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What is a Patient Care Technician (Comprehensive PCT Guide)

Patient care technicians have a significant role in healthcare settings as they are responsible for providing direct care and support to patients under the supervision of nurses and other medical professionals. Whether you’re considering a career as a patient care technician or already working as a PCT, this blog will provide you with all the information you want to know.

In this blog, we will discuss the role of patient care technicians along with their responsibilities. Moreover, we will draw a comparison between patient care technicians and medical assistants to let you know how both these roles are different. 

In addition, we will also cover details such as how much patient care technicians earn and what they need to do to advance their careers. So let’s start:

What is a Patient Care Technician?

A patient care technician is a healthcare professional who works closely with doctors, nurses, and other medical staff to provide care and support to patients. He is generally responsible for assisting patients with their basic needs. 

In addition, a patient care technician offers assistance in collecting patient information and performing specific medical procedures under a provider’s supervision.

What Does A Patient Care Technician Do?

Patient Hygiene and Comfort: 

PCTs assist patients with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and toileting. In addition, they help with turning and repositioning bedridden patients to prevent bedsores and provide overall comfort.

Vital Signs Monitoring: 

Patient care technicians are also responsible for regular measurement and record management of patient’s vital signs, including body temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. 

Assisting with Mobility:

Patient care technicians also help patients with mobility issues by moving them safely from beds to wheelchairs. In addition, they assist patients with walking and using assistive devices while ensuring patient safety during movement.

Collecting Specimens:

Collecting and labeling specimens, such as blood or urine samples, as requested by medical staff, is also done by a patient care technician, and he is solely responsible for ensuring proper handling and documentation of specimens for laboratory testing.

Basic Medical Procedures: 

A patient care technician is also eligible to perform basic medical procedures, such as applying dressings, changing wound dressings, and removing sutures or staples under the guidance of healthcare professionals.

Assisting During Medical Examinations: 

It’s also the duty of patient care technicians to prepare examination rooms, assist healthcare providers during physical examinations, and provide support to patients during treatments or tests.

Monitoring and Documenting: 

Another thing that patient care technicians are responsible for is observing and documenting patients’ physical and mental conditions, noting any changes or abnormalities. Furthermore, it’s their duty to maintain accurate and up-to-date patient records.

Patient Support: 

Patient care technicians also provide emotional support to patients by communicating with them and their families, answering questions, providing explanations, and addressing concerns within their scope of practice.

Equipment Maintenance: 

PCTs also ensure that medical equipment, such as blood pressure monitors, oxygen tanks, and wheelchairs, are clean, functional, and properly stored. They are also responsible for setting up equipment for medical procedures.

Patient Care Technician Vs Medical Assistant: A Comparison

Job Responsibilities:

Patient care technicians primarily focus on providing direct patient care. They assist patients with activities of daily living. In addition, they assist healthcare providers with various tasks, such as collecting specimens and performing basic medical procedures under supervision.

On the other hand, medical assistants have a broader range of responsibilities. They perform both administrative and clinical tasks. Medical assistants are also responsible for scheduling appointments, managing patient records, and handling billing and coding. In addition, they take patient histories, prepare patients for examinations, administer medications, and assist with minor procedures.

Training and Education:

A patient care technician usually has to complete a certificate or diploma program that focuses on basic patient care skills. The training duration can vary but is often shorter compared to that of medical assistants.

A medical assistant has to be a graduate of a one- or two-year program that covers both administrative and clinical aspects of the role. These programs are offered at vocational schools, community colleges, or technical institutes.

Scope of Practice:

PCTs work under the supervision of nurses or other healthcare professionals. They perform tasks that are within their defined scope of practice and are trained to provide direct patient care, but they generally do not have the authority to administer medications or perform invasive procedures.

Medical assistants also work under supervision. However, they have more autonomy depending on state regulations and the policies of the healthcare facility. Moreover, they are generally authorized to administer medications, conduct certain tests, and perform minor procedures like removing sutures.

Work Settings:

Patient care technicians are commonly employed in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and rehabilitation centers, where they have to work directly with patients, often in bedside or hands-on care roles.

Medical assistants are found in a variety of healthcare settings, including physician offices, clinics, hospitals, and specialty practices. They have a broader range of responsibilities, and they work in both administrative and clinical capacities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is there any certification required to work as a patient care technician? 

While certification is not always required to work as a patient care technician, it is highly recommended. Getting certifications such as CPCT and CNA helps patient care technicians with job prospects.

Can I advance my career as a patient care technician? 

Yes, there are opportunities for career advancement for you as a patient care technician. With higher education and experience, you can pursue higher-level positions such as licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), or specialize in a specific area of healthcare, such as dialysis technician or medical assistant.

How much do patient care technicians earn? 

The salary of a patient care technician varies depending on factors such as location, level of experience, and work setting. On average, patient care technicians earn a competitive salary of $38,500 per year.


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