The newly enacted health care reform bill and the aging population in the United States have certainly influenced the demand for patient care assistants. It is expected that these paraprofessionals will enjoy abundance in employment opportunities from here on after due to the reasons mentioned above. The ever expanding role of nurses also add to the demand for additional health care members who are tasked to focus on providing care, comfort, and wellness to patients.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the continuous growth of the health care industry made a positive impact in the demand for patient care assistants, nurse aids, and nurse technicians. In fact, the growth rate for patient care assistant demand far exceeds the average national growth in other fields of industry. If you want to fast track to a rewarding career in the field of health care, obtaining a patient care assistant certificate is the best means to achieve your professional goal and more.
Job Description Patient Care Assistant
The job responsibilities of a patient care assistant involves the execution of direct and indirect non-professional nursing care to children, seniors, disabled, and patients that need care as part of a holistic approach to medical management and intervention.
Duly-certified patient care assistants are found across all medical and nursing care settings:
- Home setting
- Nursing homes
- Psychiatric centers
- Rehabilitation centers
- Assisted living facilities
The duties entrusted to a patient care assistant is mainly based on one’s educational background, years of experience, and advanced certifications. All fifty states have established their respective job description list. Roles enumerated are automatically assumed by patient care assistants once they start employment in any type of health care environment. Institutions may deem to add more duties onto the list.
Although the list of responsibilities differs across institutions, there are a number of roles which are found to be common in all of them. Here are the basic duties that patient care assistants assume on their work setting:
- Taking and recording of vital signs
- Obtaining lab specimen for basic diagnostic examinations
- Assist in the transport and transfer of patients from one place to another
- Provide needed assistance to patients for proper execution of activities of daily living (ADLs)
- Receive and order of supplies that are needed in the provision of care to patients
- Basic clerical tasks and functions
- Record keeping or charting of observations of the activities and details of clients
- Responsible in the provision of a safe, clean, and comfortable environment for patients
- Keep track of activities, appointments, and schedules on behalf of clients
These basic functions are to be executed by the patient care assistant in a timely and efficient manner. The performance of a patient care assistant significantly affects the overall quality of care that a patient receives. When compared alongside the job of doctors and nurses, that of the patient care assistant is identified to be basic, but is just as equally crucial in the successful treatment and fast recovery of patients too.
A patient care assistant with high level of experience and ability may even go on to become a Licensed Nurse Practitioner (LPN) after several years of hands-on experience. There are nursing health facilities that give out grants and scholarships to patient care assistants so they can continue with their studies and become registered nurses in the future.
The application of basic nursing techniques is a routine for patient care assistants. Methods of proper sanitation, personal hygiene, and obtaining and keeping record of vital signs are concepts that will all be applied once a patient care assistant starts his job as one.
Patient care assistants almost, always work under the supervision of a licensed nurse or a medical doctor. There are advanced duties which they can execute provided that there is a full consent from a supervising officer. Managers also consider additional trainings which may have been completed by a patient care assistant during the process of distributing tasks to patient care assistants.
Education and Certification
Interested individuals only need to take a short course in any community college or health care learning facility that offers patient care assistant course. A full course typically last for one full semester. There are also accelerated programs which professionals can readily take as well. The accelerated classes can last from 2 to 4 weeks and are ideal for professionals who already finished a course related to health care. LPN and RN students on their second year can start working as patient care assistants too.
The patient care assistant course is comprised of classroom lectures, laboratory, and clinical experience. It is mandatory for patient care assistant students complete at least 240 hours under the program. Of this 240, at least 120 hours is expected to be allotted for clinical training in various health care institutions.
Once a student meets the requirements, passes the exams, and completes a patient care assistant program, he still may need to take certification exams to be considered eligible for work and deployment. There are states which do not require its PCAs to get certified, while there are states which are strict in their policies and mandate that all patient care assistants get certification as requirement for them to practice.
The certification exam is designed to test the knowledge and skills of graduates. Those who pass the exam will then be duly certified by National Nurse’s Aide Assessment Program and will be considered by the Family Care Safety Registry as reliable and knowledgeable in the provision of direct care to patients.