Anyone that has worked in any part of the nation outside of Tennessee has experience a type of care that is somewhat advanced and is generally being considered "normal." Some of us have experienced the phenominon of Patient Care Assistants and Patient Care Techs. Now, I know several facilities in Tennessee use these position titles, but they really don't use PCAs / PCTs to the extent that other states do. In some states, Ohio for example, PCAs are almost exactly CNAs with a different title. PCTs have a slightly higher level of training and responsibility that are provided by their respective hospitals as part of their orientation and competency checklists. Some of these tasks include: chemsticks, discontinuing IVs and foley catheters, clean and minor sterile dressing changes, trach care, and the list goes on.
Through a position description review at my facility and having called the state office that issues state certifications for NAs, I was dishearted at the lack of structure and forward thinking in our state.
We have no state standard or scope of practice for CNAs in Tennessee. Tennessee follows the federal guidelines for CNAs as it relates to their practice in nursing homes. Contrast that with the Colorado State Board of Nursing website that has an entire section devoted to CNA scope of practice, policy and the like.
As we continue down the road of this nursing shortage, our CNAs (PCTs or PCAs) can be some of our greatest non-licensed allies in providing exceptional care. While there are a great many things that you cannot substitute a RN's training for, these staff members can help with some of the more mundane tasks.
I believe it would behoove us to look into expanding the role and practice of CNAs in Tennessee to that of PCTs from other states. I'm not exactly sure what it would take for a change like this to come about, but if we need legislation, then let's get it! We need to get Tennessee out of this seemingly 10 year old time warp and catch up with the rest of the modern nation.
Any experiences or thoughts to share about this? :spin: