How to Become a Patient Care Technician?


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Patient Care Technicians provide empathy and care to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities. These compassionate individuals assist doctors and nurses and work hands-on with patients, taking & monitoring patient vitals, reporting and recording any issues, and helping patients with activities of daily living they may not be able to do themselves as prescribed by a licensed health care provider.


If you desire to work in the hospital setting or one-on-one with patients and develop relationships with those you assist, as well as become a part of a multidisciplinary team, becoming a Patient Care Technician may be a good fit for you.


If you want to become a Patient Care Technician, consider enrolling in Florida Career College's Patient Care Technician Program. You can graduate from this program and earn your diploma in as little as 10 months, placing you on the fast track to beginning a new and rewarding career in the healthcare field.

What is a Patient Care Technician?

A Patient Care Technician is a healthcare professional who works at a patient’s bedside, helping with basic daily needs and assisting the doctors and nurses in monitoring the patient’s treatment.


The basic responsibilities of a patient care technician can include assisting patients with nutritional needs, grooming/hygiene, transferring, and ambulation (Walking) of patients who are unable to do these tasks alone safely. They may also be responsible for ensuring the comfort and safety of patients in all clinical settings.


The Patient Care Technician may also be responsible for clinical skills such as collecting blood or urine samples, running electrocardiograms and other monitoring equipment, assisting with wound care, and more.


Patient Care Technicians are needed in hospitals, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, assisted living homes, physician offices, and other patient-care facilities. Because they work so closely with patients, they often develop close relationships with those they are assisting.

What Does a Patient Care Technician Do?

A Patient Care Technician protects the dignity and comfort of their patients by assisting with simple, everyday tasks in a compassionate manner. They may help geriatric, pediatric, or disabled patients according to prescribed orders and are an intricate part of the care plan process. They assist with any task that may make their patient more comfortable. They are also a vital part of the care team as they assist nurses and doctors with a variety of tasks and may be the first to notice changes in a patient’s health. Patient Care Technicians are more than Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) because they possess additional skills training that allows them to collect specimens and operate certain medical equipment.

How to Become a Patient Care Technician?

You can become a Patient Care Technician and begin working directly with patients in an entry-level position in as few as 10 months.


Step 1: Obtain Your High School Diploma

The first step to becoming a Patient Care Technician is to obtain your high school diploma. Most Patient Care Technician Training Programs will require you to have your high school diploma or GED before you can begin training. If you already have your high school diploma, then you are ready to begin training!


Step 2: Begin a Training Program

The second step to becoming a Patient Care Technician is to find and complete a Patient Care Technician Training Program, such as the program offered by Florida Career College.

During a patient care technician training program, you’ll learn more about the human body and the function & purpose of each system. You will be introduced to important medical terms and to the different roles medical professionals play in serving their patients.

Most importantly, you will learn the hands-on skills necessary to provide the best care possible for your patients. You’ll be taught the basics of phlebotomy, hematology, CPR, EKGs, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and respiratory therapy.

At the conclusion of your training, you will have the opportunity to put those skills into practice before you graduate, so you can feel good about beginning your search for a position. During an externship, you’ll work under the direct supervision of a preceptor (nurse) as you care for real patients and provide real support. This 80-hour externship is vital to making sure you feel confident, competent, and comfortable working in the healthcare setting and using the skills you’ve learned.


Step 3: Receive Your Certification

The third step to becoming a Patient Care Technician is to take and pass a certification exam. A good training program will prepare you to take the National Health Career Association exam to become a Certified Patient Care Technician. You must pass this exam before you can be hired as a PCT, and you cannot take the exam without first passing a training program. Some states, such as Florida, require Patient Care Technicians also to be Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) as the clinical settings require competency in bedside skills related to direct patient care. The exact certification requirements vary by state, so it’s important to know the regulations where you live.

Once you have your certification, you’ll be ready to find an entry-level position. Many training programs, like Florida Career College, offer help finding and applying for open positions. We’ll help create a resume you can be proud of and even go over interviewing skills.


Step 4: Find a Position

After you've earned a Patient Care Technician Program, you should begin looking for open, entry-level positions as a Patient Care Technician.

