Wondering what kind of career you’ll have as a patient care technician (PCT)? PCTs have a lot of variety to pick from. They work at hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, skilled nursing facilities, dialysis clinics—just about anywhere that involves hands-on patient care.
We asked the experts at Pima Medical Institute what the fastest-growing, most challenging PCT careers are today. Here’s what they had to say:
On the frontlines of heart health
This career is found in the intensive care unit at hospitals. Technicians perform electrocardiograms (EKGs) and monitor their waveforms in order to analyze a patient’s heartbeat. If the technician notices any disruptions or changes in cardiac function, they are the first person to notify nurses and doctors. They’re team players—working alongside other healthcare providers to ensure the best, most time-sensitive care for patients.
Dialysis Technician: A career of compassion
The dialysis technician’s job is a challenging one that requires a lot of empathy and attention to detail. Patients often receive dialysis treatments up to three times a week for four hours at a time—that’s 12 hours of treatment. So it’s no surprise that a dialysis technician must be caring and understanding while they monitor and adjust a patient’s fluids during the treatment. They also must minimize the possibility of infection through proper equipment handling and sterilization.
Emergency Room Technician: Calm and effective under pressure
This is a fast-paced, detail-oriented career that happens only in one place—the emergency room. ER technicians help patients with medical emergencies, so they must be cool under pressure. They are often assisting doctors with exams, collecting lab samples, writing down patients’ medical histories, taking vital signs and much more. ER technicians must be quick to respond to patients’, doctors’ and nurses’ needs and able to juggle multiple tasks in a short amount of time. This is the perfect career for someone who enjoys variety and challenge.
Rehabilitation or Behavioral Technician: Providing strength to those in need
Each day on this job is different and requires understanding, empathy and mental stamina. Rehabilitation or behavioral technicians work with mental health patients. This career meets the unique needs of adults who either have substance abuse problems or struggle with serious mental health disabilities. They provide direct care, such as assisting with daily living needs, as well as help the patient redirect and stabilize behavioral patterns; bringing better quality of life to each person they help.
Hospital PCT: Making the hospital experience a better one
The hospital patient care technician must possess advanced healthcare skills so that they can help patients with needs such as wound care, nasogastric tube monitoring, IV maintenance and more. They focus on taking vital signs, collecting specimens, performing catheterization and helping patients with personal hygiene and grooming. They spend the majority of their day with patients, which means they need to be empathetic, attentive and responsive. The hospital PCT also needs to have strong interpersonal and communications skills, attention to detail and compassion care for patients.
As the healthcare industry expands because of technological advances in medicine and the growth and aging of the population, there will be an increased need for healthcare workers. All healthcare-related occupations are projected to increase by more than 19 percent nationally through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Pima Medical Institute offers the Patient Care Technician program at the East Valley and Houston campuses. Classes focus on a number of topics, including principles and practices of hemodialysis, electrocardiography, infection control and more. Once students have completed the program, they may sit for the National Certified Patient Care Technician (NCPCT) exam through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT).