In 2019, a couple of issues related to the nursing profession in Florida made for interesting news headlines. The first one was reported by a Lakeland ABC affiliate, and it dealt with the ongoing suspension of state healthcare licenses over school loan defaults; quite a few of the professionals affected by this measure, which is supported by Florida laws and regulations, are registered nurses. The other news item was actually reported by a publication based in Toronto, which announced healthcare job positions opening in Winter Garden.
There are two important things to consider when evaluating the aforementioned news stories:
First of all, it is heartbreaking to learn that Florida nurses would be at risk of losing their licenses because of late student loan payments, but it is also a reminder of the exorbitant tuition fees demanded by these programs.
Second, it is reassuring to learn that demand for nurses and other healthcare workers in the Sunshine State is so high that local employers will post job positions on Canadian publications.
Becoming a registered nurse in Florida is an educational pursuit that takes time, dedication and money. Florida National University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program as well as a Master of Science in Nursing graduate degree, but there is another career path for prospective students to consider, one that allows you to test the waters of the nursing industry at an affordable cost while still earning a quality education from an accredited university.
What Is A Patient Care Technician and What Do They Do
Over the last few decades, the scope of the nursing profession has broadened considerably. The Florida Legislature is expected to debate the issue of nurse practitioners this year; if approved, these advanced professionals would be allowed to work with a certain level of independence that is intended to alleviate the ongoing shortage of physicians. As nurses become more specialized, many of them will take on roles that will reduce their direct patient contact duties, and this is when patient care technicians come in.
A patient care technician sometimes referred to as a nursing assistant, is a healthcare professional whose focus is on direct patient contact. These professionals work with patients, and they may be under the supervision of nurses or physicians. They have a responsibility to care for patients, and their duties may include:
- Vouching for the safety and comfort of patients
- Managing meal intake and proper hydration
- Monitoring vital signs
- Ensuring that the beds and resting quarters of patients are clean, neat, and disinfected
- Checking glucose levels
- Observing changes in health conditions
- Assisting patients with hygiene and bodily functions
- Providing information and support to patients and their loved ones
- Assisting with lifesaving procedures in case of an emergency
Patient care technicians are at the front lines of actually caring for people who need medical treatment. In some cases, these healthcare professionals help patients with treatments that are crucial in terms of keeping them alive; for example, helping individuals whose kidney functions have diminished to the point of needing dialysis.
FNU’s Patient Care Technician Program
In essence, your enrollment in the Patient Care Technician Program at FNU will be pursuant to obtain a certificate of higher education. This is not a college degree program, but it will prepare you for the fundamentals of patient care. You will have the skills to seek employment in a nursing home, a clinic, a home health agency, or even a major healthcare system.
What the Program Offers
In this career path, you will earn a certificate upon completion of a curriculum that will teach you a wide range of technical skills related to patient care. You can expect to be taught under the guidance of a staff of highly trained instructors who bring real-life experience into the classroom. There is plenty of hands-on instruction in this program; the idea is for you to gain a better understanding of what to expect in the healthcare field as well as what would be expected of you as a professional who works in direct contact with patients.
Your practical instruction in this program will last 120 hours and will count towards four out of 20 credit hours. Some of the courses you will complete, including anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and geriatric care, are the same that nurses and other healthcare professionals must complete in their respective curricula. The seminars you will attend will deal with topics such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation and prevention of HIV infections. Some of the courses can be completed online.
Since FNU serves the South Florida region, there are certain socioeconomic aspects that this program takes into consideration:
South Florida is a large metropolitan area and a melting pot of cultures, ethnic groups, and nationalities. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that 2.8 percent of the immigrant population of the United States has ties to Cuba, and most of these individuals live in Miami, a city that is widely considered to be the international capital of Latin America and the Caribbean. Students who graduate from the FNU patient care technician program are bound to work with Latino and Caribbean patients who enjoy the idea of being cared for by one of their own.
In the spirit of diversity, the patient care technician program offered by FNU is taught in a bilingual modality, giving students access to our English as a Second Language Lab, which includes interactive courses. While this program does not teach Spanish, English-speaking students will still be able to benefit from immersing themselves in a bilingual speaking environment just as a Spanish-speaking student would. For more information on this bilingual modality, contact one of our counselors today; they will be able to help you in English or Spanish.
In December 2019, the candidates for the Mayoral post of Miami attended a special forum on the topic of the needs of our elderly population, which is getting more numerous each day. Greater access to public healthcare resources for the elderly was discussed, and the possibility of new taxation in this regard was brought up during the conference. There is a strong chance that many of the people you may care for after getting your Patient Care Technician certificate from FNU will be older. Given the respect and affection that Latin American and Caribbean communities have for the elderly, you can certainly expect to work with senior citizens in need of medical care.
Hands-On Clinical Practice
Depending on the career path you choose, you may be assigned to inpatient nursing units within hospitals, geriatric care centers, pediatric wards, emergency rooms, cardiology offices, outpatient clinics, and many other settings.
To complete this eight-month program, a minimum of 20 credit hours are required as well as 20 hours of seminar credit hours in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and HIV/AIDS prevention. Students will also need to complete 120 hours of clinical hours. These clinical hours will give you the practice you need to properly treat and care for patients. This clinical practice is mandatory and is one of the highlights of the program.
Patient Care Technician Salary and Job Outlook
From now until the year 2026, demand for patient care technicians is expected to grow at a pace that is faster than all other American jobs. If you work at state or federal government healthcare facilities, you can expect annual salaries of around $32,860. As of May 2017, median wages for nursing assistants was around $27,520 per year.
As previously mentioned, the aging population of South Florida suggests job security for patient care technicians. Keep in mind that you can increase your earnings potential with continuing education and by pursuing certificates in other fields such as radiology, phlebotomy, and electrocardiography, which are all within reach of patient care technicians.
At FNU, you do not have to worry about heavy school loan debts that may threaten your healthcare licensing in the future. Tuition for the patient care technician program is very reasonable, and you can always apply for financial aid. If you complete the program in eight months, you will be well on your way to earning a nice salary in a field where job openings can always be found, and your debt burden will never be as high as that of registered nurses.
Many of the instructors for this program also teach FNU nursing courses, and this means that they operate under the accreditation of the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the licensing of The Florida Board of Nursing. Learn more about our program by contacting a counselor today, or come visit our campus locations in Hialeah and Miami.