PCT jobs harder than they once were?

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I heard a couple RNs talking at work the other night. They were really experienced RNs who mainly do vascular procedures like PICC lines throughout the hospital, and they were discussing a tech who wound up with a bloody nose after getting punched by a patient, AFTER having a urinal poured on her by a different patient(what a shift eh). Both had started out as Nurse assistants in a hospital over 30 years ago.

According to both of them, the patient care has gotten ten times harder than when they first started out in Nursing, and the workload for techs in particular has gotten a lot worse. They said they feel so bad for the techs they see on the floors and don't remember it ever being as bad as it is now.

I thought it was mainly just THIS hospital, which is notorious for being a great place to work as an RN and a horrible place to work as a tech(so say the RNs who once worked there as techs). Is this pretty much the case everywhere, has the job for techs just gotten much harder than it once was? Is this because of the bad economy and the fact there are so many more people applying for every tech job?

I feel like the attitude is the techs are looked at like horses, and they just ride them to death and switch to another one. A new tech I was orienteering worked in the corporate world before deciding to do a career change into nursing and work as a tech while in school. She was honest, and said the job seems so much more stressful and difficult than what she expected and worse than anything shed experienced before. I think the tech with the bloody nose freaked her out. I tried to comfort her by telling her I've never had a urinal poured on me and been punched in the face during the same shift.

Specializes in ER.

I think that in many ways hospitals have been looking for ways to eliminate cost where they can. If they think that cutting out an RN and shoving more duties on a pct is the way to go, they will try that.

What floor was she on? Were the patients altered mental status or dementia?

Our techs are expected to do things like blood sugars, help turning, answer call lights, vitals, etc. It is near impossible in my book. 15 patients to one tech with RNs who aren't helping out because they themselves feel overloaded with patients? At least with an ICU we have a better workload.

There is no easy answer, but in many ways the perfect world we would have more nurses and more techs available. However, there aren't more nurses or pcts.

funtimes

446 Posts

The patient who did the punching was a younger TBI patient who surprised the tech and caught her off guard. I know patients with TBI in particular can be unpredictable, but I long ago learned to assume that every patient is nuts until proven otherwise, regardless of diagnosis or age. Inappropriate and short tempered behavior is so pervasive that I'm actually surprised when I have a patient who manages to act normal for a sustained period of time, regardless of the unit(although I've always found middle aged type A personality cardiac patients to be the worst behaved and hardest patients to deal with hands down, even worse than alcoholics).

If it is true techs/aides are worked harder now than in the past, I think a lot of it has to do with the glut of nursing students out there today who are all looking to work as techs and are willing to accept whatever pay and conditions the hospital gives them because they know its only temporary and they want to have an inside track when they become RNs. It also probably doesn't help that LPNs have been largely run out of hospitals. LPNs probably didn't kiss the RNs butts like so many techs do.(which is probably part of the reason they are rarely found in hospitals these days). Either way the reality is overworking the techs so badly affects patient care significantly and probably increases mistakes.

Specializes in ER.

It will be interesting to see how things go now that our hospital is trying to get rid of unit clerks and only have pcts. In the ICU, now we're going to have only nurses so trying to page a doctor will be interesting.

ellaballet

174 Posts

I have no clue what jobs were once like for PCTS - I do feel like my PCT job is a lot harder than anyone would expect.

I have an hour and fifteen minutes every morning to do vital signs on all 14 pts, check blood sugars on ~8ish depending on the unit obviously, and then pass out all 14 trays. And of course its right in the morning so everyone has to pee. All easy skills but it really stresses me out trying to get it all done. All day I feel like I'm being pulled in a million different directions. Its been a struggle to get myself to pick up shifts since I've started nursing school. I love my job, but man school stresses me out enough. I don't want to take a break from studying to go to work and have to kill myself more lol.

They staff us to the bare minimum. Because of this I feel a lot of pressure to work beyond my scope of practice to help out the nurses ontop of all of the PCA stuff I have to do. I just think the floor would run more smoothly if we had a second PCA, but its not like management cares what I think lol.

runsalot

339 Posts

It's a stressful job. It's a physically demanding job. I cannot imagine doing it for years. I almost got my finger broke this past weekend by a confused agitated patient. Gots to be quick with the confused one. Everywhere people try to do more with less. But if you feel unsafe. Speak up.

Julius Seizure

1 Article; 2,282 Posts

Specializes in Pediatric Critical Care.
LPNs probably didn't kiss the RNs butts like so many techs do.(which is probably part of the reason they are rarely found in hospitals these days).

This was an interesting comment, to me. I don't know that I've seen it in my experience that techs kiss the RNs butts. Many techs are friendly and helpful, but I wouldn't call it butt-kissing. And of course there are also techs who behave as if any task delegated to them is an inconvenience.

Even so, I doubt this has anything to do with why LPNs are no longer commonplace in hospitals. I dont think management would care at all about if they brown nosed the RNs.

SierraBravo

547 Posts

Has 3 years experience.
This was an interesting comment, to me. I don't know that I've seen it in my experience that techs kiss the RNs butts. Many techs are friendly and helpful, but I wouldn't call it butt-kissing. And of course there are also techs who behave as if any task delegated to them is an inconvenience.

Even so, I doubt this has anything to do with why LPNs are no longer commonplace in hospitals. I dont think management would care at all about if they brown nosed the RNs.

THIS!

I'm actually slightly amused by this thread. Keep in mind that this is biased by my own experience. It usually takes virtually an act of Congress for me to get a tech to do something as simple as a follow up set of VS. Answering call lights? Bathing patients that are not ambulatory? Working as a part of a team to provide the best care possible to patients? Yeah, not so much...

