PCT VS. CNA: ONE STUDENTS JOURNEY
Autumn, current Patient Care Technician student at Caris College, is currently working as a Certified Nursing Assistant at a long-term care nursing home.
Autumn said there is a big difference when comparing the job responsibilities and duties of a Patient Care Technician (PCT) and a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). She said that is one reason why she is in the Caris College PCT program getting certified in patient care, phlebotomy, and EKG (all in our 10-month accelerated program!).
Listen to Autumn’s entire interview above!
AUTUMN’S JOURNEY FROM CNA TO PCT Q & A
Q: When did you first become interested in the medical field and why?
A: “I don’t know exactly what sparked the interest,” she said. “I used to want to be an obstetrician, so like the human body itself just fascinates me.”
She said learning about the human body and how it develops is just a few reasons why she became interested in the medical field.
Q: How did you find out about Caris College and the PCT program?
A: Autumn said she first heard about Caris College from someone in a CNA class she was taking at the time. From there she found the PCT program and did some research of her own.
“I looked up kind of what PCT was,” she said. “I like to venture on Floyds website to see what kind of job openings they have and just for kind of future references and stuff.”
It was while Autumn was on Floyd Memorials website that she found a job listing for a Patient Care Technician.
“I know what Phlebotomy is, I don’t know what PCT is,” she said. “So I looked it up, and then I was like that sounds actually kind of interesting and I could use that maybe to stair step onto something further.”
Autumn said she then filled out an information form and scheduled a tour at Caris College.
Q: What are you hoping to do career-wise after you graduate from the PCT program?
A: Autumn said she already has a career path in mind once she completes the accelerated PCT program at Caris College.
“I’m hoping to work the floor at a hospital or doctor’s office. Either or, I’m kind of torn, I might do PRN at one and part time at another.”
Autumn said if she works the floor as a PCT at a hospital she would be able to specifically do work in Phlebotomy, EKG and/or PCT.
PCT V.S. CNA
Q: Is there a difference between a certified PCT V.S. a CNA?
A: Autumn said PCT and CNA work varies greatly. Though PCT’s and CNA’s are two different things, she said in the medical field even nurses need to do tasks that CNA’s do.
“So you just can’t think of it as ‘I’m higher up on a totem pole so I don’t need to do that work,’” she said. “People need to educate themselves on healthcare in general and how the roles play because everything intertwines with each other.”
PCT V.S. CNA: JOB DIFFERENCES
Q: Is there a difference in career opportunities and what work is performed at jobs when comparing PCT and CNA roles?
A: Autumn said CNA’s work on maintaining patient’s appearances and making sure they are O.K. throughout their day. Some of those daily tasks include cleaning and feeding.
She said as a certified PCT the work responsibilities change and grow.
She said depending on the facility you work at as a PCT you could administer shots, performing wound care, doing cath inserts, DC catheters, and DC an IV line.
Autumn said there is more stacked up on the possibilities of work and it’s not just cleaning people.
“You’ve got a whole lot more responsibility on your shoulder and it’s just going to be a whole lot more fun,” she said.
Q: How will completing the PCT program at Caris College impact your future and job opportunities in the medical field?
A: Autumn said becoming a certified PCT and completing the program at Caris College is going to allow her to get into an area where she can have more choices for her future.
She said work wise it’s going to give her the opportunity to have more access to further her education in my future as well as allow her to have a better income.
She said now that she is in this program is has her thinking about heading towards nursing afterward.
“It makes you think about it,” she said. “Because a lot of the stuff you’re doing; nurses do too.”
She said it has made her think about the future and think about if she should further her education after graduation from the PCT program.
HAVING A GOOD SUPPORT SYSTEM
Q: How does having a good support system impact you while going to school and working as a CNA currently?
A: Having a good support system is something students can rely on for help and ease while going to school, coming back to school, and while working on top of classes.
Autumn said she has support from her family, instructors, and classmates.
“You learn to lean on your classmates too. They become major support,” she said. “But my classmates, the teacher, my family, they’ve all just been wonderful and supporting.”
She said the instructors at Caris College have played a big role in her support system as she completes the PCT program.
“[Liz] is really encouraging, she’s patient, and if you’re not getting something she’s going to take the time off or offer, you know, it’s up to you to take it,” she said. “She’s going to offer that time like she’s just great, she’s a big part in that whole support area.”
PCT: CERTIFICATIONS IN PHLEBOTOMY, EKG, AND PATIENT CARE
Q: What aspects that you would be able to learn in the PCT program surprised you?
A: “The administration of shots. I didn’t know we were going to be qualified to do that. And that really excited me,” she said. “And I think the wound care part too. Because normally, in long-term care, a good long-term care, it’s sectioned out like everybody has their own role, so not every nurse is supposed to do wound care. So then when I found out that PCT’s do wound care I was very excited. And catheters. I just got so excited.”
WORKING AS A PCT
Q: What is it like to work as a team member on a medical team?
Autumn said there is a lot of work that is put in when running a medical team and taking care of patients.
“I think people need to really open up their mindset and figure out what it takes to actually run a good medical team because every person plays a role and nobody is better than the next as far as taking care of your patient,” she said.
As a PCT you’re going to administer shots, catheters, wound care, and more.
“[A PCT] is not a CNA role, because as a CNA you do none of that. You do nothing like that at all. Period,” Autumn said.
LEARNING AND WORKING ON A MEDICAL TEAM AS A PCT
Q: What do you like about working hands-on as a PCT and learning hands-on in the PCT program?
Autumn said one thing she loves about the PCT program at Caris College and working as PCT is the amount of hands-on learning and work.
“I learn doing hands-on learning,” she said. “I can’t just sit and look at a book, I get distracted. I need hands-on learning. And with medical that’s how a lot of people need to learn.”
She said as a PCT your job possibilities grow because of what you’re certified to do.
“As a PCT you’re kind of like everything combined. Depending on where you’re [working] at, if you’re working at a Dialysis Center, you’re going to push Heparin,” she said. “You’re not doing that as an aid and in fact, I don’t know many aids who are working in a Dialysis Center. If any.”
Autumn said as a certified PCT she’ll be able to do much more than just aid work.
“As a PCT your scope of practice, it flourishes, it just opens up,” she said. “As a PCT you’re not limited to just doing aid work. Aid work is pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole. If there’s a totem pole it goes [top to bottom] Nurse, PCT, QMA (Qualified Medical Assistant), Aid.”