The Difference between a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and a Patient care technician (PCT)
Certified Nursing Assistant Vs. Patient Care Technician
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and Patient Care Technicians (PCTs) are both healthcare professionals who provide direct patient care under the supervision of licensed healthcare providers, such as nurses or doctors. However, there are some key differences between the two roles in terms of training, scope of practice, and job responsibilities.
Training and certification
CNAs typically complete a state-approved training program, which usually takes 4-12 weeks. After completing the program, they must pass a state competency exam to become certified. Some states may use the terms “Certified Nurse Aide” or “Nursing Assistant” interchangeably with CNA.
PCTs generally undergo more extensive training compared to CNAs. PCT programs may take 3-6 months or longer and often include training in additional skills such as phlebotomy, EKG monitoring, and basic laboratory procedures. After completing the program, PCTs can obtain certification through organizations such as the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Scope of practice
CNAs primarily assist with basic daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and feeding patients. They also help with mobility and transferring patients, take vital signs, and document patient information. CNAs typically work under the direct supervision of a licensed nurse.
PCTs perform many of the same tasks as CNAs but have a broader scope of practice. In addition to basic nursing care, PCTs may perform more advanced tasks such as drawing blood, monitoring EKGs, inserting and removing urinary catheters, and assisting with wound care. The exact scope of practice for PCTs may vary depending on state regulations and individual employer requirements.
CNAs provide basic care and assist with activities of daily living, helping patients maintain their dignity and comfort. They also observe and report changes in patients’ conditions to the supervising nurse.
PCTs provide a similar level of care to CNAs but also perform more advanced tasks that require additional training. They often serve as a bridge between CNAs and licensed nursing staff, providing a higher level of care while still working under supervision.
CNAs can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including nursing homes, long-term care facilities, hospitals, and home healthcare agencies.
PCTs are also employed in a wide range of healthcare settings but may be more commonly found in hospitals, where their additional skills in phlebotomy and EKG monitoring are often required