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Patient Care Technician


Patient Care Technician

The purpose of this course is to prepare students to become a patient care technician (PCT) professional. Students will develop an understanding of the status of today's healthcare system, proper ethical and documentation practices, and caring for patients regardless of age or condition. Additional topics the student will encounter include the safety of all within a healthcare facility, properly cleaning and sanitizing patient and workspaces, and more. All skills learned in this course will help students become more confident in their ability to perform their tasks above expectations.



Access Length

12 Months





Course Overview

The content in the certification course will prepare students to take the associated industry recognized exam. Please note that the individual state requirements may vary.  Students will be responsible to check with their state’s governing body for state-specific requirements.

This course prepares students to take the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) Certified Patient Care Technician/Assistant (CPCT/A) certification exam.

Students will:
  • Understand the importance of trends present in today’s health care system and their role as a patient care technician (PCT)
  • Gain awareness of various ethical and legal ramifications that are part of the core responsibilities of being a PCT at a health care facility
  • Define and comprehend commonly-used terms within the health care sphere – including anatomical, neurological, physiological, and psychological ones as provided within the text
  • Comprehend various ways the workplace for employees, patients, vendors, and visitors can be presented as safe and sanitary as possible
  • Develop an understanding as to how to administer care to patients including basic emergency care, reading vital signs, and the like
  • Providing patient assistance within a health care facility in a professional and courteous manner (e.g. bathing, grooming, fluid discharges, oxygen needs, etc.)
  • Apply concepts learned to assist patients in different intake and outtake scenarios that would be common at a health care facility (e.g. surgery, temperature-specific, rehabilitative and restorative care)
  • Comprehend and apply techniques learned to specific patient demographics, mental capacities, and condition levels

Course Outline:

Lesson 1: Introduction To Today’s Healthcare

Becoming a patient care technician (PCT) is an important job in any healthcare environment. In this lesson, we will explore trends in today’s healthcare system and review their implications of healthcare reform when delivering care to patients. Factors that may cause changes or adjustments to how healthcare is delivered is also provided here. The role of a PCT and how it varies from a certified nurse practitioner (CNA) and factors with respect to career growth and certification expectations are included here next. Finally, the professionalism and ethical nature of the position with respect to verbal and nonverbal communication rounds out this first lesson.

Lesson 2: The Patient

In this lesson, the patient is the focus of the reading materials and objectives within the chapters read. PCT’s need to understand a number of different factors that can impact a patient’s life as they age and are services in a health care facility. This may include personal, cultural, and religious influences that may positively or negatively affect them and their condition. Additionally, ethically treating patients and assisting with ones that may have a limited grasp of health literacy are also conversed here. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) is another topic that is described here because it helps distinguish differences between ethical and nonethical behaviours. The third chapter of this lesson goes into some detail with respect to the anatomy and physiology of a human being and how different factors can benefit one’s life as they age. The final chapter of this lesson reviews pain management, patient comfort, rest, and sleep. Within those, two of the most commonly used descriptions of pain are McCaffery and Pasero’s scales. The conclusion of this lesson reviews sleep and how one can determine if they’re being deprived of sleep.

Lesson 3: Safety – Part One

This lesson is one of two that is focused on the safety of PCT’s, patients, and others that are often in a health care environment. Within the chapters covered here, we begin with going into an in-depth overview of the safety of health care professionals and PCT’s. This includes the explanation details with respects to infections, standard operating procedures (SOP’s), and proper hand hygiene. Another important part of the first chapter covered here is the proper attire PCT’s must wear to provide the best care possible to all – including the disinfection and sterilization of garments, gloves, and other like items. With this base in place, attention turns to safety in the facility and proper guidance to assist in most emergency situations. Understanding these procedures then applies the best course of actions to take ensuring patients are just as safe as others should something occur. It is important to understand that safety considerations vary by the patient based on a number of factors provided both in this lesson and ones elsewhere in the course. Ensuring the safety of all in a health care facility is everyone’s business regardless of what role they play. Information provided here ensures PCT’s are equipped with the best strategies possible to make sure that takes place.

Lesson 4: Safety – Part Two

The second part of the two lesson series on safety in healthcare facilities shifts gears to emergency medical situations and injury prevention. The first chapter of the pair goes in-depth with respect what PCT’s should do in various situations that require immediate action. This includes the type of equipment that commonly must have on hand, their role in an emergency, the performance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and assisting patients in critical situations. Wrapping up that chapter includes the legal and ethical concerns that may arise from medical emergencies. The other chapter provides extensive details with respect to preventing accidents in the facilities PCT’s commonly work in. This includes working through situations that require one to be immobile, proper positioning of patients, range-of-motion exercises (that PCT’s are recommended to do often), and strategies to promote a restraint-free environment. Ensuring all the aforementioned is done successfully provides the greatest level of safety and care for patients and health care professionals at all times.

Lesson 5: Patient Assessments

This lesson covers different assessments PCT’s often do with patients and assisting other health care professionals administering care. Within this lesson, three chapters are covered with respect to ways to achieve this goal. To begin, participants will gain the knowledge to prepare, maintain, position, and assist patients and examination rooms they may be seen in. This also includes assisting routing physical examinations and using proper body mechanics the authors mention in the text. The second chapter within this lesson focuses on properly documenting and assessing vital signs of patients seen. This includes temperature conversion, factors that may influence readings, proper measurement of pulses, respiratory rates, body temperature, and blood pressure. Rounding out the discussion of vital signs provides students with the knowledge to measure and locate a patient’s pulse rate at multiple locations on their body. All things related to electrocardiograms (ECG’s) rounds out this lesson as PCT’s will gain knowledge on obtaining and monitoring readings done on patients. Inclusive in this concluding topic is the potential legal and ethical concerns that may arise when performing this procedure. Students should understand that this one of the most important components of their role as a PCT when assisting other health care professionals and carefully review this lesson prior to continuing on with the course.

