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Hospital Patient Care Aide: Job Description and Information

Discover what work a hospital patient care aide performs. Learn about training and education requirements in addition to employment outlook and salary to determine if this is the right career for you.

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Hospital patient care aides work as health care assistants specifically in a hospital setting. They work under the supervision of and take direction from staff nurses and doctors. Typical duties of a hospital patient care aide include taking hospital patients' temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration; assisting patients with basic tasks, such as bathing, dressing, and eating; preparing and administering some medications; collecting specimens for lab tests; monitoring patients; and recording treatment.

Required Education Varies by state and hospital; generally includes at least a high school diploma or equivalent; further training needed for certification
Job Duties Include assisting patients with basic tasks, such as bathing, dressing, and eating; collecting specimens for lab tests
Median Salary (2015)* $25,710 (all nursing assistants)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 17% growth (all nursing assistants and orderlies)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

The requirements to become a hospital patient care aide vary by state and hospital. Generally, you'll need at least your high school diploma or the GED equivalent. Hospital patient care aides may need to complete a set number of training hours and pass an exam to become certified as a nursing assistant, depending on the type of care they are giving, the state in which they work and hospital regulations.

Skills Required

Hospital patient care aides need to be in good health and physically fit, because their work includes assisting and, when necessary, physically moving or repositioning their patients. Since they work as part of a team of medical caregivers and often have many patients, hospital patient care aides should also work well as part of a team, follow directions well, and be able to prioritize tasks. Experience as a caregiver or hospital volunteer could also help prepare you for a career in patient care.

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Economic and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) doesn't have data specifically for hospital patient care aides, but the job outlook for the broader field of nursing assistants and orderlies is very good. Employment in this field is expected to grow 17% from 2014-2024. The median annual wage for nursing assistants in this field, including hospital patient care aides, was $25,710 in May 2015, according to the BLS.

Alternative Careers

Here are some examples of alternative career options:

Medical Assistant

For those who want to perform similar patient care duties in a doctor's office, becoming a medical assistant may be something to consider. Medical assistants prepare lab samples, set up appointments and procedures, take vitals, document medical histories, administer medications and assist with clerical tasks. A high school diploma may be all that is needed to enter this field, but pursuing a related medical certificate could be beneficial. In May of 2015, the BLS reported that the median yearly wage for these medical professionals was $30,590. It also projected employment growth of 23% for this profession between 2014 and 2024.

Registered Nurse

If more involvement and responsibilities when caring for patients is desired, a career as a registered nurse could be an option. Registered nurses communicate with doctors and assist in setting up treatment plans. They also give medications and execute treatments, operate medical devices, assist with tests, observe health conditions and record medical information. Formal education for this profession ranges from a career diploma to an undergraduate degree in nursing. Those with higher levels of education have more of an advantage in the hiring process. All states require licensing of registered nurses, and this includes completing an accredited program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). According to the BLS, 16% growth in this field will occur during the 2014-2024 decade, and registered nurses earned a median salary of $67,490 in 2015.

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