Welcome to the rapidly expanding patient care technician career field! A personal interest in becoming a technician demonstrates a strong commitment to improving the lives of those who depend on medical professionals for the services they need to remain healthy. While the job of a technician can be overwhelming, those who work in the field are able to find personal satisfaction from knowing that they have a positive impact on the health and well-being of others. The first step to becoming a technician is to research the industry in greater detail.
There has never been a better time to consider a career in the healthcare industry. As a large segment of the population enters the retirement years, a dramatic increase in demand for services has created a tremendous burden for those already working in the field. Facility administrators are now struggling to find enough qualified personnel to help provide the types of medical services that the public needs. The present shortage of healthcare professionals has created many new career opportunities for those who possess the required knowledge and skills to provide competent and compassionate care. Another benefit of entering the profession during a period of low supply and high demand is the fact that many human resource departments are offering a very appealing patient care technician salary.
Members of the baby-boomer generation have begun entering a period in life when chronic illness becomes a much more common condition. While these ailments have always been present in our society, no previous generation has had nearly as many people who will require care. Over the coming years, many industry professionals predict that the United States will experience a dramatic increase in the number of people suffering from high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. As the healthcare system attempts to prepare for this influx of patients, it is projected that around 5.6 million new jobs will be created by the year 2020. Experts in the field anticipate that the patient care technician salary will increase along with the number of job opportunities.
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What is a Patient Care Technician?
Technicians commonly fall into a category of allied health professional known as unlicensed assistive personnel. The term ‘patient care technician’ is often used to describe individuals who work under the supervision of a registered nurse providing medical care to individuals who are disabled or otherwise unable to care for themselves. Technicians can often be found working in hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis clinics, and private residences. Other terms that are often used to identify a technician include nurse assistant, medical assistant, home health aide, nurse aide, and nurse technician.
Technician Job Description
Technicians have a diverse set of job responsibilities that are often specific to the establishment where they work and the type of patients they serve. Some of the more common tasks that a technician is expected to perform include recording vital signs, mobilizing patients, collecting specimens for medical tests, documenting treatment information, assisting with daily exercises, performing personal hygiene, removing stitches, drawing blood, changing dressings, accessing dialysis sites, monitoring food and fluid intake, and meal preparation. Technicians who have advanced training may also be qualified to assist with surgical procedures as well as childbirth. Advanced credentials may result in a higher patient care technician salary and more diverse employment opportunities.
Individuals who enjoy the challenges that come with a management position may find that their ideal career opportunity exists within the administrative department. In this setting, the technician may be responsible for processing insurance claims, coding patient medical information, managing supplies, and training new technicians. A promotion to an administrative position usually requires additional years of experience as a clinical professional and advanced training. While management opportunities are not ideal for everyone, they do represent a good opportunity to secure a higher patient care technician salary for those who are up to the challenge.
Patient Care Technician Salary
Technicians provide services that are critical to the efficient and effective operation of medical facilities throughout the United States. In many institutions, physicians and nurses depend heavily on technicians for the delivery of comprehensive medical care. While the patient care technician salary may not be as high as that of a registered nurse or physician, it is generally reflective of the value that the technician brings to an organization and the relatively low requirements for entry into the profession. According to Indeed.com, the average technician salary is around $30,000 per year. This number can vary a lot depending on the establishment where the technician works, the amount of experience that a technician has, any formal education and training that has been completed, and geographic location.
Many individuals enter the technician profession as a means to gain some experience in healthcare and decide on a more specialized and advanced path that they want to take. While the patient care technician salary may not be very appealing at first, it can provide the foundation that is needed to advance one’s career in other areas of healthcare. Aside from completing additional education and training, individuals may be able to increase their earning potential by accepting a position that is located in a Coastal state. These states often offer higher salaries because there is a greater shortage of qualified professionals and because the cost of living is higher than in the Midwest. Additionally, technicians may want to explore the possibility of a position in administration.
Technician Training and Certification
Few employment opportunities for technicians require formal education beyond a high school diploma or equivalent. While many healthcare facilities provide on-the-job training, they may expect individuals to complete some type of certification exam after having been employed for a specific period of time. In addition, some states have adopted regulations that require a technician to complete an approved training program followed by a national certification exam. Individuals are encouraged to investigate the requirements in their state prior to seeking employment.
Due to the rapidly changing healthcare environment, many employers have created policies that favor applicants who have formal education, training, and certification. Increased standards within the industry are the result of additional federal regulations that affect the way facilities receive federal funds for services rendered. In anticipation of future practice restrictions, individuals are often advised to pursue certification options that are relevant to their preferred specialty. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies has accredited 4 organizations that provide exams relating to the technician profession.
Accredited organizations include the American Association of Medical Assistants, American Medical Technologists, National Center for Competency Testing, and National Healthcareer Association. Technicians are encouraged to carefully consider which of these options is best suited to their own situation before deciding on any one exam. While not all employers require certification, voluntary pursuit of nationally accepted credentials may increase the size of the patient care technician salary, lead to better benefits, and make individuals more competitive in the job market.