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What Are the Job Duties of a Patient Care Technician?

The job duties of a patient care technician may range from helping patients with everyday tasks, such as eating and bathing, to assisting doctors and nurses with clinical procedures. If this sounds like an appealing job description, keep reading to learn more.

Career Overview

A patient care technician may also be called a hospital assistant, certified nurse assistant (CNA), patient care assistant, orderly, or nurse aide. Patient care technicians work with doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals in a variety of health care facilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), they most often work in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, rehabilitation clinics, and assisted living facilities.

Important Facts About Patient Care Technicians

On-the-Job Training Short-term training period administered by the employer
Key Skills Clear verbal and written communication, empathy, patience, physical endurance, reading comprehension, situational awareness
Work Environment Nursing care facilities; hospitals; residential care facilities; home health care services; government agencies; ambulatory health care services
Similar Occupations Home health aides; medical assistants; personal care aides; registered nurses; physical therapist assistants and aides; psychiatric technicians and aides

Duties and Responsibilities

Patient care technicians assist patients with tasks they are unable to do for themselves. A patient care technician may deliver food trays and help feed the patient if necessary. They may also help patients walk, perform range of motion exercises, or position themselves comfortably in their beds. Other job duties can include helping patients dress and bathe.

A patient care technician can also assist in basic medical procedures. This can include assisting doctors and nurses with treatments, reporting patient conditions, and recording vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. A patient care technician may also draw blood or help perform electrocardiographs.

Education and Training

An aspiring patient care technician can often get an entry-level job with a high school diploma or GED, according to the BLS. However, if you plan on working in a nursing care facility, such as a nursing home or inpatient rehabilitative center, you will need to become a certified nurse assistant (CNA). This process includes completing a training program approved by the state in which you plan to work. You will also need to pass written and practical skills examinations.

A number of schools' patient care technician certificate programs prepare students for these certification exams though their course curricula. Some programs also prepare students for the voluntary Certified Patient Care Technician exam offered by the National Healthcareer Association.

Employment and Salary

The employment of both nursing assistants and orderlies is expected to grow at a faster-than-average rate from 2016 to 2026, reports the BLS; the Bureau predicts that job opportunities in the field are projected to grow 11%. The median annual salary earned by nursing assistants, which includes nursing care attendants, nursing aides, and nursing attendants, was $28,540 in May 2018. Orderlies were reported to have earned a median of $28,060 a year in 2018, per the BLS.