How Do I Become a Patient Care Assistant?

Nicole Long

If you want to become a patient care assistant you must be comfortable working with patients and be able to demonstrate compassion. In addition, you will be expected to meet the minimum educational requirements and have the experience necessary to succeed in the position. Beyond that, patient care assistants should also be healthy and prepared for both the physical and mental challenges of the job.

Patient care assistants provide care to patients in hospitals and nursing homes.
Patient care assistants provide care to patients in hospitals and nursing homes.

Patient care assistants provide care to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and private residences. Often, they have the most contact with patients and serve as assistants to registered nurses and physicians. A typical day for a patient care assistant usually involves taking vital signs, assisting with personal care, and collecting specimens for testing.

A background in geriatric work is helpful when pursing a job as a patient care assistant.
A background in geriatric work is helpful when pursing a job as a patient care assistant.

As with most health care positions, you must be comfortable working with a diverse group of people if you want to become a patient care assistant. This includes the ability to communicate with patients of all ages, and from a wide range of economic and social backgrounds. The ability to demonstrate compassion is of the utmost importance. When caring for patients, an ability to connect and sympathize with their situations, while serving as an authority on care and treatment plans, is essential for both succeeding on the job and helping the patient recover.

Patient care assistants need to provide compassionate service to clients.
Patient care assistants need to provide compassionate service to clients.

If you hope to become a patient care assistant, you should focus on obtaining the appropriate amount of education. Typically, the minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma or an equivalent. In some areas, high school programs have been developed that offer patient care or nursing assistant training programs. These often include both classroom and clinical training to prepare graduates for entry into the profession immediately upon graduation.

Those who don’t participate in a high school patient care assistant training program can gain experience and needed training from a local career institute or community college. These programs provide the necessary skills and hands-on training to become a patient care assistant. Coursework focuses on topics including vital signs, first aid, and infection control, to name a few.

If you want to become a patient care assistant, you should be prepared for both the physical and emotional demands of the position. Many of the duties related to the job, such as moving and lifting patients, require someone with physical strength and stamina. In addition, you need to be able to remain on your feet for the majority of your shift. Emotionally, you need to be stable as the job can take a mental toll as you care for the sick and elderly.

Patient care assistants might help answer questions regarding medical treatment.
Patient care assistants might help answer questions regarding medical treatment.

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