How To Become A Patient Care Assistant | Jobs, Salary, Certification, Required Skills And More.

Patient Care Assistant

If you aspire to work in the healthcare sector but do not have the required qualifications, you can start off as a Patient Care Assistant pending when you advance your career in the healthcare industry.

What is a Patient Care Assistant?

A patient care assistant is a non-qualified nurse who provides basic health and personal care to patients in a clinical setting. They are responsible for assisting patients to carry out several basic hygiene tasks like bathing, dressing, helping them use the toilet, and feeding them.

Who is a Patient?

A patient is a person who is under medical healthcare, receiving it, waiting for it, or may have already received it. There are various types of healthcare staff who work and assist in the medical setting, some of which include doctors, nurses, patient care assistants, pharmacists, ward attendants, and others.

If you are aspiring to become a patient care assistant, you must ask yourself “what is a patient care assistant?” to have in-depth knowledge of the job. A patient care assistant works directly under the supervision of a qualified licensed healthcare professional, such as a doctor or a nurse. If you aspire to work in the healthcare sector but do not have the required qualifications you can work as a PCA.

As a patient care assistant, you can find work in places such as hospitals, nursing homes, residential care facilities, retirement homes as primary care providers, and patients’ homes as personal healthcare assistants.

According to the U.S BLS, 37% of PCAs are employed by nursing care facilities, making them the highest employers of PCAs followed by hospitals who employ 27%, retirement homes, midwifery facilities, and assisted living facilities who employ 11%.

Patient Care Assistant Job Description.

PCAs work in facilities that have to do with healthcare. They are responsible for assisting healthcare professionals in taking care of patients. Working as a patient care assistant can be quite stressful and risky because of the working environment.

PCAs are susceptible to contracting diseases from the patients that is why it is very important for them to strictly follow the guidelines and regulations which come with working in the healthcare industry.

They need to take extra precautions by wearing personal protective equipment face masks or shields, gloves, eyewear, overalls, etc to protect themselves against contracting communicable diseases. Most hospitals provide disease and infection prevention and control programs to train all healthcare staff on how to protect themselves and the patients against diseases.

Most PCAs work full-time through the week while others work shifts. Some facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes may require them to work during the weekends and at night.

What Does a Patient Care Assistant Do?

There are a variety of tasks PCAs are responsible for performing, such as monitoring patients’ health and improvements, improving the quality of patients’ care, and assisting healthcare professionals to perform daily tasks.

The duties of a PCA include;

  • Bathing and dressing patients who have problems with standing and making sure that these are done appropriately and at the right time.
  • They also help them when they need to use the toilet and clean them. Sometimes they might need to hold the patients to the toilet seats when they cannot.

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  • PCAs also help patients who have problems with walking to move around, adjust their laying and sitting positions and transfer them from wheelchairs to beds or vice versa.
  • They serve their meals and help them to eat by feeding them when necessary.
  • They are responsible for measuring the vitals of the patients such as blood pressure, temperature, and pulse.
  • They keep a record of patients’ health challenges, their progress, and reporting to the professional supervisors.
  • In some hospitals, patient care assistants are allowed to dispense medication. This however depends on the state and the level of qualification of the PCA.

How to Become a Patient Care Assistant.

Individuals who are interested in pursuing a career as a PCA are required to complete an approved educational program. They are required to complete programs in high schools, colleges, or healthcare organizations and must pass a state exam and obtain a license or certification in their state.

The first step is to complete a high school or obtain a GED. Although high school courses may not directly relate to healthcare, they provide the basics of science, communication and, other skills which are important to the job.

The next step is to acquire a degree in a healthcare-related field such as General Studies in Healthcare, or Healthcare Management. Although a four-year degree is not a requirement to become a patient care assistant, a bachelor’s degree may give you better job prospects and higher chances to get employed.

With a Bachelor’s degree, PCAs may have better opportunities to pursue careers in nursing or midwifery if they wish to become more professional in the healthcare field. 

