Health care technicians are allied health professionals that are a crucial first step in the patient care experience. Health care technicians work in clinics, doctor's offices, and hospitals. Depending on the facility, the health care technician may also be responsible for checking in patients, entering information in the computer, patient record keeping, and ordering supplies.
Your first step to become a health care technician is training. Training is offered in community colleges and technical schools across the country. Some states certify their health care technicians; others require another certification to work as a technician, such as practical nurse, emergency medical technician, certified nursing assistant, or patient care technician. Do your research before starting a training program to ensure that you will have the right certification for your state. Most certification courses will take approximately six months of training, including clinical hours and classroom hours.
The training typically involves cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), phlebotomy, performing electrocardiography (ECG or EKG), medication administration, basic patient care such as vital signs, and basic anatomy. It may also include administrative skills and computer skills. Many facilities that employ health care technicians will train you when you begin employment for the additional responsibilities of the technician in their facility.
Once you complete your training, it is time to find the right place for you to begin your employment. You have to decide where you want to work. A clinic atmosphere is going to be a totally different experience for you than a hospital atmosphere. A clinic may only have a couple of doctors or practitioners to work for whereas a hospital will have many. The pace of a clinic may be different too. The typical hospital will keep you continuously busy, especially in an emergency department. The hours will also be different. For example, most clinics have regular business hours. Hospitals, on the other hand, have longer shifts and shift work, so you may end up working non-traditional hours such as overnights or swing shifts.
The type of patient care you wish to do may help decide where you seek employment as well. Health care technicians in an Emergency Department may end up assisting with Foley catheter insertion or with personal cleaning of patients. In clinics, you would not have to do those kinds of tasks. You may do wound care, burn debridement, or just basic physicals in the clinic. It would vary depending on the practice.
Health care is one of the most challenging, rewarding and stable fields. No matter the economy, health care related occupations are continuously in demand. Health care technicians may choose to have a full and rewarding career as a technician, or may choose to further their education into nursing, paramedicine, physician assistant, or even medical school. Technicians can also specialize into fields such as radiology, surgery, sonography, etc. The possibilities are endless for dedicated health care professionals; as your experience increases and you enhance your education with online coursework and continuing education credits, you'll find your career really beginning to take off!