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This is a discussion on PCA a good or Bad idea? in Patient Care Technician / Assistants (PCT/PCA), part of Nursing Student ... I posted a question regarding what would be the best PCA position? I heard many great responses...by AngelaChanel24 Jul 25, '08I posted a question regarding what would be the best PCA position? I heard many great responses ones that answered a few deep lying questions is being a PCA really a waste. It sounds more like a slave to petty work, filling pitchers, bathing all the stuff nurses dont want or have time to do. PLUS 12 hr shifts? I have 2 kids and I want to learn about being a nurse not get burn out. What other jobs are there that are not so challenging?
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- Jul 25, '08 by tinkerlpn2bbeing a PCA is neither a waste of time or a slave to petty work. PCA's perform the most basic nursing care. You need to be able and ready to perform these tasks no matter the initials behind your name. my opinion only, if you cant handle these duties for the alloted 12 hours what makes you think you can handle these and the others that go along with being a nurse? I dont mean to sound rude,sorry if I do... but this is reality.
- Jul 25, '08 by thinkin' about it"my opinion only, if you cant handle these duties for the alloted 12 hours what makes you think you can handle these and the others that go along with being a nurse? I dont mean to sound rude,sorry if I do... but this is reality. "
A bit harsh.
I, for one, don't believe you have to enjoy being a nursing assistant to enjoy being a nurse. To go back to the original poster's questions, I don't think that you will learn that much about being a nurse by being a PCA (or CNA, or whatever your facility calls nursing assistants). I believe that nursing assistants are VERY important. However, I would never want their job for more than a temporary time frame. And I speak from experience, as I was a Certified Nursing Assistant for a while several years before I went to nursing school (and had several jobs in between...didn't go straight from CNA to nursing school).
Anyway, my point is that, sugar coat it if you like, but being a nursing assistant is often a grueling, thankless, physically difficult, low-paying job. Add to that the fact that holidays, weekends, nights, 12-hour shifts, are often the norm, and it's easy to see why burnout is high. Please don't flame me, because I'm NOT saying that aides aren't important, only pointing out some of the difficulties of the job. If anything, I respect aides even more because of how challenging their job is. And I speak from a position of having done this job before. I found it grueling, demanding, and physically difficult. The thing I did like about it was the close interaction with patients/residents.
All the above being said, nursing itself (as an RN) has many of the same challenges; however, you are generally given much more pay, self-direction, and decision-making. The downside is that you also have MUCH more responsibility/accountability.
I don't believe that as a PCA you will see the broad scope of things a nurse does, even as a staff nurse. You will, however, learn a lot about hard work, compassion, and basic nursing tasks. If you are truly interested in becoming a nurse, I suggest you shadow some nurses. If you do, be sure to do so in multiple settings, different shifts, etc.
In short, I would not recommend using a PCA position to learn whether one would like to become a nurse (not sure if that was your plan or not). However, it could be an ok job to get your foot in the door while attending nursing school, and to learn some more about the field if you are already in school. Just please don't use what you learn as a PCA to decide whether or not to become a nurse in the first place. I thought being a CNA meant I'd know what being an RN was like, and I was wrong.
- Jul 25, '08 by JRD2002I kinda thought the same thing. I was working at a hospital and was going to let them pay for my nursing school tuition but to do it I would have to transfer out of my department and become a PCA. I thought that there was no way I would want to do that for 2 years. Now I realize what a mistake that was. True PCA's do a lot of the less glamorous nursing duties, but they are duties that all nurses do. I have my BSN and do all of the "petty" work you listed. Work in a hospital is what you make of it. You can either do what your job requires, clock in and out, and be done with it or you can do your job and use your shift as one big learning experience.
BTW no nursing action is trivial.
