Student- Become PCT or stay a waitress?

  1. 0
    I'm currently a student at STLCC Meramec. I took some nursing courses at SEMO but was a little leery of their program. I could have stayed there, as changing my major kept me there 3 1/2 yrs and very close to a bachelor's in general studies, but I know I want to be a nurse. So I decided to go to a different nursing school. I'm currently on the waiting list and as of right now will begin my nursing courses Fall 09 with all my prereqs out of the way. (Yay!) I moved to STL and I live on my own and pay all my own bills. It's tough to do to say the least. I know someone who knows someone who can help me get a PCT job at Barnes.

    I think that would be great! Not only will it be good to know that I can handle working in the hospital setting, but I also think that experience will make nursing classes easier. Not to mention working at Barnes may get me a foot in the door post-grad and help pay for some school/loans. I work at Red Lobster right now and serving is a quick and easy way to make money with flexible scheduling. My worry is that I may not make as much money and make life that much more difficult.

    Can anyone tell me how scheduling would work as a PTC? Same schedule every week? Does it change every week? Are they flexible when you need time off for certain things? When I get into nursing classes will it be more difficult to make time for work? Should I keep weekends at Red Lobster?

    I feel like I am missing out on getting experience because of financial pressures and I am not sure what the best thing to do is. Any info and advice would be greatly appreciated.

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  2. 1
    My opinion is that if you are making decent money where you are currently working, then stay there and save as much money as you can before you start school. You may find that you want to cut back on your hours of work, and the extra money you have saved up will allow you to do that. Nursing school is very time consuming and demanding. I did not work my first semester because I did just what I suggested to you. It is possible to work while in school, but it will be more difficult for you. Most people will agree that it is best not to work while in school, but if you must then at least put yourself in a position that will allow you to work reduced hours if you need to (and saving up money will allow you to do that).

    You will get experience during your clinicals and lab training, and you can apply for a position as a patient tech after your first semester. I am currently doing that now and expect to get a position within the next couple of weeks (I'm heading into my second semester). I only plan to work part time. You may need to work at the restaurant on the weekend for extra money, so keep that door open. I will tell you that most people in my class do not come from medical backgrounds, and even while in school people are working at restaurants, in banks, salons, grocery stores, etc. You will get the experience you need, so don't worry about working in a hospital right now, unless that is what you really want to do.
    PinkAnther likes this.
  3. 1
    I don't work at Barnes, however I am a PCT at another local STL hospital. About 3 months ago I was wondering if I should try to get a job in the medical field to gain experience, and I'm glad I did it now. However, I'm about to go into my 3rd semester of nursing school @ UMSL. I suggest you wait to apply to one of these positions once you finish your first semester of nursing school, just as the above poster has said. You may find you are getting enough experience with clinicals, or you may find that you need more. The first semester will give you a great idea of whether or not you can handle the crazy hours that PCT's work! It's possible to do--I just finished taking 18 credits this past semester all while starting a new job (my first "nursing-related" job)--it's just a tad bit stressful is all. Also, many of the hospitals prefer you to have your first semester of nursing (your fundamentals course) finished, otherwise they have you take a 6 week class to train. Good luck with everything!
    PinkAnther likes this.
  4. 2
    I have to disagree with the first 2 replies. Being a PCT is a great experience - an eye opener and a good way to familiarize oneself with many of the basics of nursing and hospital floor nursing in particular. This is especially beneficial if like me you have had little or no past experience. To have this under my belt before starting NS (this January) has given me lots of confidence. I mean LOTS! All those fears about cleaning poop, working with Nurses, doctors, patients' families... drawing blood, patients of the opposite sex, the pressure of having so much work to do and seemingly not nearly enough time to do it all... Do you want to first be exposed to this at the same time you're doing your NS academic (yes, and clinical) work or wouldn't you prefer to have dealt with this already? I've read some threads in this forum that suggest some NS grads without this kind of real world experience crash and burn when they are first employed as nurses and discover the pressures of floor nursing. I'm totally sold on doing it up front. Of course you have to be able to get the job. If you have something of an "in", I say Go for it!!

    The money isn't great - BJC currently pays new techs something like $9.78/hr, but I find their flexibility in scheduling, particularly w/ respect to accomodating NS students to be very good, and there are differentials for evenings, nights and weekends which get it over $10 and even up to around $11. Being a "part-time" tech is what you would probably want. Officially, that means you must work a minimum 32 hours per 2-week pay period. I hope to be able to do 48 hours, i.e. two 12-hour shifts per week, but I also gather that the 32 hour rule is not written in stone and exceptions can be made, but that's just an impression. Many/most techs are nursing school students, or students-to-be like me, so their needs have to be met to keep them there.

    Good luck - whatever you decide to do, let us know!
    caligirl2 and PinkAnther like this.
  5. 2
    [quote=listener;3334178]I have to disagree with the first 2 replies. Being a PCT is a great experience - an eye opener and a good way to familiarize oneself with many of the basics of nursing and hospital floor nursing in particular. This is especially beneficial if like me you have had little or no past experience. To have this under my belt before starting NS (this January) has given me lots of confidence. I mean LOTS! All those fears about cleaning poop, working with Nurses, doctors, patients' families... drawing blood, patients of the opposite sex, the pressure of having so much work to do and seemingly not nearly enough time to do it all... Do you want to first be exposed to this at the same time you're doing your NS academic (yes, and clinical) work or wouldn't you prefer to have dealt with this already? I've read some threads in this forum that suggest some NS grads without this kind of real world experience crash and burn when they are first employed as nurses and discover the pressures of floor nursing. I'm totally sold on doing it up front. Of course you have to be able to get the job. If you have something of an "in", I say Go for it!! /quote]

    I had the same fears of drawing blood, cleaning poop, working with nurses, doctors, etc., and came through just fine this past semester without having worked as a PCT or in the healthcare field. The experience in clinicals allowed me to get over those fears. I passed my first semester, while some others that did come from a medical background, including some PCTs, did not. But, we are entitled to our opinions and in the end we must each do what is best for us. So to all, good luck pursuing your nursing education.
    caligirl2 and PinkAnther like this.
  6. 3
    I think you should do what you feel most comfortable doing. I believe you will make more money in the long run waitressing for now. If you have a flexible management, so much the better.

    I did not have any hospital experience and am doing fine as a new grad. That being said, if I had had hospital experience where I am, I would probably have saved myself tons of aggravation and a less-steep learning curve.

    I'd say if you're comfortable with the thought, stay where you are, ask your "friend" to keep you in mind for something perhaps during the summer between semesters and then go for that position.

    Being a tech in a facility where you think you will want to work will give you a HUGE leg up when it comes time to hire. Techs, especially with good reputations, often have an advantage over outsiders. THAT is a priceless advantage to have.

    Best wishes!!
  7. 1
    No way would I work for PCT wages rather than waitress unless you don't need the money to support yourself. In my experience the students that were techs had a big advantage in the first semester when I didn't even know how to take a BP, after that not so much. If the need for nursese isn't good in your area it is a help or if there is a speciality where you want to get your foot in the door but many students graduate every year without ever working in the field. While having some experience is a good thing working that hard for little more than min. wage isn't, imo.
    PinkAnther likes this.


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