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Patient Care Technician Training Programs and Requirements

Patient care technicians, also called nursing assistants or nurse aides, perform basic care procedures in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes. Their duties include monitoring vital signs, drawing blood and performing electrocardiograms, as well as assisting patients with feeding, bathing and transporting. Some formal education, industry training and state certification are generally to work as a patient care technician.

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Training Requirements and Recommendations

One must possess a high school diploma before pursuing a career as a patient care technician. Most employers look for candidates who have completed a patient care technician certificate program and are state certified; however, some employers will hire students currently enrolled in patient care technician certificate programs or have completed a training program offered through a hospital, nursing home or technical center.

Hospital training programs generally last 2-3 months and combine classroom instruction and hands-on training. Some hospital training programs might be open to high school students, who are then prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation; others require previous experience as a nursing aide.

Formal Education

For those looking to complete a formal training program, many community and technical colleges offer patient care technicians certificate programs. Most programs take one year or less to complete and prepare students for state certification exams; some programs require applicants to hold a CPR or EMT certification before applying.


A patient care technician certificate program combines classroom lectures, lab work and clinical experiences. Courses address basic skills, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), phlebotomy, electrocardiography and first aid. Patient care skills and techniques, such as bathing, feeding and grooming, are also covered. Some programs might also include the development of advanced nursing skills and clerical courses.

Job Experience

Some certificate programs include an internship at a hospital or clinic where students gain hands-on experience as a patient care technician. Prospective patient care technician must complete 6-12 months of clinical experience to be eligible for employment at many hospitals and clinics.

Licenses and Certifications

The National Health Career Association (NHA) grants clinical certification for patient care technicians, associates and nurse technicians. Completion of specific training programs and experience in the field is required for one to take the national certifying exam. While certification is voluntary, some states require certification in order for patient care technicians to work in certain environments, such as nursing homes or hospitals.

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