- Jul 25, '08 by miko014Quote from AngelaChanel24I don't want to be mean, so please don't take this post that way. It's just that - who do you think is on the other side of the bed helping those PCAs bathe/clean up the pts? Yep! It's a nurse! What are you going to to as an RN when your pt asks you to refill their water pitcher? True, nurses don't have to do quite as much of that kind of work, but it is still a very challenging (physically and mentally) job - nurses are the ones who can lose their license for the things the PCAs do. So knowing what they are supposed to do is a very beneficial thing. And frankly, I hate working with nurses who were never PCAs, because they truly have no idea what it is like. Are you going to make your pt wait for a bed pan until there is a PCA available to put them on it? I hope not! So you might as well learn how to do it now.I posted a question regarding what would be the best PCA position? I heard many great responses ones that answered a few deep lying questions is being a PCA really a waste. It sounds more like a slave to petty work, filling pitchers, bathing all the stuff nurses dont want or have time to do. PLUS 12 hr shifts? I have 2 kids and I want to learn about being a nurse not get burn out. What other jobs are there that are not so challenging?
Yes, being a PCA is hard work, but guess what. So is being a nurse! I was a PCA for 4 years, and let me tell you, I had some great days and some really crappy days. But I learned SO MUCH! Don't let people tell you that you won't learn anything, because just being in the hospital teaches you so much. Even if all you do is get comfortable being in that setting, it's worth it. And believe me. pt's will appreciate you as much as nurses do.
No offense. but if your attitude is that you want a job that's "not so challenging", maybe nursing isn't for you.
- Jul 25, '08 by loriangel14Do you really think that nurses don't bathe, toilet or get water for their pts? if you couldn't hack that then you definitely couldn't handle being a nurse.PCAs work damned hard and none of what they do is petty. Any nurse worth her salt knows how to do pt care as well as any aid and learning that is a valuable first step to nursing.
- Jul 25, '08 by ncnurse99I'm finding a little good in all that each of you are saying in regards to the question asked. I do agree that PCA/CNA is a thankless, physically demaning, extremely low paying job. I think that most often they are taken advantage of by the nurses who have never walked in their shoes. I was a nursing assistant for 3 yrs while in nursing school. Did I enjoy it? I can prob be safe to say...no not really. But do I now find it beneficial? I can mosy definatley say YES! I still perform many of the same duties I did then but with added responsibility. But with the added responsibility comes more satisfaction(and pay) than I ever had as CNA(in my case we were CNA's). So, as mentioned earlier, if you want something now that requires less work...not so sure your gonna like nursing cause its what your doing now...then some! Best of luck!
- Jul 25, '08 by a4432good idea actually. you will get more comfortable with patients, the environment, terminology, etc.. some hospitals esp where i do my clinicals have pcas who do phlebotomy/ekg. in nsg school you will still learn how to bathe, feed, clean up, and care for patients. its all in the job description.
- Jul 25, '08 by PianoGirl20I've never been a PCA in a hospital; however I've worked as a CNA in a nursing home this summer. As has been mentioned, it can be a very tiring, stressful, physically exhausting, and thankless (so many residents are SO needy...including ones who don't NEED to be...but that's a whole other thread) job. And b/c it's not an acute setting, it's not even like I really get to do "cool" stuff like foleys, dressing changes, etc. So, you might ask, WHY would I ever suggest a job like this?
Well, I think the biggest skill this job experience will give me in the future is patience and the ability to work under stress. "Waiting" on all of the residents who need the bedpan for the 3rd time that hours, juggling 4 call lights going off at once, and developing strategies for budgeting your time when the hall's short on aides that night...I think in some ways all of those situations are helping me develop the "mettle" I will someday need as an RN. And honestly, the job will give you a very strong stomach (valuable, I think).
I also think that 12-hour shifts are OK. They're actually an efficient way to work b/c you get on a "roll" by about the middle of a busy shift and suddenly you're done...and it really doesn't feel too much longer than 8 hrs.
But finally, if you're reallly having overwhelming and constant feelings of distaste for/stress about the job, don't do it. I have seen many comments on this site from/about nurses who were never PCAs/aids and went on to be excellent nurses, and I know from experience that usually, grinding your way through a job that you absolutely loathe is typically obvious to everyone around you and benefits no one.
- Jul 25, '08 by loriangel14This may not apply south of the border but up here we have no aids so that work that you call petty lands on our plates as nurses.I am my own aid.