someone checking blood pressure

What is the difference between a CNA and an A/CT?

One of the most common questions we hear at Caris College is, “What is the difference between an Acute/Clinical Technician (A/CT) and a Certified Nurses Assistant (CNA)?” The truth is that CNA training provides a few of the same skills taught in A/CT training but completing an A/CT program offers so much more, including three national certifications:  Phlebotomy certification, EKG certification, and Patient Care certification!

CNA Certification

Certified Nursing Assistants focus on the basics of patient care and frequently work in long-term care facilities. During CNA training you will learn to assist with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as feeding, bathing, dressing, personal hygiene and ambulation. CNAs can also take vital signs, measure input and output and keep their supervising nurse informed of any changes in the patient’s or resident’s status.

A/CT Diploma (with three national certifications)

Acute/Clinical Technicians focus on a higher level of skills and also receive certifications in three areas: Phlebotomy, EKG, and Patient Care.  Earning three national certifications throughout the A/CT program automatically sets you apart from other job seekers. You may find a position that requests the skills from all three certifications or you may find employment that utilizes just one certification.  

1. Phlebotomy Certification

What is a Phlebotomy Technician and what does it mean to be certified?

Phlebotomy is the practice of venipuncture; literally from the Greek phleba (vein) and tomy (to make an incision). Of course, the incision is made with a needle. Students who earn their Phlebotomy Certification will be prepared to collect blood for donations or testing by way of venipuncture or skin puncture. Caris College students are trained and certified to perform three different types of venipuncture: butterfly, syringe and evacuated tube system (ETS). Students must pass an exam during the course of the program in order to be certified by the National Health Association (NHA).

What does a Phlebotomy Technician do?

During the phlebotomy portion of the A/CT Program, students will learn the skills needed to draw blood that can be used for multiple laboratory tests. Drawing blood is the phlebotomist’s primary responsibility, but during the course of the program you will also be trained and certified to:

  • Assemble and maintain medical instruments
  • Properly sanitize all equipment before each use; maintain a clean lab
  • Communicate a clear explanation of procedures to patients and donors
  • Accurately label, provide storage and carefully transport blood collections
  • Collect patient information for data entry
  • Observe and follow strict safety protocols to avoid contamination or direct contact with blood

Where do Phlebotomy Technicians work?

  • Hospitals (state, local and private)
  • Medical & Diagnostic Laboratories
  • Ambulatory Healthcare Services
  • Physicians Office
  • Outpatient Care Centers

2. EKG Certification

What is an EKG Technician and what does it mean to be certified?

EKG stands for Electrocardiogram. EKG technicians apply 12 leads to specific points on the patient’s chest, arms and legs to measure the heart’s electrical activity. They are responsible for making sure that the EKG machine is working properly, printing out the results and communicating them to the physician. They also learn to read the results so that a physician may be alerted to potential issues, such as arrhythmia. Caris College students are also trained in the proper use of Holter monitors as well as the conduction of stress tests. Students must pass a comprehensive exam during the program in order to receive their EKG certification through the NHA.

What does an EKG Technician do?

EKG Technicians can perform multiple cardiovascular tests, including an EKG which records the heart’s activity. The results of these tests provide doctors with important information regarding the health of the patient’s heart. EKG Technicians edit the results of the test by analyzing the data and bringing attention to areas of concern or anomalies.  EKG Technicians work directly with patients by not only administering their test, but also making appointments, providing an explanation of the procedure, preparing the patient for the test and maintaining a calming environment and attitude so the test results are accurate. 

Where do EKG Technicians work?

  • Hospitals/ER
  • Cardiologist Office
  • Private Practice
  • Healthcare Clinics

3. Patient Care Certification

What is a Patient Care Technician and what does it mean to be certified? 

Patient Care Technicians work closely with patients performing the skills that are listed in the next section. All students must pass a comprehensive exam in order to be certified by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). 

What does a Patient Care Technician do?

Students are trained to perform skills such as: The collection of specimens to test for conditions such as strep throat or influenza, the insertion, care of and removal of Foley catheters, the communication of risk management issues with the charge nurse, supervisor or nurse manager, and the completion of incident reports as needed, maintenance of patient confidentiality per HIPPA standards and guidelines and the coordination and communication of patient admissions, internal transfers and discharges.

Performance of clerical responsibilities may include the filing of diagnostic reports, the taking of physician dictation, the preparation of interventional reports and the disassembly of patient charts at discharge. 

Where do Patient Care Technicians work?

  • Hospitals/ER
  • Private Practice
  • Healthcare Clinics

Which healthcare career path is right for you?

Choosing your next career path is an important decision and one that you should take time to consider. CNA training prepares you to take state testing to become a Certified Nurses Assistant and will provide you with a few options for a career opportunity.  However, as a graduate of an Acute/Clinical Technician program, you are prepared to enter a variety of work settings with three certifications: Phlebotomy certification, EKG certification, and Patient Care certification. This makes you very marketable and sought after with many healthcare providers. 

If you are considering a career in patient care and would like to know more about your options, feel free to contact Caris College or schedule a tour of the Jeffersonville, IN campus.