Confessions of a Medical Assistant / Patient Care Tech

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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plussizeraver

I f you all look yes it says medical assistant at the top but when he introduces his-self he says i am a cna geeshhhhh!!!

September 01 2011 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cathy Flores

Medical assistants are not nursing assistants and are rarely referred to as “patient care techs”. Medical assistants work primarily in physicians' offices and out-patient care facilities where they perform many administrative and clinical duties.



Employers are increasingly demanding that the medical assistants they employ be graduates of accredited medical assisting programs and be CMA (AAMA) credentialed by the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants. Below is a quick overview of the types of tasks a CMA (AAMA) does during a typical workday. (Duties vary from office to office depending on location, size, and specialty.)



Administrative duties may include...

Using computer applications
Answering telephones
Greeting patients
Updating and filing patient medical records
Coding and filling out insurance forms
Scheduling appointments
Arranging for hospital admissions and laboratory services
Handling correspondence, billing, and bookkeeping


Clinical duties vary according to state law and include...

Taking medical histories
Explaining treatment procedures to patients
Preparing patients for examination
Assisting the physician during the exam
Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens
Performing basic laboratory tests
Instructing patients about medication and special diets
Preparing and administering medications as directed by a physician
Authorizing prescription refills as directed
Drawing blood
Taking electrocardiograms
Removing sutures and changing dressings

January 27 2011 at 10:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michelle

Hi Susan, It depends on what state you live in. In my experience Massachusetts is the highest paid but the cost of living is also higher. Very expensive living in Massachusetts and the taxes are insane.

January 21 2011 at 3:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dorothy

Good Lord! don't let me get sick in TEXAS. A MedTech "giving stiches"? IV's, Drugs???

It has come down to the "ones who know the least are doing the most". What has happened to all of the RNs who are educated to evaluate, care for and monitor the treatment of patients? We are now going for those with 6 weeks of "training" to do these complex tasks???

What the blazes is going on in Texas Health Care???

January 21 2011 at 2:33 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Jane

I can't beleive this article. I am a Medical Assisting instructor and have also been a PCT instructor and there is absolutely no connection between the two professions other than that they are both in the medical field. CMAs are not nursing assistants. The education for a CMA is much more involved. Our students study Anatomy and Physiology, Disease processes, Medical Terminology, Phlebotomy, Electrocardiograpy, Primary Care and Specialty Assisting, and Pharmacology. CMAs also receive training as administrative assistants. A CMA is a highly trained member of the medical team and not a nurse. As a nurse myself, I know Nurses are primarily trained to work in hospitals or long term care facilities. CMAs are trained to work with physicians in their offices or clinics. This article is totally misleading.

January 21 2011 at 2:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jane's comment
Tazz J

of course this article is old, but i agree with you! i am a medical assisting student at a community college, and as i continue this program, i am a PCT at the local hospital...i have did much research and there is literally a HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A NA (nursing assistant), CNA (certified nursing assistant, MA (medical assistant..that only has a diploma...correct me if im wrong please) CMA (certified medical assistant...that has an associates degree. at least thats how they have it where im from)...although where i am from MED ASSISTANT STUDENTS ACTUALLY DONT HAVE TO TAKE A&P 1 OR 2, PHYSIOLOGY, DISEASE PROCESS OR PHARMACOLOGY BUT THE PROGRAM DOES OFFER A LOT MORE THAT IS GREAT!!

January 13 2012 at 10:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nicole

I am CMA and this article descibes a CNA. Big difference, not knocking CNA's. As CMA's we have to have much more hands on training and keeping up with our certifications...I am also a certified phlebotmist. The CNA's I work around are not certified to do any tests or even give injections, thats a Medical Assistants job, in my hospital. Although CNA's do have a vital role in caring for the patients a CMA is more clinically trained, but we are also trained to nurture and support. But I think we as health professionals (CNA's and CMA's) care about our patients well being, it is the most important aspect of our jobs.

January 21 2011 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
poetess

Yes, CMA's assist physicians in the doctor's office. CNA's work in nursing homes and hospitals. A nursing home CNA gets paid poorly. A hospital CNA gets paid (at least in MA) quite well. And the best paying job for a CNA is a nursing agency.

January 21 2011 at 12:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to poetess's comment
kmkm24

First time posting anything on the internet so bear with me.

First of all, the title of the article is misleading. What confessions? This is sensationalism at its best.

Also, in MASS and NH (where I am from)the Medical Assistant works about 96% in the outpatient arena, while the CNA or LNA would most often work in the LTC or in-patient setting. I have been teaching this program for about 25 years and the CMA standard varies across the country. The LNA's or CNA's are promoted to Patient Care Techs, not he CMA's. And in this part (northeast) of the country they perform phlebotomy, they take ECG's along with dressing changes and usual LNA responsibilities. The CMA can also work as a PCT but they would need to become an LNA first as the BON in each state usually requires that cert or lic. I am sure there are those who cross over these disciplines but most often not. I do agree that the article is misleading in its title due to the fact it will confuse those not in healthcare. But her message was wonderful. She loves her job and the patients. This is a good message to share among all disciplines.

January 21 2011 at 1:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cass

Only two years ?
Lets see how he likes it after ten years and after Obamacare kicks in. He obviously hasn't been spit on, thrown up on or shat on enough yet.

January 21 2011 at 12:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Laura

You all need to get a life.

It seems you missed the POINT of the article. Nitpicking the title, typos, etc. Find something better to do. It's people like you that make the world a NEGATIVE place.

I found this article uplifting, and it seems like Teddie really enjoys the job he is doing. THAT'S WHAT MATTERS!

January 21 2011 at 12:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Laura's comment
poetess

I think that a proper title and correct grammar is important. If you are reading an article on the President or on world affairs you would expect the grammar to be correct and you would want the title to be appropriate to the article. CMA's, CNA's, CHHA's are the backbone to the health care community and they deserve respect also. I think that if you are a writer then you should do that job effectively. Research should be done so that you know what you are writing about. This article should be titled, Teddie Knows That He Is Not A CMA. wtg Teddie.

January 21 2011 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Laura

I agree that proper grammar is important. However, I find it unfortunate (and somewhat reflective of the hateful attitudes of people these days) that you can't get off of your soapbox for just a moment to give some thought to the content of the article.

Try not to miss the forest for the trees.

And I think you meant "wth", not "wtg".

January 21 2011 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Laura

Who cares about the title?!! GREAT ARTICLE Teddie - keep up the good work! :)

January 21 2011 at 12:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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