Patient Care Technicians are a most intimate point of contact with patients undergoing dialysis treatments. These specialized technicians give comfort, guidance and quality care for these patients, making their visit to a dialysis center one of calmness and hope.
Becoming a PCT is not difficult, and it strengthens an individual’s opportunities in the field of medical practice, not only in the field of Nephrology, but also in many other areas of health care. If you wish to become a Dialysis Technician, enjoy a team-oriented atmosphere where you can build relationships and provide superior clinical care, this is the place to start.
What is a Patient Care Technician?
Generally, Patient Care Technicians work along with doctors and nurses in the medical field, playing a role in assisting patients with quality healthcare. They are the people that have the most contact with the patients, even more than the doctors and nurses attending.
PCTs assist patients with many tasks that they may not be able to do for themselves, such as taking a bath, brushing their teeth, eating and the like. Other names for this function are certified nurse assistant, hospital attendant, or health care assistant.
When Patient Care Technicians work in the field of Nephrology, they are working in dialysis centers and providing care for patients who are receiving treatment for renal failure. They learn particular functions unique to dialysis care.
In dialysis centers, PCTs work under nephrology nurses, providing safe and comfortable care for dialysis patients. They do many duties, including but not limited to:
- Receiving patients
- Weighing patients
- Taking blood pressure
- Measuring heart rate
- Connecting equipment
- Checking vital signs throughout treatment
- Monitoring equipment throughout treatment
- Disinfecting equipment
Keeping accurate notes is also an important function of the Patient Care Technician, as this is how the nurses assess the treatment, how well it’s working and if adjustments are needed.
Patients under dialysis treatment make regular visits to their treatment facility, and thus many Patient Care Technicians come to know their patients well, developing bonds and lasting friendships.
Working for a certain length of time in a dialysis facility will qualify you for further certifications in the field of dialysis care. Some of these certifications are:
- Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician (CCHT)
- Biomedical Nephrology Technology (CBNT)
- Clinical Nephrology Technology (CCNT)
Organizations exist that provide exams for these certifications, such as the Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology (BONENT), the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (NNCC) and the National Nephrology Certification Organization (NNCO).
Patient Care Technicians (once certified in a state-approved course of training) can also get jobs with other clinics, hospitals and wound care centers to care for patients in these facilities.
Certification as a PCT
The objective of getting a full education in dialysis technology is to become a certified technician. Before being eligible to be certified, a certain number of hours are required in a training program.
All Patient Care Technicians legally must get certified and follow the regulations of the CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services). Certification can be obtained by working at a Dialysis Facility with special training programs to help you become qualified for the exam.
Although many vocational schools offer training, many find working for dialysis facilities (such as DaVita Inc. or Fresenius Medical Care) offer great programs for training where you get paid at the same time. The National Healthcareer Association provides a PCT exam for $149.
Eligibility for the Certification
The requirements for certification as a Patient Care Technician are as follows:
- A high school diploma or a GED
- A state-approved training program completed
- A CMS-approved exam passed
Training as a PCT is a wonderful stepping-stone to becoming a trained Dialysis Technician, or obtain other certifications in the area of Nephrology. This certification will provide you with the understanding and expertise to give the quality care important for dialysis patients, who count heavily on their caregivers, so they can live a normal life.
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