If you are one of those people who wish to help the disabled (temporarily or permanently), the job of a patient care assistant is for you. Take a look at what this job entails, along with the salary it has to offer.
Some people have gone through the worst health problems, and often need assistance to perform their daily activities until they are nursed back to good health. The elderly, the physically disabled, and the mentally disabled, also need help with performing the activities of daily living. Such persons are often provided the services of a patient care assistant.
Patient Care Assistants (PCAs), also popularly known as Patient Care Technicians (PCTs), are professionals who provide patient care facilities, while being supervised by a qualified nurse. These persons may work in clinics or hospitals, or in outpatient settings, such as homes and institutions. Not all functions are performed by a nurse, and this is where a patient care assistant comes in. While taking care of patients, a PCA will inform the nurse about any changes in the condition of the patient, both positive and negative. While they are taught to perform several tasks similar to those of a nurse, there are other tasks that they need to take care of as well.
- The prime function of a PCA is to take care of a patients’ needs in terms of maintaining physical hygiene, performing basic necessary daily functions, and maintaining a safe and clean environment for the patient.
- A PCA is qualified to perform the basic functions of a nurse such as taking vital signs, and collecting specimens for laboratory tests.
- They will also keep a tab on the patient’s health developments, and report any abnormalities in physical or psychological behavior to the supervising nurse.
- When working in an outpatient setting, a PCA will make appointments with the appropriate doctor, and will follow-up with the doctor depending on the patient’s condition.
- Remaining with the patients at all times, and accompanying them from one place to another is one of the many important duties of a patient care technician.
- They will keep track of the patient’s requirements in terms of medication and other supplies, and will order them whenever necessary. Some clerical functions are also performed by them.
While these are the basic functions, there may be others that will depend on the situation they and their patients are in.
There is no specific undergraduate degree program to become a PCA, though there is a Patient Care Assisting Technical Certificate that is needed to qualify as one. In the course of training to become a patient care technician, you will be taught how to deal with patients who have different needs. Basic nursing skills, maintaining hygiene (in the personal and surrounding environment), collecting specimens for lab tests, physical therapy, respiratory therapy, geriatric therapy, infection control, and electrocardiography are also taught to PCAs in course of their education.
Apart from these skills, a PCA is required to have certain inherent skills such as empathy with patients, good communication skills, patience to deal with the demands of their patients, and the physical ability to work for long hours. After completing the technical certification, and the appropriate state examination, a student will be given the qualification of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). To become a certified Patient Care Assistant, graduates will be required to give a national certification exam.
To qualify for the technical certification, aspiring PCAs are required to have a minimum of a high school diploma or a GED, with good knowledge of subjects such as biology, math, and language and communication. These skills will be tested when they give their SAT or ACT (which may be required to get into the course depending on the chosen college). They can opt for this course only after they have completed 18 years of age, and have cleared a drug test and a criminal background check.
With the continuous demand for help with patient care, there is a noticeable growth in the jobs that are now available for such professionals. The salary pertaining to this profession will vary based on the experience, the setting in which this job is performed, and the state in which the PCA is performing. However, the average salary in the year 2009 was reported at US $25,000, with the maximum being at US $42,000. On an hourly basis, the salary of a patient care technician will range anywhere between US $8 and US $14, based on the aforementioned factors.
The job of a patient care assistant is one of those medical jobs that is more humane than technical. Empathy and a strong desire to help those who need it is what determines how good a PCA is. Of course, the medical aspect of the job cannot be ignored. A patient care assistant is likely to develop an attachment with her/his patient, but this is a part of the job, and over the course of time you will learn how to deal with it. With all the technicalities in place, and an understanding of what exactly the job entails, you will be able to decide whether or not this profession is for you.