What Are the Duties of Patient Care Technicians?

A typical day as a Patient Care Technician may include:

  • Recording patient vitals, including heart rate, pulse, and blood pressure
  • Collecting blood or urine samples for analysis
  • Performing electrocardiograms on a patient to monitor heart activity
  • Demonstrate good communication skills as an advocate for patient care and concerns.
  • Recording & reporting signs & symptoms to supervising doctor or nurse
  • Helping patients with personal hygiene, grooming, and toileting.
  • Transporting patients to other areas of the facility for treatment or diagnostics services
  • Assisting patients with nutrition (orally and through feeding tubes)
  • Monitoring and recording a patient’s activities of daily living and noting any significant changes in health status
  • Helping patients with Range of motion exercises as prescribed by a physician or licensed physical therapist.
  • Providing proper and clean linen care to ensure comfort and cleanliness and prevents skin breakdown.

What is the Difference Between a Patient Care Technician and a Medical Assistant?

While both are vital to the medical field, there is a great difference between the roles and responsibilities of Medical Assistants and Patient Care Technicians.


Medical Assistants work closely with the doctor, usually in an office or exam room, to track patient vitals, administer medications, administer vaccines, and keep medical records. They perform many administrative tasks like following up with patients, printing lab referrals, scheduling, and filing. They may see dozens of patients each day.


Patient Care Technicians work more closely with the nurse and a multidisciplinary team of health care providers to deliver holistic care to the patient in the clinical setting, at home, or in assisted living care facilities, depending on their area of interest.


Patient Care Technician administrative tasks are usually confined to recording patient information and task in the EHR systems, whether at home or in a clinical setting. Patient Care Technicians may provide direct, compassionate care to patients who need daily, ongoing assistance as well as technical skills as needed for the patient care setting they choose to work.

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Patient Care Technician?

Patient Care Technicians need a good balance of technical and social skills to succeed. Here are some of the skills you will need to succeed in this field:


Technical skills/knowledge:

  • How to perform CPR
  • How to check a patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, and pulse
  • How to draw blood
  • How to change a catheter
  • Dietary/Fluid Intake and Output
  • How to clean and dress a wound
  • How to perform Range-of-Motion exercise for upper and lower extremities
  • How to remove stitches or staples
  • How to assist patients with respiratory care, oxygen needs, and tracheostomy care.
  • How to care for the unconscious, altered mental status patient
  • How to care for psychiatric, dementia, cognitively impaired patient
  • How to physically lift or move a person safely using appropriate assistive devices
  • How to safely assist a patient with a shower or bath
  • How to perform an EKG and recognize basic rhythms
  • Familiarity with medical terms
  • How to assist with the nursing process and treatment plans


Interpersonal skills:

  • Empathy - It’s difficult for anyone to have to depend on another person for basic needs. Working so closely with patients who need assistance requires great empathy for what they are going through. It’s important for anyone in this position to treat others the way they would want to be treated.
  • Patience - The tasks that Patient Care Technicians may be asked to do are sometimes looked at as simple tasks. It takes great patience to do these tasks without complaint and with compassion.
  • Respect - Many Patient Care Technicians serve patients who are near the end of their life. It’s important to have respect for all they have been through.
  • Clear communication - Patient Care Technicians are often a listening ear for their patients. They provide close care and may be the first to hear of new concerns. You should have the ability to listen to these concerns, take note of them and share any updates with the supervising doctor or nurse.
  • Flexibility - You never know what the day may bring in the healthcare field. It’s important to be open to serving patients in the best way possible, no matter what that may look like.
  • Attention to Detail - Working alongside a patient day in and day out, you become familiar with certain patterns. A good Patient Care Technician will keep an eye out for any small changes and report that to a supervisor.


A Patient Care Technician also needs to have some physical abilities. These abilities include:

  • Able to stand or be on your feet for long periods of time
  • Ability to lift or move another person
  • General good health to avoid passing any illnesses on to patients

Where Do Patient Care Technicians Work?

1. Nursing Homes

PCTs in nursing homes may help patients near the end of their life with grooming and hygiene. They may also help transport patients from their room to the dining room or from their room to an exam room for medical treatment.


