The duties of a patient care technician include checking vital signs, drawing blood, preparing blood and other specimens for transport to the laboratory, and performing pulmonary function tests or electrocardiograms. Providing assistance with eating, standing, getting in a wheelchair and using the toilet are among the technician's direct patient care duties. Patient care may also include assistance with bathing and dressing, wound care, and lifting and turning the patient.
Patient care technicians work under the supervision of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, usually in hospitals, long-term care facilities and clinics. Patient care technicians, also known as nursing assistants, usually have more direct contact with a patient on a daily basis than the doctors or nurses. They monitor and record the patient's status, vital signs and other factors impacting care on a daily basis to provide essential information for the doctor regarding a patient's condition. In addition, technicians often prepare exam rooms, maintain a log of and dispose of biohazardous waste, and ensure the cleanliness of the exam or patient room.
Computer skills, attention to detail and strong communication skills are vital to the patient care technician. Providing pertinent, thorough information to physicians in an efficient and timely manner is essential to a technician's effectiveness. As the primary patient contact, the technician must be able to provide information to patients in a manner that is both accurate and easily understood.
Qualifying as a patient care technician usually requires post-secondary training, most often the completion of a nursing, patient assistant or patient care technician course, as well as state licensing.