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What Is It To Be A Patient Care Technician

On my first day as a patient care technician, it became overwhelmingly clear just how extensive this job would be. Everything was a new or unknown concept- the employees, the layout of the hospital, the new equipment I would be working with. I was in the surgical intensive care unit shadowing a nurse, because the patient care technician I was formally assigned to shadow, called off earlier that day, subsequently making me the only technician within the unit. When I accepted this position, I was nervous, but I wanted to be challenged by these unknowns and further explore my passions within the healthcare field first-hand. However, two short hours into my first shift, everything changed. Our patient fighting ovarian cancer began hemorrhaging.

Without hesitation, I asked the nurses and doctors in the room what I could do. With only the aid of a scribbled map on a sticky note from the nurse, I ran to grab the ultrasound machine, I called the operator for a stat x-ray, and brought a chest tube from the cardiothoracic intensive care unit. I was told our team was going to initiate a massive blood transfusion protocol; however, our patient would be awake and aware the entire procedure due to low blood pressure and inability to take pain killers. With adrenaline overpowering my body, I knew that I would do anything in my power to save this woman’s life. I ran through the hospital, back and forth to the blood bank, sweat down my back, with only that thought running through my mind. After 50 units of blood were administered, I stood in the room sweating, heart racing, focused, and began to realize I helped pilot a miracle as our patient’s status began to improve. It was that unknown moment, it was the sweat and adrenaline, it was the single look into her eyes, it was the diligent focus of our team- it was that moment when everything changed. I realized that I wanted this feeling of selflessly and unexpectedly saving a life other than my own for the rest of my life. This is how I found my passion in geriatric healthcare.

During my time working in New York as a patient care technician, I was able to capitalize on my ability to adapt, perform, and succeed under pressure, as well as identify how these strengths aligned with my passions and my professional goal of becoming an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. I was able to expand upon this journey and discover more about my attraction to nursing while working full-time at The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute as a patient care associate. Each day, I focus on the patient and their family, I gain insight to their perspective and concerns, and I work to provide unbiased and holistic care. This position requires unwavering focus, strong emotional intelligence, and effective, meaningful communication. Through the use of these invaluable skills, my mind and soul were enlightened with the vulnerable nature of my field; I discovered the stories beyond a patient’s medical chart.

My work allows me to connect with individuals beyond their disease, every experience I share with a patient is personal and unique. Their stories grasp my heart: stories of travelling the world, or their tribulations with their past careers, or their adoration for their new grandchild, or as simple as knowing which patient takes one cream and one Splenda in their coffee. Each story is distinct from another yet are all brought to a level playing field by cancer, a nondiscriminatory, unforgiving disease. It is at this crossroad, I discovered the amount of humility and commitment it would take to continue my future nursing career. As I gained more experience at The James, I identified the key role of diversity not only with my patients, but with my coworkers as well. Each employee has a unique personality and skill-set that creates a collaborative, well-functioning environment. It has been my exposure and opportunity to work with these nurses that has recently drove my passion to go above and beyond my job title’s requirements.

This year, I wanted to serve as a leader in my community relating to my profession. As I researched different opportunities in Columbus, it became an apparent choice to pursue Pelotonia, a fundraiser that has raised over $157 million for cancer research. This innovative, three-day event, encompasses bike rides up to 200 miles, various volunteer opportunities, and the rewarding chance to connect with cancer survivors. I took on the role as Greek Life captain on my campus for the fundraiser. I was responsible for connecting and inspiring a community of over 7,000 students to contribute to the cause and actively get involved. I recruited a team of students who were willing to go beyond a simple donation and commit their time and efforts to riding and volunteering with me for Pelotonia. Through my leadership and guidance, my team of riders were able to raise thousands of dollars for the cause. As a rider and captain, I knew raising funds would be challenging. I partnered with a fraternity and local businesses to organize a successful, day-long fundraiser with discount incentives at various locations close to campus. This role encouraged my growth as a leader and further challenged me to break out of my comfort zone. My collaboration skills and networking capabilities allowed me to exceed my own expectations as a team leader and captain for Pelotonia. This leadership role has allowed me to excel as an undergraduate student who wanted to make a difference within my field. My dedication and drive will lead me to excel as I continue my education and pursue my career as a nurse practitioner.

Pelotonia, combined with my past experiences, connects with my passion to serve as an advocate for my future patients through a holistic approach towards treatment and healthcare. My firsthand experience, both as a patient and the healthcare provider, has demonstrated the critical role nurses play in the relationship between the patient, their family and the healthcare team. Often there are discrepancies between the desires, needs and concerns between these groups. As a clinical research intern at Endocrinology Associates, I had the opportunity to conduct several clinical trials for conditions such as Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. I collaborated with a preceptor, nurse practitioner, doctor and my peer research interns to recruit qualifying patients. Working with this cutting-edge research, I gained understanding as to how nurses are able to bridge the gap between patients and providers through patience, creative problem-solving and effective communication. These skills proved to be crucial when working with patients and establishing a trusting relationship. I adapted my communication style to effectively explain the details of the study and diminish confusion to the patient. Through patience and careful listening, I was able to establish trust and an open, safe environment for the patient to communicate their concerns. This became a key component of feedback for our team to improve our study.

Additionally, my experience as a clinical research intern at an adult-only specialty practice allowed me to further identify how my skills aligned with my passions to pursue higher education and maintain a career focus within Adult-Gerontology Primary Care. While my experiences within the health field continue to broaden, my excitement to purse my professional and personal goals exponentially grow each day. My short-term goal is to earn my Master of Science in Nursing, and I plan to use it as a foundation for my desire to continually broaden my education and knowledge within the health field. I believe this will grant me the ability to provide safe, compassionate, and up-to-date care to each patient. It is critical in the field of medicine to continue challenging providers to expand their knowledge and further research in order to provide optimal, personal care to patients. In pursuant effort to achieve this goal, I plan to work as a patient care associate until I am eligible to sit for the NCLEX before transitioning to work as a staff nurse at The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. These academic and professional goals are stepping stones to reach my dream of working in internal medicine at an outpatient office that specializes in endocrinology. In congruence to providing optimal healthcare, rather than a reactive method, I will continue to utilize a proactive, holistic approach, ultimately educating my patients how to take control of their diagnosis.

As my time as an undergrad student comes closer to an end and nostalgia begins to set in, I am reminded of my first day as a patient care technician. One day my boss handed me a metal angel. She told me the patient we saved on my first day gave each staff member who served as her angel that day a metal angel. She wanted each of us to have one watching over and protecting us. This angel hangs in my room, serving as a constant reminder of my progression and development since that first shift. It reminds me to act with courage to face the unknowns, to stay curious and rise above the challenges I face and continue to serve as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of others. My time at The Ohio State University and my firsthand experience within the field of medicine has laid the necessary foundation of education, skills and pure passion to pursue my dreams of becoming an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner.

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