Don't get me wrong, I do work with some techs that are exceptional and do a phenomenal job, but unfortunately the vast majority of them are, excuse the term, worthless when it comes to their job.

Why is a tech's job exponentially easier than a RN's? Well, for starters the techs don't have to do assessments, aren't legally responsible for their patients, don't have to pass meds, don't have to worry about losing their license (because they are unlicensed), don't have gobs and gobs of documentation and notes to write every shift, don't have to deal with everything else the RN has to deal with, etc...

Again, this is based on my experience and I know it's not like this everywhere. But until a tech has worked as a RN on a busy unit, comparatively a tech job and a RN job is not even in the same ballpark. My guess is that once these techs that are nursing students graduate and start working as a RN, they might look back and think that their tech job wasn't so busy after all.

funtimes

446 Posts

Why is a tech's job exponentially easier than a RN's? Well, for starters the techs don't have to do assessments, aren't legally responsible for their patients, don't have to pass meds, don't have to worry about losing their license (because they are unlicensed), don't have gobs and gobs of documentation and notes to write every shift, don't have to deal with everything else the RN has to deal with, etc...

Yes, those are the things you went to 4 years of college learning how to do, and for which an RN gets paid 2 to 3 times as much as a tech does...on your 2-4 patients. We don't have to pass meds, or document as much(per patient), just do tech stuff on 12 to 18 patients. Not nearly as much documentation for us, just logging in and out of the computer to document one or two things per patient... a hundred times a shift.

Its an easy comparison. Do a lot with a few patients, or do less with a shitload of patients. Which is worse? Well considering we go through techs like Kleenex and RNs tend to stick around a long time, I think that speaks for itself. I have yet to encounter a single RN who said damn these techs got it great, you guys can have my RN license, its a techs life for me.

As for RNs losing their license. Yeah its possible....does it happen regularly? I cant think of a single instance of it happening to anyone Ive known or worked with in over half a dozen years of doing this, but I guess its certainly possible. A tech getting fired or having their health care career ruined? I've seen that multiple times, in LTC it happens to CNAs regularly. Ive seen CNAs get investigated for abuse and neglect for doing(or not doing) something Ive seen an RN in a hospital do(or fail to do) a hundred times. Lose your CNA over something like that and you can kiss any health care job goodbye permanently.

Another thing. As an RN you might get a crazy patient or one or two total care patients every third shift or so. As a tech your gonna get several of these almost every shift.

Again, this is based on my experience and I know it's not like this everywhere. But until a tech has worked as a RN on a busy unit, comparatively a tech job and a RN job is not even in the same ballpark. My guess is that once these techs that are nursing students graduate and start working as a RN, they might look back and think that their tech job wasn't so busy after all.

You almost had it right.

A tech job and RN job are not in the same ballpark. They are not even the same game.

Both are difficult in their own way, and belittling one is not appropriate.

Are their lazy and worthless techs, yes, just as their are lazy and worthless nurses.

I find my nursing job easier in many ways compared to a tech. As a nurse I have fewer patients, fewer people telling me what to do, fewer people yelling at me when I don't do the 20 things at once that are asked of me by 5 different people, being able to make my own decisions on patient care based on what I see instead of telling someone and nothing happening till something bad happens, then getting blamed for it. Plus I get paid a livable wage.

The only thing I miss about being a tech is the ability to say "I am not sure, let me get your nurse" when I did not know something.

funtimes

446 Posts

I think some of the friction between RNs and techs is a generational thing. As I mentioned in my original post(which was like a year ago), it was RNs that have been doing the job for decades that were the most sympathetic to the techs, and that's usually how it goes. Its the recent RNs, mainly BSNs that tend to have the worst attitudes and work ethic, although there are certainly exceptions.

Some of the worst RNs to work with I've encountered are the ones with a year to 3 years experience. I don't know if its a millennial thing, but there is a huge sense of entitlement and superiority complex and poor teamwork skills I don't find nearly as much with older more experienced RNs. Starting out they are usually nice enough, if only because they are new and unsure of themselves and often need your help.....then around the 6 month mark you see a big change and by a year or two they have this huge attitude problem.

Some of it might be the glut of BSNs being pumped out by schools these days, quality is bound to drop.

SierraBravo

547 Posts

Has 3 years experience.
You almost had it right.

Both are difficult in their own way, and belittling one is not appropriate.

I find my nursing job easier in many ways compared to a tech. As a nurse I have fewer patients, fewer people telling me what to do, fewer people yelling at me when I don't do the 20 things at once that are asked of me by 5 different people, being able to make my own decisions on patient care based on what I see instead of telling someone and nothing happening till something bad happens, then getting blamed for it.

My intention was not to belittle techs. Like I said, my frustration stems from working with techs that don't want to do the job they were hired for. As you said, that also applies to nurses. I also work with a few nurses that seem to think that they exist in a vacuum and helping others simply isn't in their vocabulary.

Yes, of course, nurses have fewer patients. But we are responsible for those patients and we do far more per patient than a tech does, which is why we have fewer patients. I'm speaking about acute care in a hospital, not LTC.

Sorry, but I get tired of hearing techs complain about how hard their job is, etc... My response is the same, those techs should try walking a mile in a nurse's shoes on a busy hospital unit and I can almost assure you that they will look back on their tech job and realize it isn't so bad. If techs want more money, they can go to nursing school and start a professional career. Otherwise, do the job you were hired for or find something else that isn't so stressful.