What’s the difference between a PCT vs CNA?

It might be a little confusing to some as to the difference between a PCT and a CNA. Often times, it seems people use the term interchangeably. So what’s the difference?

Well, we’ve noticed a few similarities and differences in a CNA vs PCT. In fact, sometimes the results contradict themselves. Here’s several observations we’ve made about Patient Care Technicians and Certified Nursing Assistant’s. Let’s end the PCT vs CNA debate here and now:

Tip #1: CNA is a certification. PCT is a job.

Certified Nursing Assistant(or CNA) is the name given to those who have taken accredited nursing assistant classes and passed a state-issued exam. So it’s a certification that you are educated to do a job as a nursing assistant.

However, PCT(or Patient Care Technician) is always a job title. Someone who is a PCT does not necessarily have any type of education or certification. They could’ve gained their job and knowledge all from on-the-job training.

Tip #2: A CNA can be a job title, too

What confuses many is the fact that CNA’s are often job titles, too! Go ahead and browse job listings at indeed.com or simplyhired.com. You’ll find many open positions titled “Certified Nursing Assistant.” You can learn more about the job description of a CNA here.

This makes the issue confusing. However just remember. When someone says “CNA”, they’re referring to either:

  • A certification
  • A job title

Tip #3: A CNA and PCT usually have different employers

In some states, Certified Nursing Assistant is prohibited from drawing blood without a phlebotomy license. So most of the time, you will find a nursing assistant in nursing homes or long term care facilities, where blood draws aren’t as important.


Tip #5: A PCT will usually do more blood draws

Remember, Patient Care Technicians and Certified Nursing Assistants are medical assistants. So they respond to the specific medical needs of different employers.

Most nursing assistants working in a hospital are thus given the job title of “Patient Care Technician.” Why?

Because hospitals need a lot of blood draws. So, a Patient Care Technician job title is required.

May Patient Care Techs are asked to earn a phlebotomy certification in addition to a CNA because of all their blood work. But this changes with every employer. Remember, whether you are called a “PCT” or “CNA” is mostly a matter of what your employer needs.

Should I become a CNA or PCT first before becoming a Registered Nurse?

Many individuals that have worked within this area recommend that becoming a CNA first is the best option, since you will mostly be getting hands on experience and working with RN’s. For more information on how to become a CNA and enhance your chances of landing a job, click here. 

You should also make sure that you continue your education if you would like to become a registered nurse since you will most likely be able to do this while getting paid. If you continue your education, you can be making around $60 or more depending on how much actual experience you have. The longer that you work for a facility, you are able to make bonuses and have extra days for vacation. This will help you when it comes time to pay off your school loans or pay for extra training for becoming a registered nurse. There will always be stress involved so don’t worry if your first try is a little difficult.

Both a certified nurses assistant and a patient care technician will help performing basic patient care tasks while under the supervision of a medical doctor or a registered nurse. These tasks include many different things that have to do with the patients care. Patient care technicians and certified nurses assistants also assist doctors, nurses as well as other professionals of health care. They perform many of the same tasks and are often asked to work together doing the tasks. They are both very rewarding positions and if you would like to become an RN, you will most likely want to become a CNA to start.

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