


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 $19,029 and $39,484 a year, as of September 2015. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 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 18% between 2014 and 2024. Among all nursing assistants, the median salary was $25,100 as of 2014.

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