Should I train as a PCT or CNA?

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I am a Phlebotomist, my end goal is DNP. While going to school and to pay for school should I get training as a CNA or PCT? I have my associates in medical office administration, but never found a job with that. Also if I did PCT, could I be hired in as a CNA?

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

First, a lot depends on your location and where you want to work- acute care or skilled nursing. Find out if hospitals in your area hire CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants) or PCTs (Patient Care Technicians).

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For example, acute care hospitals in California predominantly hire CNAs.

Acute care employers in other areas may tend to hire PCTs.

However, skilled nursing facilities are typically required by federal mandate to hire CNAs.


CNA and PCT roles can offer valuable experience and training for those pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

Your choice between the two depends on various factors, such as your career goals, preferences, and the opportunities available in your area.

Here's a breakdown of both roles and how they might align with your goals:


  • CNAs are trained in relatively short training programs (a few weeks to a few months) and are certified by state regulatory bodies.
  • CNAs primarily assist patients with daily living activities under registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs) supervision.
  • Responsibilities typically include bathing, dressing, feeding, moving patients, taking vital signs, and reporting patient status to nurses.
  • CNAs provide direct patient care and often work in nursing homes, hospitals, and long-term care facilities.
  • Working as a CNA can provide essential patient care experience and exposure to the healthcare environment. 


  • Training programs for PCTs may vary in length and content, but they generally cover a wider range of technical skills than CNA programs.
  • PCTs may or may not be certified as requirements vary by state and employer.
  • PCTs have a broader scope of practice than CNAs and may perform additional tasks such as drawing blood, performing electrocardiograms (EKGs), and removing sutures.
  • PCTs work closely with nurses and other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive patient care.
  • They may work in hospitals, clinics, dialysis centers, and other healthcare settings.

Considering your background as a phlebotomist and your goal of pursuing a DNP, either role could complement your experience and provide valuable skills.

Becoming a PCT might be a good option if you want to expand your skill set beyond phlebotomy.

However, if you prefer a role focusing primarily on basic patient care activities, becoming a CNA could also be a suitable choice. A CNA role is more closely related to a nursing role than a PCT.

Regarding your question about being hired as a CNA if you train as a PCT, it's not guaranteed. It depends on employer policies and state regulations. You'll likely have to take the CNA certification exam and meet all certification requirements.

Ultimately, the decision between CNA and PCT training should align with your career goals, interests, and opportunities in your area. 

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth