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How Do I Become a Critical Care Technician?

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  • Written By: Susan Abe
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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A critical care technician is a job title of recent origin describing a constellation of unrelated tasks or chores that require attention in a critical care or intensive care unit (ICU). These tasks and chores have always required time and attention in such a high-pressure atmosphere. In the past, they were the responsibility of the unit's registered nurses (RNs). With the rise of and increasing numbers of certified nursing assistants (CNAs), those chores that did not require a registered nurse's education or clinical skills were soon delegated to nursing assistants. To become a critical care technician, you must therefore be prepared and willing to complete non-clinical chores in an intensive care unit.

The only education required to become a critical care technician is a high school diploma or a general educational development (GED®) certificate. Critical care technicians are untrained and are not educated or licensed in any paraprofessional or professional healthcare field, such as CNAs or RNs, for example. Their only training may be in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and a brief orientation to their assigned unit and the overall hospital facility. Hence, their interaction with patients is limited according to their employer's particular regulations. Some facilities allow critical care technicians to assist patients with postural changes or activities of daily living (ADLs), while others prohibit any physical contact with patients.

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In most Western hospitals, the position of critical care technician is simply not recognized within the institution. Instead, some of a critical care technician's duties are performed by CNAs while other tasks are the responsibility of other departments. For instance, in those facilities that do utilize critical care technicians, one of their duties is reported as restocking supply carts or linen carts. In hospitals that operate without this separate title, a central supply technician might restock supply carts while a hospital laundry employee would restock the unit's linen cart. Clerical duties and paperwork are typically performed by the unit secretary.

Most critical care technician positions appear to be offered by very large medical facilities or those associated with the US federal government. Avoiding smaller community hospitals and applying instead at large medical centers or veterans hospitals may help a job seeker to become a critical care technician. Previous employment experience in the medical field may also help an applicant to become a critical care technician.

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