Before I became a nurse, I was a patient care technician (PCT) for two years while I was working to pass my nursing boards. I have learned so much about myself and my work ethic.
I think working as a PCT humbled me. It taught me how much I care about patient rights and their safety. I knew I wanted to work in the medical field as a registered nurse since I was in junior high school, but I didn’t realize how much I really would love it until I started working at Mayo Clinic.
While I was a PCT I always tried to stand up for what was right for my patients and my fellow co-workers. I believe that PCTs are just as much a part of the patient's care as nurses. Most of the time, PCTs know the patients so much more on a personal level.
When I was a PCT and walked into patients' rooms, I could tell if they were sad, not feeling well, in pain or if something was wrong just by looking at them. However, I didn’t realize how much the nurses do and how much time they really do spend with the patients until I started working as a nurse myself.
I think both the PCT and the nurse are vital to the care of each patient, and it's important that they work together with respect. I think it’s so hard for people who haven’t worked in both roles to know what the other does.
The PCT role is very physical, and the nurse’s role is mental as well as physical. Both work very hard and are extremely busy doing different tasks. The PCT assists the nurse with any daily activities he or she needs help with, such as giving patients baths, helping with toileting, inserting and removing catheters and many more tasks.
The nurse's role is giving medications, managing problems, contacting physicians with updates and problems, wound care and management, monitoring labs, giving blood products, accuchecks and insulin, along with helping the PCT and much more. After working in both roles, I really see how hard each person works to make sure the patient gets the best care possible. I think about both roles differently now, and I am glad that I got the opportunity to do both. My journey as a PCT to a nurse was long and hard, but I think it’s made me a more compassionate nurse.
Written by Nicole Barlanti, a registered nurse working on an oncology unit at Mayo Clinic's hospital in Florida