The healthcare sector is one of the most rewarding industries for long-term employment because it has several different career options for both licensed and unlicensed personnel and provides unique ways to have a positive influence on the lives of others. Although the path to becoming a successful nurse or a well-respected physician requires many years of college education and advanced medical training, those who work in unlicensed allied health positions are often able to perform supportive activities with only a high school diploma or GED. While many medical establishments do require patient care technicians to complete a short training program and a national certification exam, expectations can vary depending on the employer and it is important for those who are not required to acquire formal credentials to have a basic understanding of the benefits that come with voluntary certification.
Those who have no previous experience with patient care may find it difficult to compete for openings in specialized departments such as surgery, radiology, psychiatry, and cardiology. Individuals who want to work in one of these fields often find that initial employment as a generalist technician provides them with the basic knowledge and skills they need to strengthen their resume and compete alongside more qualified job applicants. Some of the more popular entry-level positions include that of the nurse aide, medical assistant, dialysis technician, home health aide, and orderly. Recent changes in the healthcare regulatory environment have led many administrators to start requiring entry-level technicians to pass a national certification examination, but there are still many opportunities that do not require credentials.
Technicians who work for an establishment that does not expect them to become certified in a general area of practice are strongly encouraged to voluntarily pursue credentials because of the many benefits that they bring. In general, an individual who has demonstrated that they have met the widely accepted standards of competence in the industry is provided with hiring preference. This is true because certified technicians tend to be received better by patients and often make fewer mistakes. In addition, those who have formal credentials may require less training and supervision as they become oriented to the unique needs of the patient population being managed within a particular office. Each of these benefits typically leads to lower costs and higher revenue for the employer.
The training program and patient care technician certification exam that an individual chooses to pursue should be relevant to the department in which they have been hired. Although a generalist will have a pretty easy time when deciding which exam to take, those who plan to pursue a specialty position may need to select from a wide variety of options that are specific to their area of practice. In addition, there may be governmental regulations that must be followed in order to work within a specific department. For example, dialysis technicians are required to pass a state or national certification exam within 18 months of hire in order for the employer to continue receiving funds for the services they provide. These details are often addressed during the interview and orientation period.
A career as a patient care technician in either a general or specialty area of practice is a very rewarding employment option for those who enjoy interacting with others and who are passionate about helping patients experience a better quality of life. While formal credentials may not be required by all employers, they can help establish a profession as a legitimate part of the medical industry and are often included in reimbursement standards established by both governmental and private insurance agencies. Those who work for an organization that does not require technicians to become certified are encouraged to voluntarily acquire credentials as a means for improving their earning potential and so that they can transition into a specialized area of practice that allows them to focus on a smaller set of patient care responsibilities.