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Not enjoying being a PCT


I am in nursing school, but also recently became a PCT at an acute care hospital. I wanted to become a PCT to get patient care experience and also I make an income while in school. First off, I have done almost 300 hours of my med surge rotation for school and ABSOULETY LOVE IT. I have done psych and other specialities and love it. I am actually contemplating on becoming a psych nurse and eventually become a psych NP.

However, when I became a tech recently I am hating it. First off, I am in the Float pool so I have no home unit. I hate that I'm always on guard and never feeling comfortable with my surroundings. I also hate that fact that some of the units that I am placed in really take advantage of the techs. These are units that always need techs because they have such high-turnovers so that's where the float pool techs go. For instance, yesterday I probably answered 80-90% of all call lights during a 12 hour shift. Even though I am helping a patient the nurses won't even bother to check it out. For example, yesterday I was helping a patient to the restroom (all 16 patients on the floor need assistance) and I get a call from a nurse saying a room needs her temperature checked (patient thinks she has a fever) even though she was already in the room,because she gave her meds, and the thermometer (each has their own) would be right next to her. I see them on their phones (face book) talking to each other and some are on YouTube! Each nurse had 4-5 patients max while I had he entire floor.

I will say not all units are like this, I have been on units where the nurses work their but off, but those are floors who hardly need techs because they don't have high turnovers so I hardly go there. Lastly, I don't mind doing dirty work. One of the other reasons why I wanted to be a tech is so that when I'm an RN I can competently do those skills quickly, clean and safe because I know we will not always be fortunate enough to have assistance.

I feel like I'm just burning out with school and work (I work 20-24 hours a week). When I'm done with work I'm exhausted and the last thing I want to do is do any homework. The only thing that keeps me going is that I have enjoyed my nursing clinicals/program. Also, I have patients telling me that I was a great Tech and wish I was their nurse. One patient told me one of the nurses in the hospital yelled at her and asked her why she keeps using the call light!

Sorry this post seems more of me venting than anything. However, For those who are in nursing school and a PCT, did being a PCT change your mind about being a RN? I am thinking about only doing the minimum hours I need to remain in the float pool and possibly find a non-healthcare job somewhere else until I finish school.

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

Never been a PCT or an NA, so I can only give you the RN perspective. But it strikes me that the most difficult part of your position is the floating part. I hated floating -- there is a lot to be said for having a home unit where you know people, know the routine and are comfortable. Is it possible that you could have a home unit? Could you change jobs so you wouldn't have to float?

I wouldn't give up on health care because of this experience, but clearly floating is not your thing.

Like the above poster, I've never been a PCT or NA either, but I think your idea of only doing the minimum hours necessary to remain in the float pool and finding another non health care job until you finish nursing school is a very good one. It sounds as though you are currently doing too much, with both work and school. I suggest focusing on graduating and becoming an RN. You already have some basic patient care experience and practice with time management, which will hold you in good stead when you are an RN.

I think the fact that you are enjoying your clinical rotations is a very good sign that you will like being an RN (a number of nursing students either don't enjoy or actually hate med-surg and psych clinicals). Patients want and need nurses who are both competent and caring. I think you are a step ahead of many nursing students as you actually enjoy your nursing clinicals/nursing program and have some PCT experience.

Best wishes to you for finishing nursing school and beginning your nursing career.

Edited by Susie2310

FolksBtrippin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Public Health.

Im in my last semester of nursing school and I have a job as a sitter in the hospital. I recommend that you keep the job, but drop down your hours and try to get placed on one floor. The reason is that, when you graduate you will be in a great position to get a job in your hospital.

So before you quit and go non healthcare, see if you can change this experience to one that meets your needs. Some things to think about:

Does your hospital have a relief crew? At my hospital relief workers agree to work at least 2 days per month. They are paid a little more and do not get benefits.

We also have part timers that work 1 12 hour shift per week.

You might consider becoming a sitter (1 to 1 aide) its often boring and cushy and depending on your assignment and hospital policy you may be able to listen to lectures on your earbuds while you watch your patient or go through flashcards. You can't count on that, but you defintely will not be running around ragged.

