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Patient Care Degree and Certificate Programs

Read about patient care certificate programs including what types of schools offer them and what the curriculum includes. Find out about skills needed in this profession and learn about certification, employment projections and salary expectations.

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Essential Information

Patient care technicians provide supportive and technical services to patients in health care settings such as hospitals and nursing homes. Patient care technician education typically occurs through certificate programs offered by 2-year colleges and vocational schools.

A patient care technician certificate program provides specialized training in communicating with patients, documenting medical information, performing technical procedures and tending to patient needs. Patient care programs are similar to nursing assistant programs; however, they offer greater technical training and build upon the skills of a nurse's aide. It's common for patient care certificate programs to also award nursing assistant certificates because they cover many of the same courses.

Skills for success include a nurturing attitude, empathy, dependability and a desire to help others. Graduates often find employment in clinics, assisted living facilities, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, private practices and long term care facilities. Upon earning certificates in patient care, individuals may choose to seek national certification by taking the National Certified Patient Care Technician (NCPCT) exam. National certification often expands employment opportunities.

Education Prerequisites

Prospective students must have high school diplomas or GEDs for admission into certificate or degree programs. Academic transcripts are required.

Program Coursework

A certificate program in patient care may take one year to complete. In addition to learning basic patient care skills, students receive lab instruction and participate in supervised clinical activities. Courses may include the following:

  • Medical terminology
  • Expanded patient care principles
  • Phlebotomy
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Health care ethics
  • Patient care clinical practicum
  • Electrocardiography

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Because patient care technician is a relatively new healthcare role, employment outlook data is difficult to find. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012, nursing assistants earned a median annual wage of $24,420, depending on years of experience.

Continuing Education Information

Undergraduate degree programs in nursing or medical assisting are available for individuals seeking to further their patient care skills and employment opportunities. Associate's degree options include the Associate of Applied Science in Nursing and the Associate of Science in Medical Assisting. At the baccalaureate level, student may pursue the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics