Patient Care Tech/Assistant

  1. I'm currently a pre-nursing student, to start nursing courses 3/2007. I am looking into PCA/PCT positions at various hospitals in my area. I live in a decently-sized midwestern city, and we have a lot of good hospitals. I know I'll be getting lots of hands-on experience once I start clinicals (9/2007), but I'm wondering if a PCA position would help me gain more experience.

    A nursing student I talked to explained how different that is from an RN position, so I'm not sure if it would be the best move for me right now. I have other non-medical job opportunities available that would involve higher pay, less stress, and more flexible hours (which would be nice with my school schedule-I'd have to work nights if i took a PCA job).

    Would taking on a job like this be worth it, as good preparation for my future, or would it be best to take the low-key non-medical job while I'm in school?

    Also, some hospitals in my area only take PCA's who are nursing students with one round of clinical rotations completed...should I hold off and take a job with higher qualifications needed? Would that be a good measure of job quality?

    (Edited for clarity)
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   miko014
    Heck yes, it wil be invaluable! You will pick up LOTS of info, get a head start on clinicals (you'll already know some of the skills you'd have to learn, e.g., foley insertion, blood draws, or whatever the position you take does), and you'll develop your beside manner. I did it for 4 years. It is hard work, and it's sressful at times, but it's fantastic practice. Learn how to handle the stress, learn how to organize and prioritize, and get used to being around pts. True, the job is not the same as being an RN, but you will work with RNs, see what they do, and learn a lot. I say go for it!

    I don't know what the difference is with the other job that you would have to wait for, so I can't answer that part of the question.
  4. by   LiveZen
    [I did it for 4 years. It is hard work, and it's sressful at times, but it's fantastic practice.]

    Miko,

    Thanks for your response! One of the things I'm concerned about is handling the position while in school...were you in nursing school full-time while working as a PCT? How did that go with flexibility for hours, etc. ? All the PCA/PCT jobs around here are scheduled as 12 hours shifts, 7a-7pm or vice versa.
  5. by   Cherish
    If I'm not mistaken most of these positions are only given to CNA's, if your a CNA by all means go for it. Check with the facility, because if your not a CNA and they require you to be one, you may have to take the course.
  6. by   miko014
    Quote from LiveZen
    ...were you in nursing school full-time while working as a PCT? How did that go with flexibility for hours, etc. ? All the PCA/PCT jobs around here are scheduled as 12 hours shifts, 7a-7pm or vice versa.
    I was in school full time and I did one or 2 shifts per week. Now I work with a lot of students who are contingent and just pick up whatever shifts they can...or just do weekends, or nights. It depends on what you are doing, what kind of a student you are, etc.

    Quote from Cherish
    If I'm not mistaken most of these positions are only given to CNA's, if your a CNA by all means go for it. Check with the facility, because if your not a CNA and they require you to be one, you may have to take the course.
    Depends on where you are. Where I am, there are 2 major health systems. One is divided, with some SNA (Student Nurse Associate) and some PCA (Patient Care Assistant) jobs. The other does not matter. They have PCAs, pCTs, UCs, or you can be a PCA/UC or a PCT/UC.

    That brings up an interesting point, LiveZen. If you think the PCA position would be too hard for you, you ould try to get in as a unit clerk/unit secretary. Then you at least pick up some of the info, even if you don't get to do as much direct patient care. As for the job description of a UC, it varies so much from hospital to hospital right now that it's pretty difficult to say what you would have to do. Have you thought of calling the HR department at your hospital and asking them for advice?
  7. by   cardiacRN2006
    I was a tech forever. The experiences that I had and things that I learned where invaluable! Because of my tech experience, nursing school was breeze, and I didn't have to spend precious orientation time on 'nursing skills' like foleys and IVs (part of my PCT role was phlebotomy) and reading EKGs. I always recommend tech experience!
    Good Luck!
  8. by   LiveZen
    Thanks to all the OP;s.

    Part Time PCA's around here work 2- 12 hour shifts a week. I'm not sure the hospitals around here are very flexible...and I'm thinking it might become a problem when I start clinicals in the fall...ours can start before 7am, and I'd have to work nights (7P-7A) to make this work, because I'll have full-time class in the days, starting in March...so I'm not sure how that would work out. I don't want to go through the training and all and only be able to work the position for a couple of months.

    Would it be a bonus to take a PCA position or would I be missing out on a really good opportunity that I would be silly not to take?

    Another opportunity that is available. Our Children's hospital runs an 8-week internship program that I could do Summer 2008. It's a paid opportunity and you get extra pediatric experience (this would be after my peds rotation). Maybe this would be the best bet...to hold off for this?

    I've just talked to two friends who are seniors at the nursing school I'll be attending and they both recommended not taking the position because of the workload I'll have at school. Neither of them worked at hospitals during school, and both said they got lots of experience through clinicals. The nursing school is one of the top schools in the area, so that is good to know we will be getting good clinicals.

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