pct vs cna

When it comes to a PCT vs CNA career path, which is the best route for you? What are the differences between these two jobs? To start, what is a PCT and what is a CNA? A CNA stands for certified nursing assistant. PCT stands for patient care technician and is like the work of a CNA. But a patient care technician career path usually requires more education and specialization. PCT’s generally perform more advanced medical tasks than CNA’s.

When you compare CNA vs PCT job descriptions, you will notice some similarities. People in both careers usually work under registered nurses or licensed practical nurses. They also work to keep spaces clean and sanitized.

You’ll find both are a great fit for people who are strong communicators, compassionate, and patient. Both CNA and PCT careers also require you to have a degree of physical stamina. You’ll spend a lot of your work day on your feet. You may lift patients and help them move around. Learning safe techniques for heavy lifting is key!

Now that we know how the jobs are similar, let’s compare the differences of a PCT vs CNA.

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What a patient care technician does

A PCT works under a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, or doctor. They play an important role in the health and safety of a patient.

Most PCT’s work in nursing homes, but others work in:

  • Hospitals
  • Home healthcare settings
  • Ambulatory health care services
  • Retirement communities

A typical day in the life of a PCT may include some more advanced tasks. In any given day, a PCT may collect blood samples. They are also trained to use an EKG machine. These tasks and others are more complicated than the traditional care tasks of a CNA. That’s why a PCT will usually need to undergo more training. The scope of the work of a PCT may also be larger. They may have more tasks and responsibility than a CNA on a day-to-day basis.

So how do you know if a career as a PCT is right for you? Here are some questions to start.

  • Do you do well or thrive under pressure? Because the work of a PCT is more advanced, it’s important to keep a cool head in stressful situations.
  • Can you handle the sight of blood and other bodily fluids? This might seem obvious, but these are things you will deal with every day on the job as a PCT (and as a CNA).

PCT duties

As you can see, a certified PCT will have a busy work day. Among the job duties of a PCT:

  • Taking and recording vital signs
  • Drawing blood from patients
  • Assisting patients with tasks like bathing and dressing
  • Administering EKGs (electrocardiograms) and recording results
  • Turning, repositioning, and transferring patients between beds and wheelchairs
  • Listening to patients’ health concerns
  • Reporting any concerns to nurses or the greater healthcare team

What a CNA is

A certified nursing assistant performs similar duties to a PCT. But the work scope of a CNA is more limited. In most states, a CNA is not tasked with administering EKGs, or drawing blood. In some cases, they may not even take vital signs. Instead, they are more focused on immediate patient care. Their tasks can include transferring patients, taking their temperature, and helping them bathe, dress, and eat.

A CNA plays a crucial role in observing patients and reporting on how they’re doing. Hospitals and nursing homes are busy places. Often, registered nurses are pulled in many directions, and rely on the observations of CNA’s to coordinate the care and well-being of their patients. Nurses have to manage teams of people in addition to treating patients.

Ready to compare a CNA vs PCT career? Here are a few questions to ask.

  • Are you a people person? A career as a CNA can be rewarding for extroverts.
  • Are you a good listener? Following directions from a nurse or doctor is essential. You’ll also listen to the patient as they advocate for what they need.
  • Are you the type of person who does not enjoy sitting behind a desk? If the traditional 9-to-5 office setting sounds like a drag to you, the work of a PCT can be an exciting career option!

Certified nurse aide duties

Now that you have an idea of the differences in a CNA vs a PCT, you may be able to better imagine a day in the life. On an average day, a CNA might:

  • Help a patient get ready for the day
  • Collect urine samples and deliver them to the appropriate place
  • Track a patient’s progress
  • Clean and sanitize patient areas
  • Change bandages and other adhesives
  • Enter health and billing information into the computer system
  • Transport patients across facilities or to appointments
  • Help a patient move from a wheelchair to a bed (or the other way around)
  • Stock and organize the facility’s medical supplies

The key differences between these two careers

The key differences in a PCT vs CNA career is the education required and the tasks performed. In both career paths, you will need a high school diploma or GED. From there, you can complete a training program. Training to become a PCT will include more advanced topics. You can learn how to perform key job duties like phlebotomy and electrocardiograms.

Whether you’ve decided on a CNA vs PCT program, it’s important to make a plan for yourself.

Research programs to learn more about the curriculum they offer. For future PCT’s, make sure your program prepares you for national certification.

A good PCT program should cover key topics like:

  • Specimen handling and processing
  • EKG lead placement
  • Infection control
  • Ethical, legal, and other matters of privacy and confidentiality under HIPAA
  • Procedures for venipuncture and capillary collections

Get started on the career path that fits you best at Training Direct!

Ready to start your career in healthcare? Whether you decided on a PCT or a CNA career, Training Direct has programs to help you succeed. For people interested in becoming a PCT in Connecticut, Training Direct offers an immersive program. Each course is designed to provide students with the tools needed to pass certification. The program includes three components:

  1. Nurse Aide Training
  2. Phlebotomy Training
  3. EKG Technician Training

Training Direct encourages all graduates to pursue applicable certification, however, Training Direct makes no promises of a student’s or graduate’s outcome on a certification exam or their ability to gain recognition from a professional registry. Additional fees and requirements may apply in order to pursue certification and are the responsibility of the student.

Training Direct has determined that its Nurse Aide program curriculum is sufficient to fulfill educational requirements for certification in the State of Connecticut only. No educational determinations have been made for any other state, district or US territory in regards to certification requirements.

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