Patient care technicians, also known as PCTs, include nurse aides, certified nurse assistants and similar medical assistants. These professionals require specialized training, but do not need as much education as a nurse. They perform basic tasks like helping the patient move or groom, as well as taking vitals and gathering patient information. Some also perform clerical duties. In most cases, you can become a PCT in a year or less.
One route to becoming a patient care technician is to receive training through a hands-on, on-the-job training program. In these programs, you learn your skills by working under a licensed nurse or nurse aide. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this type of training can be as short as just a few days, depending on exactly what the employer wants you to do as a patient care technician. Generally, however, training continues for at least several months.
Formal Training Programs
The second option to becoming a patient care technician is to enroll in a formal education program designed for PCTs. Most of these programs include all of the information necessary for certification as a certified nursing assistant, as well as additional information that makes a PCT slightly more advanced than a regular CNA. Some programs take as little as six weeks, as shown by the Mississippi Health Association (Health Careers Center) website. In most cases, programs usually last around 24 weeks, or roughly six months or 600 hours. Some programs may last up to 12 months, depending on the complexity of the program. Taking some of your courses online can make a difference in how soon you finish, with online courses allowing you to work at your own pace.
In addition to your training, you must take competency and certification exams. Depending on your state's requirements and the organization you go through to take the exams, completing the tests and getting your scores back can take as little as a day or as long as four to six weeks.
The fastest route to becoming a patient care technician is to learn in an on-the-job program. You may be able to become a certified PCT in as little as six weeks, but depending on which program you enter, your training could last up to a year. A longer program may help you feel more prepared before getting a job, but hands-on training programs offer more immediate practical experience. How long it takes a person to get a patient care technician job depends on their ability to network, the quality of their work and resume, and the demand for PCT jobs in your jurisdiction. It may take a few months following your training and certification to find a position, although some programs will help to place you.