You could approach your supervisor to see if you can get scheduled permanently on a unit you are interested in.

Since you are interested in psych, maybe consider doing 1 to 1 suicide watch. Psychotic patients often need 1 to 1 also, especially in the ED.

Before you leave this hospital entirely, give the them ample chance to make it work for you. If you don't speak up, they can't help. If your supervisor is not open to transfering you, before you quit go to a higher up or try HR and tell them what you want.

Good luck!


Has 1 years experience.

I'm a PCA and a student. I love it, but, I'm blessed to be on a unit that is supportive of education (if there's any downtime no one cares if I study). My nurses consider PCAs to be part of the team equal to them as people, just different jobs on the team. See if you can find a home unit. Floating isn't for everyone. Until then look at it as an opportunity to see different specialties.

Edited by smartassmommy
Blasted phone

I am a PCT and a student. I dont always enjoy it because I feel like I get talked down to all day. That wont always be true, depending on your floor. Consider working PRN instead of part-time or switching floors. Just make it til you are a nurse, and work hard to treat your PCTs with respect.

I know the feeling. I'm PCT/nurse student. I've noticed that certain units I love because the RNs work as a team with the PCTs. I dislike the units where they do not. It makes for a longer, harder shift for everyone and it's a shame.

I also work a non-healthcare job that I love. I need the variety. Both jobs are as needed so I choose the days that I work. This is helpful with studying and paying for my cost of living.

Some tips to consider: sign up early and only sign up for the units that you like. Try different shifts in the units that you don't like. You may find that another shift works better as a team. Work less hours if you can. If you can't, find another job (healthcare or not) that you do like and supplement the hours that you need to still work. Last, find out which days allow you to rest and get homework done. Don't work those days.

I'm switching things around for this spring semester myself. You want to to eventually become a psych NP possibly. Remember that your grades will qualify you in an NP so remember to adjust everything around studying for your classes.

I have to remind myself of this because I pay for my own living and classes and it's not easy studying if I'm not sure I'll have money to pay a utility bill that month. Best wishes.

I floated for a while during my PCT days and this was my experience.

Floating full time as a PCT is a very different experience from working on one unit, or occasionally floating to another unit, so I wouldn't base nursing or health care on that experience. On the plus side you get some variety. On the downside PCTs in general are very overworked and in many cases the only thing keeping a shift from turning into a train wreck is that you know the routine, the staff, and maybe some or even most of your patients. Those are all luxuries you don't have when you float, so the stress level is a lot greater and everything will take longer.

Because you aren't familiar with the staff and they aren't familiar with you, they don't necessarily have your back, and may view you with suspicion and even contempt. You also may have to deal with units that tend to be very cliquish or catty towards new or unfamiliar staff, so you need to have thick skin.

From what I saw Nursing Students tended to have the toughest time floating because they are often the most eager to please, inexperienced, and eager to fit in. Older more experienced techs tended to do better because they were more likely to let the unit politics and drama roll off them like water off a duck.

All in all my view on being a float PCT was that it was a mixed bag and generally not worth the aggravation, but others mileage may vary.

I am a student nurse tech (thats what we are called at our hospital) at a teaching hospital in an abdominal transplant ICU. I don't like the work either. I am often assigned to sitter cases, most of the time the patients are confused, combative, and on some sort of precaution. I do enjoy my time in the ICU and getting to know the specialty. Our contract only requires us to work 12 hours a month, and I do just that. At the end of the day, I will be placing 1 year tech experience in the ICU on my resume, which is definitely worth it.

This hospital could become your first employer when you become an RN, so I would not walk away from your current job, even with your trials and tribulations. Cut down on your hours as much as you can to remain an employee. Don't feel bad about calling off work if necessary for school or being physically run down. Look for a positive, such as working on a positive relationship with someone who can act as a future reference. Just don't allow yourself to become overwhelmed so that you quit this job. Instead, write out the entry you will use on your future resume. This job will look so much better than anything you can get outside of healthcare.