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Becoming a CNA vs. a Patient Care Tech

So you’ve decided you wish to pursue a career in healthcare – congratulations! You’ve selected a field that offers a variety of opportunities. Now that you’ve decided that a career in healthcare is what you wish to pursue, the next step is selecting a specific path to take and obtaining the necessary training to get you started on the road to your new career. There are a variety of allied health jobs and careers one may choose to pursue and it can often be confusing to identify the differences between various occupations. For example, a student may ask “what is the difference between becoming a CNA (Certified Nurse Aide) versus becoming a Patient Care Technician?” This is an important question, because there are a number of differences in these two occupations in terms of where they work, the duties they perform, and the requirements in order to enter the field under these titles. Below we’re going to explain some of the differences between becoming a CNA versus becoming a Patient Care Technician.

Where do CNA’s and Patient Care Technicians Work?

Both CNAs (once certified) and Patient Care Technicians can be found working in a variety of healthcare settings. For example, CNAs may be found working in long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, home health care agencies, extended care facilities, and skilled nursing facilities. Similarly, Patient Care Technicians can also be found working in many of these same settings but they may also be found working in hospitals, doctors offices, and medical labs as well.

What are the job duties that a CNA and a Patient Care Technician perform?

CNAs and Patient Care Technicians both play a vital role in today’s healthcare system by providing direct patient care and assistance. For example, those working in both roles may have close physical contact with their patients and can often be found assisting them with moving, bathing, feeding, and dressing. Communication with their patients and the patient’s family is also imperative for those working in both roles. Duties that a Patient Care Technician may perform (but a CNA would likely not perform) include blood draws, ECGs, monitoring and recording vital signs, and working with EMR systems.

Another one of the biggest differences in terms of the duties each perform is the type of patient they interact with on a daily basis. For CNAs, given the settings they are often found working in (see above) they most often work with the elderly and end-of-life patients. Those who are working as a Patient Care Technician, however, could work with patients of all types depending upon the setting they are working within and their job assignment.

Are there other requirements to become a CNA or a Patient Care Technician?

It’s always important to check any role or position that one may be pursuing to see if an employer requires any type of licensure or certification. In order to obtain employment as a CNA, one has to challenge and pass the State of Michigan Certified Nurse Aide Competency Evaluation, which allows them to be placed on the Michigan Nurse Aide Registry (that’s why they call it a “Certified” Nurse Aide). For Patient Care Technicians, certification may be desirable but isn’t necessarily required in order to obtain employment in the field.

Patient Care Technician Training at Dorsey Schools

The Patient Care Technician diploma program at Dorsey Schools provides comprehensive classroom education and practical hands-on experience that are earned in the supervised clinical hours of the program’s externship component. Students enrolled in this program will receive thorough training in the skills required of a patient care technician, which include electrocardiograms (ECG), phlebotomy, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), among others.

  • The opportunity to develop the skills that are necessary for providing quality patient care in a variety of medical settings.
  • Training in infection control, pharmacology, and procedures for administering medications.
  • Exposure to the structures of the body, common diseases, treatments, and laboratory tests and coverage of medical terminology.
  • An externship with a local hospital, physician’s office, long-term care facility, acute care setting, or other medical facility is included during the last module of training to provide experience in a medical facility and for professional exposure.
  • Dearborn Campus
  • Madison Heights Campus
  • Roseville Campus
  • Southgate Campus
  • Waterford-Pontiac Campus
  • Wayne-Westland Campus

Ready to take the next step? Learn more about the Dorsey Schools Patient Care Technician program by requesting info today!

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