Although most employers only require that you have a patient care assistant resume, which shows your educational background and level of experience, some will require that applicants undergo some training on the job for a few weeks after they have been hired.

If you have already started work as a patient care assistant and you wish to advance in the field, you can enrol in a degree online or attend school part-time and study more professional courses.

A degree is also an advantage when it comes to preparing for states certification exams because it gives them an in-depth knowledge of the field.

PCAs should earn certifications and licensures such as the Certified Medication Assistant credential which allows them to perform more responsibilities like dispensing medication. Certifications can also allow you to earn a better salary than other PCAs at your level. Certifications and requirements vary according to the state of where you are working.

Skills of a Good Patient Care Assistant.

As a PCA, you need to develop various personal and work skills to enable you to carry out your duties efficiently. Examples of such skills are;

Patience and Tolerance.

Cleaning, moving, feeding, bathing, and dressing patients can be quite tasking. Sometimes, patients can be rude, stubborn, and deliberately difficult. You will need to be patient and calm in situations like these and on tiring days to maintain professionalism.


The job requires working with sick people and people who are in pain or have lost their abilities to go about their daily lives, being compassionate towards such people will help you offer the best care and service to them.

Physical Strength.

As a PCA, part of your responsibilities is to help patients stand or move around, sometimes lifting them from their beds or wheelchairs. You must have the physical strength to do all these. It is good for you to eat well, exercise often, and maintain good health.


PCAs should have an understanding of the patients’ health condition to enable them to know the kind of care they need. They should also stay updated about improvements of the patients.

Courteousness and Friendliness.

It is important to be polite and nice when relating with the patients or their loved ones. This can help them feel better and hopeful and aside from being professional, it makes you a better person. It can also give you a sense of fulfillment of being a positive part of their lives.

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Communication and Interpretation.

As a PCA, you must listen to the patients’ problems, understand them and report them well to the medical professional. The medical staff may also give you instructions on treatment and other duties that affect the patients. Thus, you must develop excellent communication and interpretational skills, such as active listening, written and verbal communication skills, etc to avoid mistakes.


You should also develop a third eye, that is paying attention to the tiniest details. This will help you detect when something is wrong with a patient to tackle it in good time.


Multitasking as a PCA, you might need to perform different duties at the same time. You need to develop the ability to be swift and careful at the same time.

Patient Care Assistant Salary.

As of 2019, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the median salary PCAs earned per year was $29,660. The salaries however vary based on factors, such as experience and level of education. Employers and places of work can also affect the level of salary.

PCAs that work in hospitals or government healthcare facilities earned a median salary of $31,000 to $36,000 annually, while those who work in retirement homes or nursing homes earned a median salary of between $28,000 to $30,000 per year.


Patient care is a noble profession because it allows you to offer service to humanity and impact lives directly or indirectly. Don’t forget to share and kindly use the comment section below if you have any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Care Assistants.

Where can I find patient care assistant jobs?

Patient Care Assistant jobs can be found in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, disability facilities, and other healthcare centers.

What does a patient care assistant do?

Patient care aides work with patients under the direct supervision of health care professionals, such as doctors or nurses. However, they assist patients with daily activities including feeding, bathing, dressing, grooming, mobility, changing linens, and taking medication.

What is a Patient Care Assistant?

A patient care assistant is a non-qualified nurse who provides basic health and personal care to patients in a clinical setting. They are responsible for assisting patients to carry out several basic hygiene tasks like bathing, dressing, helping them use the toilet, and feeding them.

How much does a patient care assistant make?

A PCA makes about $34,375 average salary per year.

Do I need a patient care assistant resume to work or practice?

There are no specific educational requirements for PCAs and most employers offer training on the job.

What’s the difference between PCA and CNA?

CNAs are considered to be low entry medical workers, whereas PCAs are essentially caregivers. CNA’s perform more medical-oriented tasks than PCA’s who are focused on assisting patients with comfort.

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