What Is a Nurse Technician and How Do You Become a Nurse Tech?
Under close supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or doctor, a nurse technician is involved in many aspects of a patient's care. Many nurse technician jobs were created for nursing students or nursing graduates who have not yet received licensure. Some technical and junior colleges have programs specifically for nurse technicians, sometimes also called patient care technicians.
Job Duties of a Nurse Technician
Nurse technicians help patients eat and bathe, observe them and record their vitals; they report any changes in a patient's condition to the healthcare supervisor. Duties may also include preparing rooms, sterilizing equipment and escorting patients to examining rooms or to surgery. Depending on state laws and the rules of the work site, nurse technicians may assist the physician during examination and treatment of the patient or administer prescribed medications. They may draw blood, care for ventilators and monitor machines.
Process for Becoming a Nurse Technician
Step 1: Go to Nursing School
A number of nurse technician jobs were developed by hospitals or other healthcare facilities specifically for nursing students who wish to work in a nursing capacity while in school. A requirement of these jobs is that the applicant be a student nurse. After the first year of a nursing course, a student is able to do the work of a certified nursing assistant and a little more. As the student progresses through the nursing program, he or she will be given more advanced nursing-type duties.
Alternate Step 1: Go to Nurse Technician School
Sometimes, prospective healthcare workers want to have more responsibilities than certified nursing aides do, but they do not wish to become registered nurses (RNs); other times, individuals want to get more of a feel for a nursing job before they commit to an RN program. Becoming a nurse technician may be a good choice for them. Programs specifically for nurse technicians usually take nine months to complete.
Step 2: Take a Certification Exam
State Nursing Boards generally do not oversee or require certification for nurse technicians. However, most schools that offer a Nurse Technician Certificate also administer a certification test at the end of the course. This is in cooperation with the National Healthcareer Association (NHA), and the voluntary certification is nationally recognized. If your school does not administer this test, contact the NHA (www.nhanow.com) to take it on your own. Many nurse technician job listings request certified nurse technicians, so passing this exam can open job opportunities.
Step 3: Apply for a Nurse Technician Job
Of course, once you are trained and certified as a nurse technician, you want a job. Prepare a resume, check with your school or hospital to find potential jobs (and search the Internet), and send out your applications.
Step 4: Take Continuing Education Classes
To meet mandatory industry standards and maintain your certification, you need to take at least five continuing education credits every year. These may be taken through the NHA, although there will often be local or other programs offered that will satisfy both your employer and the NHA.
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