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The psychiatric technician helps to take care of people who are mentally or emotionally compromised, and may do so in a variety of settings like mental health hospitals, long-term care facilities, addiction treatment centers, or jails. These professionals have a number of jobs that may depend partly on their place of employment, level of experience and educational background. They may possess education that ranges from a basic certificate and a high school diploma to a four-year degree and higher level certification. One of the biggest responsibilities in most settings is interacting with patients and helping to provide some primary level care and assistance, but other work includes maintaining a watchful presence, contributing to treatment plans through assessment, and dispensing medications.
Many patients or those incarcerated due to mental illness need help with basic care. The psychiatric technician can provide some of that basic care and hygiene support. They might assist patients with grooming, bathing or showering, or they could provide vigilance while patients use devices that are normally not allowed on a ward, such as a hairdryer or a razor for shaving.
It’s not only during personal grooming times that patients need assistance. They need surveillance at all times, and in many wards, the psychiatric technician provides a constant watchful presence. This can help to reduce troubling incidents, and it can also help identify those patients who seem to be having the most difficulty.
When a psychiatric tech sees a patient with greater problems, he or she can approach that patient, talk to him, and help find solutions. Sometimes simply directing patients to planned activities helps or, occasionally, someone needs more assistance. Keeping in communication with patients is extremely useful, and can help them feel safer.
Since many of the places a psychiatric technician might work include facilities where people can become unpredictably violent or harmful to themselves, surveillance serves another purpose. Techs can also restrain patients. They can additionally remove patients from common areas, if needed, if they pose a threat or cannot be calmed.
The psychiatric technician has a significant interaction level with patients, which means many of these professionals have important observations that can influence treatment. Technicians are not only vital in carrying out treatment plans but may help create them. Though these professionals usually answer to nurses, occupational therapists, psychiatrists or psychotherapists, and those with more intensive training are contributing members of the team that help decide how to best deliver care to individual patients.
Another job of the psychiatric technician could be administration of medications, though this may vary. Sometimes nurses have this responsibility. In most cases techs can give emergency medication, like injections of antipsychotics or sedatives for seriously disruptive patients.
Many tech jobs are full time, and they may involve eight to 12 hours of work a day, depending on the setting. At overnight hospitals or care facilities, techs are needed around the clock, so this job can involve working night or swing shifts. People entering this field need patience, a certain amount physical strength, and mental stability.