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Patient care technician/assistant vs Certified nursing assistant (PCT vs CNA vs PCA)

PCT vs. CNA vs. PCA

pct vs cna

The term CNA stands for Certified Nursing Assistant, PCA stands for Patient Care Assistant and PCT stands for Patient Care Technician. These three terms have a lot in common and are used alongside. However, there are some small differences, for instance they differ slightly in their task performance. Though there is a difference in these careers, so an individual should know the key differences before choosing careers between them. In this article we will compare these professions in terms of their training, duties and responsibilities, salary and other important factors.

Comparison(pct vs cna)

1.    Definition

  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)


A nursing assistant provides the most basic care usually to the patients that are aged or disabled, under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN). A CNA interact daily with their patient as compared to patient care assistant and patient care tech. CNA basically acts as the eyes and ears of a Registered Nurse.

  • Patient Care Assistant (PCA)/Patient Care Technician

pca vs cna vs pct

Patient Care Assistant and a Certified Nursing Assistant are almost the same. CNA nurse is also know by nursing aides whereas PCA nurse is also known as Patient Care Tech (PCT).They both work alongside with patients to perform medical care such as taking vital signs, feeding, bathing etc. But a PCA usually performs some additional task that a CNA cannot, such as EKGs.

2.    Requirement for Registration

  • CNA: To get registered as a CNA you need to have a high school diploma or GED.
  • PCA/PCT: to get registered as a PCA/PCT, a nurse aide license, phlebotomy or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is essential.

3.    Certification Requirement

  • CNA: To become a CNA an individual should take training course of 4-12 weeks and then qualify for the exam to get his/her certification. After every two years this certification must be renewed.
  • PCA/ PCT: To become a nurse aide tech an individual should have interpersonal and communication skills. There is no need of any extensive healthcare knowledge. The requirement for PCA is different in almost all the states. Sometimes a CNA certification is required depending on the state. Most of the states require certificate to draw blood or a phlebotomy license for PCTs and a license for ECG.

Related: What is CNA, RN and PCA Nurse?

4.    Training

PCT vs CNA vs PCA training

  • CNA: As per the requirement of the state an individual need to take 4-12 weeks (75 hours) of training classes to become a CNA. These training classes can be taken through healthcare institutes, such as nursing home, hospitals and care centers. It consists of classroom and clinical training.
  • PCA/ PCT: Training program for PCA and PCT also differs throughout the states. An individual needs to take 20- 24 weeks (120 hours) of training to become a PCA nurse. In addition, it includes courses like ECG and phlebotomy.

5.    Work experience

    • CNA: For a nursing assistant there is no actual need of work experience. But you can still gain some to help you out in your career
    • PCA/ PCT:In some healthcare facilities, to become a PCA nurse or a patient care tech work experience as a Phlebotomist, CNA or ECG technician is required.

6.    Duties and Responsibilities

  • CNA: The formal duties of a CNA include helping patient in moving and repositioning them, bathing and dressing their wounds, taking vital signs, like blood pressure, sugar, weight etc and recording temperature.
  • PCA/ PCT:The formal patient care tech duties are same as PCA that include checking nutritional value of patients, doing laundry, escorting and helping the patients with operations, drawing blood, EKG and ECG reading and basic laboratory work and hooking up telemetry PTs.

7.    Salary

  • CNA: An average nursing assistant can earn up to an average salary of $24,000 annually. That means a CNA can earn an average of $12.62 on hourly basis.
  • PCA/ PCT: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a PCT or PCA earned up to an average of $8.93 – $15.19 hourly, while the annual salary was $18,000 to $32,150 (as per June 2015)

8.    Alternative Work

  • CNA: A CNA can work in different categories and different places, like in care centers, hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers, pediatric department, hospice, etc. They can also be hired and reassigned from one place to another. They are completely eligible to work even in home health agencies except the critical care units.

PCA/ PCT: Apart from CNA duties PCA can get a job in critical care units, blood banks, ER, ICUs, cancer clinics and even dialysis centers. They work as a team along with 4-5 nurses and they can handle up to 12-16 patients at a time. If they like, they can specialize in various medical settings and carry on career in non-medical personal care service agencies as well.

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