Allied health providers such as patient care technicians are responsible for several common tasks that are required to provide comprehensive Medical Administrative Assistants care to the public. Without these individuals, nurses and physicians would not be able to evaluate and treat nearly as many individuals and access to care would be severely compromised. While the job of a technician might not seem as appealing as that of a nurse or physician, it is an excellent opportunity for individuals who want to have a positive impact in the lives of others, but who have little interest in completing several years of college and specialty training. Those considering this career option should take some time to evaluate different pathways into the industry to make sure that they are pursuing avenues that align with their long-term objectives.
Individuals who have never worked in healthcare before and who have no college education are often able to enter the industry through employment as a nursing aide or assistant. While these positions do not pay as much as some specialty departments, they allow technicians to acquire the knowledge, skills, and reputation they will need to become a competitive applicant for more lucrative opportunities. The aide or assistant is generally responsible for routine tasks such as bathing, feeding, dressing, turning, and transporting patients. Though these tasks are not glamorous, they teach technicians how to offer compassionate care to individuals who suffer from a wide variety of debilitating conditions. As an aide or assistant, an employee may be required to complete an in-house training program and a nationally recognized certification exam.
Once a technician has spent a few years providing basic care to patients, they often decide that a more specialized area of practice is the best avenue for advancement. Fortunately, allied health providers are in high demand in nearly every branch of medicine and there are numerous opportunities for those who want to make a transition. Some of the most popular departments include emergency medicine, acute or critical care, nephrology, cardiology, emergency medicine, respiratory therapy, physical therapy, and ophthalmology. Additional fields of interest might include psychiatry, surgery, anesthesiology, and radiology. While most of these options do not require a formal college degree, it is fairly common for employers to provide hiring preference to applicants who have prior experience patient care and who are willing to sit for a specialty specific certification examination.
Although few states require technicians to be licensed or certified prior to beginning work in a specialty, there are a couple of important things to think about before deciding to work in more advanced fields such as radiology, cardiology, or surgery. Medical professions that manage high risk patients or that use potentially harmful equipment on a regular basis are more likely to have laws requiring technicians to be licensed, certified, or both. In fact, the government has even imposed its own rules for a few specialties that receive high levels of federal reimbursement. For example, all dialysis technicians are required to become certified within 18 months in order for the treatment facility to continue receiving government funds. Information about laws affecting other departments can be found by contacting local employers.