2. Hospitals

A PCT in a hospital may help patients with daily tasks during recovery from a serious health incident. This position may include more administrative duties to stay organized in a sometimes fast-paced environment. Hospitals may also assign a PCT to work in a specific department and allow you to become an expert on different ailments and their treatments.


3. Rehabilitation Clinics

PCTs working in a rehabilitation clinic are often a compassionate ear for the patients they are assisting as they recover from significant physical trauma. PCTs in this setting should have training on physical therapy and recovery treatments.


4. Home Health Care

PCTs in a home health care setting may build strong relationships with their patients as they work inside their homes and assist with meals, grooming, and even some household chores.


5. Long-term Care Centers or Assisted Living Facilities

Group homes and long-term care homes are primarily for disabled patients who are unable to care for themselves physically. PCTs in these settings play a vital role in ensuring their patients are cared for physically and mentally.

Do You Need a College Degree to Become a Patient Care Technician?

You do not need a college degree to become a Patient Care Technician, but you do need a certificate or diploma from a training program. As with most jobs, the more education and training you can list on your resume, the more likely you are to get an interview or be hired for the job.


Working closely with patients as a Patient Care Technician requires a significant amount of specialized training. Patient Care Technicians must be familiar with medical terms and the healthcare system. They must know how to take a patient’s vitals, collect blood or urine samples, and operate medical equipment.


They must also have training on how to care for geriatric or disabled patients. The Patient Care Technician is often the one to change a patient’s sheets, help them cloth or bath themselves, and may even help with feeding. A Patient Care Technician also needs training to be able to safely move a patient for their comfort or for a medical procedure. A Patient Care Technician is an important part of a patient’s medical team, and their training helps them recognize any issues that should be reported to the supervising doctor.

What Are the Educational Requirements To Enroll in FCC’s Patient Care Technician Program?

There are no educational requirements to enroll in FCC’s Patient Care Technician Program. If you are at least 17 years old and have already achieved your high school diploma, you are permitted to enroll in FCC's Patient Care Technician Program. After enrolling in the PCT Program, you can earn your Patient Care Technician Diploma in as little as 10 months!

How Long is the Patient Care Technician Program?

If you have always wanted to work directly with patients in a medical setting, becoming a Patient Care Technician is a quick way to achieve that dream. You can become a Patient Care Technician in as few as 10 months. Florida Career College’s Patient Care Technician program includes eight training modules which each take about a month to complete. The program ends with an 80-hour externship in a real medical setting in your community to put your learned skills into practice and gain experience.

At the end of the program, you’ll be prepared to take the certification exam and find employment as a Patient Care Technician.

What Do You Learn in the Patient Care Technician Program?

The Patient Care Technician Program at Florida Career College will prepare you with the technical skills and knowledge to begin an entry-level position as a Patient Care Technician. You’ll be taught geriatric care, patient assistance, and nursing assistance. Some of the skills you will learn include the following:


  • Patient care procedures
  • Infection control
  • Physical comfort and safety functions
  • CPR
  • Respiratory Aide functions
  • Cardiac skills
  • Operating aerosol inhalers, resuscitators, mechanical ventilators, and oxygen tanks
  • Recognize symptoms of common diseases
  • Perform electrocardiogram and diagnostic imaging procedures
  • Laboratory procedures
  • Urine analysis procedures
  • Hematology procedures
  • Phlebotomy (drawing blood)


The program will also cover interpersonal skills and professionalism to help students find and keep stable employment. We’ll talk about written and verbal communication in a healthcare setting and practice these skills in the classroom, including proper punctuation, capitalization, spelling, writing, and grammar. Our courses also cover ethics in medicine, confidentiality, cultural diversity, and professional development.


Students in this course will become familiar with clinical procedures, medical terms, and occupational therapy treatment plans and will be prepared to work in a hospital, rehabilitation clinic, assisted living facility, nursing home, or long-term care facility. PCT Program Courses include:

  • Introduction to Allied Health for Patient Care Technician
  • Electrocardiography and Diagnostic Imaging for Patient Care Technicians
  • Phlebotomy and Hematology for Patient Care Technicians
  • Articulated Nursing Assistant
  • Advanced Home Health Aid with CPR Training
  • Patient Care Assistant
  • Respiratory Therapy Aide
  • Occupational Therapy and Geriatric Aide
  • Externship

Should You Become a Patient Care Technician?

