As I’ve mentioned before I was a PCA, patient care associate, at the hospital I ended up getting hired as an RN for a little over a year. I had this job while in nursing school and let me tell you it was the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s tough work being a PCA but it is also so rewarding. Here’s a few reasons why I think you should be a PCA before becoming an RN.
- It helps you gain confidence: I am an extremely shy person. I don’t like talking to people I don’t know that much. As a nurse, that’s obviously your main job. You talk to patients, families, doctors..the list goes on and on. By being a PCA before I became an RN I was able to work on developing the confidence that I needed to talk to patients and families. Now I can walk into a patient’s room or talk on the phone with the MD (granted that’s still petrifying) and feel more at ease with it.
- You learn basic skills: They teach them in nursing school but for me it was a quick class where they taught you how to change an occupied bed and the importance of using assistive mobility devices. It wasn’t until I was working in a hospital and had to do q2 hour turns, clean up incontinent patients, and walk a post-op patient in the hallway that I really gained the skills that not only PCAs but RNs need as well. Trust me, being an RN doesn’t mean you’re above cleaning up a patient. Everyone works as a team and being more comfortable with these skills that we take for granted is a lifesaver.
- Gives you a new appreciation for the PCAs you’re going to be working with: I never realized just how hard PCAs work on a daily basis. Yes, RNs have a lot going on with their 4-5 patient assignment but PCAs have sometimes 10-15 patients. Everyone works as a team. No job is more important, everyone has the same goal..keep the patient safe, comfortable, and help them get better. After being a PCA for a year I’m more than okay taking a set of vitals if I’m going into a patient’s room instead of asking the PCA who has to take vitals on 9 other patients.
So to answer the question should you be a PCA before an RN, I would say absolutely. It’s a different world working in a hospital. Everyone works hard, everyone puts in the time and hours, and everyone is a team. Bottom line..appreciate your PCAs, they’re going to be the ones who have your back when your confused patient is throwing feces around the room.