Patient Care Training Programs and Courses Overview

Patient care training programs prepare aspiring patient care technicians to work alongside doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. They direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings. Patient care technicians work in multiple medical departments, including phlebotomy, nursing, respiratory and EKG areas.

Training Requirements and Recommendations

Patient care technicians are employed by hospitals, long-term care facilities, doctors' offices, nursing homes, labs and clinics. They must have advanced knowledge of basic nursing skills and be cross-trained in a variety of medical procedures. Most patient care technician programs require students to have a nursing assistant certificate.

Patient care technicians must be prepared to observe and report any changes in a patient's condition, perform basic nursing duties and assist patients with tasks they cannot do for themselves. Aspiring patient care technicians should be familiar with medical terminology and have a basic understanding of CPR and first aid procedures.

Formal Education

Patient care training programs can be completed in as little as five weeks or take as long as one year. Offered by community colleges, vocational schools and technical institutions, patient care programs prepare individuals for entry-level positions in the healthcare industry.

Certificate Programs

Patient care certificate programs include lectures, practical exercises in medical laboratories and real-world experiences through off-campus clinical practice. Students learn to perform clinical procedures such as blood collection, catheterization, recording of vital signs and coordination of patient treatments. Other topics covered include patient safety, mental health issues, communication and respiratory care procedures. Required coursework typically includes:

  • Phlebotomy
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Glucose monitoring
  • Patient care skills
  • Advanced CPR

Job Experience

The hands-on clinical experience gained during a patient care training program is typically sufficient to gain entry-level employment as a patient care technician. Most entry-level positions provide on-the-job training as well as concentrated experience in specialty areas such dialysis or phlebotomy. Some employers, particularly large medical organizations and private physician practices, prefer to hire individuals with at least one year of experience.

Licenses and Certifications

After completing an accredited patient care technician program, graduates are eligible to take the national certification exam, which is administered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA), to become Certified Patient Care Technicians (CPCTs). In order to maintain their certification status, CPCTs are expected to complete a minimum of five continuing education credits on an annual basis. Continuing education credits can be completed through self-study courses offered by the NHA or through courses and seminars offered by other healthcare organizations and colleges.

Additional Professional Development

The specialized training and knowledge provided by patient care programs can be used as a stepping stone to more advanced medical careers. CPCTs can advance their careers by enrolling in programs for registered nurses or medical assistants.

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