Patient Care Technicians play a crucial role in caring for patients who are unable to care for themselves. Patient Care Technicians must be empathetic, driven, and strong physically and mentally in order to do their job well. If you have a heart for caring for others and feel like you would thrive working directly with patients, then you should consider becoming a Patient Care Technician. There are always pros and cons of any job. Here are a few pros and cons of working as a Patient Care Technician.


Pros of a Career as a Patient Care Technician:


1. You get to help people in a very personal way.

The work of a Patient Care Technician is necessary and personal. You will be helping people who cannot help themselves with their most basic needs. This type of work builds strong bonds between you and your patients as well as the family members they are close to.


2. It’s very rewarding.

At the end of each day and even each task, you can know you’re making a difference by caring for others and helping them improve their health.


3. You can play a vital role in the medical field.

When you begin a career in the medical field you begin gaining skills that give you endless opportunities for advancement. With more experience, training, certifications, or education, you can continue to grow your career in whatever way you like.


4. You can get started quickly.

You can become a Patient Care Technician in as few as ten months with training through Florida Career College.


Cons of a Patient Care Technician Career:


1. Many Patient Care Technicians are asked to work evenings or weekends.

Patients who need assistance with grooming, eating, or moving need this type of assistance at all hours. You may not have a typical schedule.


2. It can be very emotional work.

You may be working with patients at the end of their life or with serious medical issues and assisting them with very basic needs. While this work is incredibly rewarding if you have the heart for it, it also requires a great deal of self-care to do it well.

What Should You Look for in a Patient Care Technician Program?

If you’ve decided to begin training to become a Patient Care Technician, choosing your training program carefully is important. There are many options online and in person for this type of training.


Here are a few things to consider when selecting the program that’s right for you:


Experience. You should look for a program that offers hands-on experiences. The work of a Patient Care Technician is very physically demanding, so you want to make sure you have the opportunity to practice before you get out on the field. In addition to hands-on experiences throughout the program, you should look for a school that will give you hands-on experience out in the community. An externship is your opportunity to practice your skills, learn from new mentors, make connections and gain experience that can go on your resume after graduation.


Instructor Experience. You should also ask about the experience of the instructors in the program. Have they worked in the field before? Are they able to provide real-life examples of how they would solve certain problems?


Flexibility. It’s important to find a program that works for your life. Going back to school is always a commitment, so you want to make sure you can be in class when you need to be and get your work done. Ask about the schedule of the course and consider how it may impact your ability to work if that’s something you need to continue doing. How much of the learning can you do virtually? How often are assignments due? How often do you need to be in person?


Support. When considering different programs, ask about the ways the school supports its students. Look into whether or not the school offers tutoring, extra lab time, or financial assistance. Does the school have any systems in place to help students find employment once they graduate?

Consider Enrolling in Florida Career College’s Patient Care Technician Program!

Florida Career College can help you gain the skills and knowledge you need to begin a career as a Patient Care Technician. We’ll teach you all you need to know to pass your certification exam and find an entry-level position in the field.


Florida Career College is unique because of our support for our students. From the moment you take a tour of our campus, you’ll be able to see and feel the support of the staff. We’ll show you all the programs we offer and help answer any questions you may have about our Financial Aid Programs.


Once enrolled, students are on campus twice a week for in-person, hands-on lab experiences where we put the concepts taught in lectures into practice. During these classes, you’ll actually draw blood and role play assisting a patient through occupational therapy. Students who wish to have more practice can ask for tutoring or attend open lab time.


At the end of your training, you’ll complete an externship at a medical facility in your community. You’ll work directly with patients, under a doctor’s or nurse’s supervision, and see firsthand how the facility cares for patients. We’ll connect you with this opportunity and monitor your progress throughout.


Students can also take advantage of the expertise of our Career Services Department. These staff members can help you form your resume, practice interview skills and find open positions in your area.