A patient care assistant is a person who works under the supervision of a physician or nurse. As the name implies, an individual in this position provides care and treatment for patients in a hospital or healthcare facility. Being successful in this career usually requires someone with excellent interpersonal skills, solid organizational habits and an empathetic nature. In general, it takes a certificate in patient care from a vocational school to get into this field. Some common responsibilities of a patient care assistant include monitoring the status of patients, assisting patients with eating, assisting with hygiene, transporting patients and maintaining supplies.
Routinely monitoring the status of patients is a large part of this job. Basically, a patient care assistant is responsible for taking a patient's vital signs, making sure a patient is comfortable and observing behavior. If a patient is experiencing pain or other medical complications, the assistant will report it to a doctor or nurse. In most cases, she will also need to document each patient's status by filling out reports. Due to the high degree of social interaction, it's important for a patient care assistant to get to know each patient and establish rapport.
Another aspect of this job is assisting patients with eating meals. When a patient is incapable of feeding himself, it's up to a patient care assistant to help with the process. If a patient has dietary restrictions, it's also up to the assistant to ensure that each meal complies with those restrictions. For example, if a patient is limited to a soft food diet, she would make sure that solid foods are pureed.
Along with this, a patient care assistant will often be required to assist with a patient's hygiene. This typically includes helping him put on clothing, brushing teeth, grooming and bathing. Besides this, she may clean a patient's room, keep it organized and ensure sanitation.
Transporting patients from one department to another is also a necessity. Since some medical facilities are large, a patient care assistant may need to transport a patient via wheelchair from his room to another area such as a surgery room. If a patient is being discharged, she might need to move him to the lobby to be picked up by family members.
In addition, it's often the responsibility of a patient care assistant to maintain supplies. For example, she might need to monitor a storage area and do inventory counts on items like syringes, rubber gloves and bandages. When items are running low, she must either report to a supervisor or order new supplies herself.