Lesson 6: Patient Care & Comfort – Part One

Within the text, the authors go into great depth about strategies and techniques a PCT would be responsible for when caring for patients in a number of different conditions and circumstances. The first four chapters of this topic are discussed in this lesson. We begin with how one would assist with admitting, transferring, and discharging patients and how HIPPA plays a part when these transfers take place. Once a patient has left the facility or is being serviced elsewhere in the facility, care for the patient room follows next. Within this next chapter, the main topics of focus specify different hygienic strategies for caring for specific types of patients as well as properly making hospital beds – whether occupied or not. Continuing along the same theme, patient grooming is the third core subject of discussion in this lesson. This includes personal hygienic practices as well as how to care for patients. This includes their shaving, hair care, nail care, and so on. The last chapter of this lesson concludes by providing the necessary knowledge to accurately and properly providing nutrition and fluids to patients.

Lesson 7: Patient Care & Comfort – Part Two

In the previous lesson, the focus was brought on to provide knowledge as to how to assist patients with common hygienic and nutrition needs. The second half of the topic on patient care and comfort switches gears to give students the knowledge to perform various procedures that are common with one’s life. Assisting with urinary elimination, including the use of catheters begins the discussion and reading here. The second core topic of this lesson focuses on the opportunity students have to learn and list the observations made about defecation and the factors that affect bowel movements. Bowel training is provided as part of the required reading material which provides PCT’s knowledge to promote comfort and safety during defecation and eliminate bowel problems should they occur. The concluding topic on patient care and comfort in this part of the course provides insight on one of the two core needs of any person alive: oxygen. Within the last chapter, students will have an opportunity to learn how to care for patients that have oxygen needs. This includes patients with tracheostomies and receiving oxygen therapy.

Lesson 8: Blood Specimen Collection & Testing

This lesson within the course is focused on collecting various specimens that patients may be required to provide a health care facility. Specifically, for this lesson, blood and urine. The first chapter of focuses on collecting blood samples using the appropriate pieces of equipment (e.g. syringes and evacuated blood collection tubes). Once those processes have been provided, ensuring that biohazardous waste is properly disposed of and specimens are handled correctly continues the lesson. Similar to the other chapter here, great detail is provided ensuring the patient is as comfortable as possible with respect to collecting specimens before, during, and after procedure takes place. Urinary analysis and specimen collection continue the lesson with emphasis standard precautions that must take place when handline said items. Though several types of urinary analysis test procedures are highlighted in the chapter, specific focus hones in on routine urinalyses, urine cultures, and sensitivity testing. Conclusively, this is one of the most important lessons on the back half of the course because PCT’s should expect to conduct these tests on an almost daily basis with patients.

Lesson 9: Surgery & Immobility

The second to last lesson for this course focuses on the topic of patient surgery and when patients may be immobile – whether temporarily or permanently. Within the four chapters that comprise the lesson, the first one begins with techniques to properly care for a surgical patient. This includes comprehensive knowledge gained on how to properly perform a surgical scrub pre-procedure, during the procedure, and post-procedure. Bandage and wound care are also other topics that are in focus to begin the lesson out as well. The next chapter goes into detail about how to properly apply heat and cold applications to a patient. One should take note of the precautions that should be taken prior using either (or both) method(s) when assisting a patient requiring surgery. On the second half of the lesson, an emphasis is provided on caring for wounds and treatment of pressure ulcers. Included in the discussion are the common stages of wound healing, healing by primary and secondary intervention, and potential complications that could result. The concluding chapter in this part of the lesson focuses on post-surgical techniques to rehabilitate and restore a patient back to a positive condition. As one should know, the levels of these post-care techniques will vary from one patient to the next and thus, it is important to apply knowledge learned from other parts of the course for the best action plan possible for them.

Lesson 10: Special Care Concerns & Settings

The final lesson of content provides comprehensive details on a number of specialized situations where patients of various demographics may need different care treatments comparable to others requiring it. To start, students will learn the best ways to care for mothers and their newborn child(ren). This includes comprehensive discussion in the physical characteristics, behavioral, and reflexes younger children may possess. Older adults, the other side of the spectrum age-wise continues the lesson along. Note that these patients have specific requirements much in the same. This includes how their anatomy and physiology of body systems change due to ageing as well as legal and ethical concerns that may come about when helping them out. Regardless of the age group, mental health and the comprehension of what patients may feel is the middle topic of this lesson. Patients with chronic conditions follow the aforementioned topic as students will understand how their role as PCT’s factors in caring for patients with chronic conditions. To conclude the content portion of the lesson and course, the end of life care a patient must ultimately face wraps things up. This includes in providing justified recommendations for patients to be placed into hospice care and other things related to this specialized service provided to persons nearing the end of their life.

All necessary course materials are included.


This course prepares students to take the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) Certified Patient Care Technician/Assistant (CPCT/A) certification exam.

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