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Patient Care Technician vs Surgical Technician

Patient Care Technician vs Surgical Technician

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Key Points:

  • Patient Care Technicians provide basic patient care; Surgical Technicians assist surgeons during operations.
  • Patient Care Technicians typically earn less than Surgical Technicians.
  • Both roles are in demand, but Surgical Technician jobs may be more competitive.
  • Both may require in-person training, but Surgical Technician programs are often more intensive.
  • Patient Care Technician training is generally shorter and less expensive than Surgical Technician training.

In the medical field, there are a variety of careers that can be pursued to make a difference in the lives of patients. Two such careers are patient care technician and surgical technician. While both professions involve direct patient care, there are some key differences between the two. In this blog post, we will explore the roles and responsibilities of patient care technicians and surgical technicians, as well as the educational requirements and career outlook for each.

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What is a Patient Care Technician and Surgical Technician?

Patient Care Technician:

  • Patient care technicians, also known as nursing assistants or nurse aides, are responsible for providing basic care to patients in various healthcare settings.
  • They perform tasks such as bathing and dressing patients, taking vital signs, and assisting with activities of daily living.
  • Patient care technicians may also be responsible for monitoring patients' conditions, reporting any changes to healthcare providers, and assisting with medical procedures under the supervision of a nurse or physician.

Surgical Technician:

  • Surgical technicians, also known as surgical technologists, work in operating rooms alongside surgeons and other surgical team members.
  • They are responsible for preparing the operating room, sterilizing equipment, and ensuring that all necessary supplies are available.
  • During surgical procedures, surgical technicians assist the surgeon by passing instruments and supplies, maintaining a sterile field, and anticipating the needs of the surgical team.

Difference Between a Patient Care Technician and a Surgical Technician

While both patient care technicians and surgical technicians provide direct patient care, there are some key differences between the two roles:

  • Job Duties: Patient care technicians are primarily responsible for providing basic care to patients, such as bathing, dressing, and assisting with activities of daily living. Surgical technicians, on the other hand, focus specifically on assisting with surgical procedures in the operating room.
  • Work Environment: Patient care technicians can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home healthcare agencies. Surgical technicians primarily work in operating rooms and surgical centers.
  • Supervision: Patient care technicians typically work under the supervision of a nurse, while surgical technicians work closely with surgeons and other members of the surgical team.
  • Specialized Skills: While both roles require a certain level of medical knowledge and technical skills, surgical technicians must have a more specialized skill set related to surgical procedures and sterile techniques.

Patient Care Technician vs Surgical Technician: Job Description

Patient Care Technician:

  • As a patient care technician, you will be responsible for providing basic care to patients, including bathing, dressing, and assisting with activities of daily living.
  • You will also be responsible for taking vital signs, monitoring patients' conditions, and reporting any changes to healthcare providers.
  • Patient care technicians may also assist with medical procedures, such as drawing blood or inserting catheters, under the supervision of a nurse or physician.
  • In addition to direct patient care, patient care technicians may also be responsible for maintaining patient records and ensuring that patient rooms are clean and well-stocked.

Surgical Technician:

  • As a surgical technician, your primary role will be to assist surgeons and other members of the surgical team during surgical procedures.
  • You will be responsible for preparing the operating room, sterilizing equipment, and ensuring that all necessary supplies are available.
  • During surgery, you will assist the surgeon by passing instruments and supplies, maintaining a sterile field, and anticipating the needs of the surgical team.
  • Surgical technicians may also be responsible for preparing patients for surgery, including positioning them on the operating table and covering them with sterile drapes.

Patient Care Technician vs Surgical Technician: Education and Training

Patient Care Technician:

  • To become a patient care technician, you will typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Many healthcare facilities offer on-the-job training for patient care technicians, which may include a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on experience.
  • Some states may also require patient care technicians to complete a certification program and pass a competency exam.

Surgical Technician:

  • To become a surgical technician, you will need to complete a postsecondary education program in surgical technology.
  • These programs are typically offered by community colleges and vocational schools and can range in length from several months to two years.
  • Upon completion of a surgical technology program, you may be eligible to sit for a certification exam, such as the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam.

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Patient Care Technician vs Surgical Technician: Career Outlook and Salary

Patient Care Technician:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of patient care technicians is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • The median annual wage for patient care technicians was $31,220 in May 2020, according to the BLS.

Surgical Technician:

  • Employment of surgical technicians is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the BLS.
  • The median annual wage for surgical technologists was $49,710 in May 2020, according to the BLS.

Final Thoughts

Both patient care technicians and surgical technicians play integral roles in the healthcare industry. While patient care technicians focus on providing basic care to patients in various healthcare settings, surgical technicians specialize in assisting with surgical procedures in the operating room. The educational requirements and career outlook for each profession differ slightly, but both offer opportunities for individuals to make a meaningful impact on the lives of patients. Whether you choose to pursue a career as a patient care technician or surgical technician, you can be confident that you are entering a field that is in high demand and offers competitive wages.

Discover Dreambound's program accessibility across various locations. For detailed insights into the two vocations, their requirements, and joining procedures, explore the following blogs:

Sunshine Tupan
Written by
Sunshine Tupan

Sunshine is a member of the School Growth team at Dreambound, where she assists students and schools with their billing and onboarding needs. She is a licensed mechanical engineer. Outside of work, she enjoys road trips with her family, discovering cozy cafes, and exploring her love for art.

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