Confessions of a Medical Assistant / Patient Care Tech

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A medical assistant, also be known as a patient care tech (PCT), is a person who assists nurses and doctors in completing procedures and monitoring the status of patients. This job requires an attentive and responsible individual to insure patients receive the proper care.

My name is Teddie Wiggins. I am 23 years old and have been a member of the Arkansas Methodist Medical Center staff for almost two years. I began working at AMMC in December 2008, after completing the Certified Nursing Assistant program at Arkansas Northeastern College in Paragould, AR.

Keeping to a Schedule

I love my job, but most of all I love the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. I am part of the staff referred to as the 'float pool', which means I work in several different departments of the hospital. Each floor has its own routine, with the emergency and surgical floors operate on an especially tight schedule. I get to work at 6:45AM every morning. My first order of business is to review patient reports from the prior shift. Next, I begin by taking vitals on all my assigned patients. These start up tasks, are usually completed by 8AM.

The next item on my agenda is to assist my patients with breakfast, and then to pick up all the trays to be sent back to the kitchen. Between 8 and 9AM, I begin providing towels and linens to the patients for bathing and assist all that need help with the process. While completing these tasks, I also assist the less-mobile patients to reposition in their beds every couple of hours, and assist them with transfers to-and-from the restroom, bed, or chair, as required. T

Lunches for the patients arrive between 11AM and 12PM, so I start taking a second round of vitals before getting each of my patients ready for lunch. Lunch trays are picked up by 1PM, and I continue assisting patients with bathing until they've all received a bath. Between 1 and 1:30PM, we collect the total intake and output (of bodily fluids) on each patient. This requires the emptying and recording the amount of refuse found in catheters, urinals, bedside commodes, and colostomy bags. Additionally, all patient diapers must be weighed and food intake must be recorded.

We literally monitor everything each patient eats and drinks throughout the day. This information is collected, complied, and then forwarded on to the nurses. Throughout the day we chart the time and task that we performed on each patient. My CNA instructor always said, "if it is not charted, it is not done." Sometimes other tasks are added to the day's tasks, such as taking vitals on postoperative patients or assisting new patients into their gowns, upon admission to the hospital. The workday ends with briefing the incoming shift on patient reports.

Different Departments, Different Rhythms

When I work in the emergency room, it is a much faster rhythm, as so sometimes things get kind of hectic. My job requirements in the Emergency Room (ER) are just slightly different from what I usually do on the other floors. I still take vitals and assist patients to the restroom, but I also transfer patients to and from other departments, and take specimens to the lab.

The main priority in the ER is to get everyone seen, treated, and released or admitted in a timely manner. I love working in the E.R. because every day is completely different. Most patients who wind up being admitted to the hospital come through the ER, so it's our first line of defense in our service of the local community. As a whole, the ER staff members are very dedicated. I worked with a nurse recently who looked at the shift schedules that needed to be filled and decided to give up her day-off to ensure that the ER's staffing were met, and the patients were taken care of.

Occasionally, I get to work in the Obstetrics department. My job requirements on this floor are taking the vitals of both the mothers and infants, as well as assisting the mother and infants with bathing and changing linens. My responsibilities also include feeding infants and documenting their food intake into our computer system. I also assist with transporting the babies back-and-forth between the mothers' rooms and the nursery.

A Simple but Vital Reward

Over the past two years, I've found that patience is a skill one must have in order to be a PCT. I was able to develop quite a bit of patience while working on the Rehabilitation floor. This floor is designated for patients recovering from broken bones, strokes, and generalized weakness. The nursing staff works alongside physical and occupational therapists to teach the patients how to take care of safely take care of themselves so that they can return home. This floor also employs PCTs to assist patients getting dressed and undressed each day.

Healthcare in general and the field of PCTs in particular requires hardworking and kindhearted individuals. I would recommend my job to anyone who is looking to make a difference in the lives of others. If I were to give just one piece of advice to new PCTs, it would be to complete as many tasks as possible while in the patient's room, since it's often difficult to get back into a room once you leave. That and to remember not to panic! As a PCT you should do as much as you can on a single shift, but realize that no matter how efficient you are, there will always be more work to do. That's the reason that hospitals work on shifts, and there's always a crew coming in to pick up where you left off.

While assisting others I have experienced true gratitude and appreciation for the help that I and other PCTs provide. I often hear from the patients that "the smallest gestures are the most appreciated." I know that the thanks I get from my patients is the best part of my job, and I love it.

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