What Is a Patient Care Associate?

by E.M. Rawes
On average, patient care associates earned $25,620 in 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

On average, patient care associates earned $25,620 in 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

The demand for patient care associates has increased. This is mainly a result of health care reform and an increase in the aging population, according to Patient Care Assistant. You encounter patient care associates -- also known as patient care assistants or patient care technicians -- when you visit a hospital or another medical facility to receive medical treatment. Patient care associates perform many of the tasks that help to promote your comfort during your hospital stay.

Necessary Education

As with many positions, the education requirements for a patient care associate vary based on your location. Generally speaking, to become a patient care associate, you must complete a short course at a community college or technical school that teaches you the fundamentals of patient care. Enrollment in these programs generally requires a high school diploma or equivalent. If you are a nursing student in your first or second year of school, your nursing education may be enough to fill the education requirements for the position. Some states require that patient care associates become certified nursing assistants.

Skills Needed

To be the ideal patient care associate, you should be a compassionate, patient individual who puts people at ease with your presence. You must be quick on your feet -- problem-solving is no problem for a patient care associate. You should also be proficient with a variety of tools and technologies. Thermometers, stethoscopes, pulse oximeters and glucose monitors are examples of tools a patient care associate uses on a regular basis. You may use various software, such as word processing software, spreadsheet software and medical software, like medical record charting software, O*Net reports.

What They Do

As the name of the position implies, you care for patients in this job. When a patient calls via an intercom or bell system, you answer and come to his aid. As a patient care associate, you may feed, clothe, bathe or move patients who are staying in the medical facility to a different location. Depending on the facility where you work, you may also have more technical duties, such as administering medication, taking vital signs and taking specimen samples. You may deal with medical devices, such as catheters and suppositories. Clerical duties are also part of your job. Organizing patient records, taking insurance information and documenting patient vital signs may be a part of your daily tasks, O*Net reports.

Related Positions

The BLS classifies patient care associates under nursing aides, orderlies and attendants. Nursing aides and attendants have job duties and responsibilities similar to those of a patient care associate. In nursing homes and assisted living facilities, attendants are the primary caregivers. Orderlies specialize in patient transportation within a medical facility. They also clean medical equipment. Patient care associates, orderlies and nursing aides report to a nurse who, in turn, reports to a physician.

About the Author

E.M. Rawes is a professional writer specializing in business, finance, mathematical and social sciences topics. She completed her studies at the University of Maryland, where she earned her Bachelor of Science. During her time working in workforce management and as a financial analyst, she reinforced her business and financial know-how.

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