Patient Care Technician Certification: Get Students Ready Blog Feature
Sarah Layton

By: Sarah Layton on May 4th, 2015

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Patient Care Technician Certification: Get Students Ready

Health Science | Patient Care Technician

If you are responsible for preparing students for patient care technician certification, what would you ask a PCT education expert? There is a constant need to have students prepared for post-secondary or industry certifications coming from CTE health science programs. More and more of our customers have been asking about the best way to increase student success in the patient care technician certification.

As curriculum developers that have worked with literally thousands of teachers and schools, we are passionate about helping teachers have success with their students. we had an opportunity to talk to Lynne Clarke from A. R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet in Augusta, GA, about patient care technician certification, education, and employment. Clarke has a proven track record with preparing students for the patient care technician certification exams and for preparing students for a future in the health care industry. As a National Health Science Educators Consortium Master Teacher, Clarke also has put together some useful information about getting a patient care technician program started.

Patient care technician certification prep

Clarke emphasizes “a really good ground base of knowledge and then a lot of test taking, and critical thinking skills, emphasizing vocabulary.” She uses a program on her iPad called Zip Grade. Students raise their hand when they're finished with a test. Then Clarke’s iPad scans the test, grades it, and then they go over it, “talking at length about right answers, why the right answer is right, why the wrong answer is wrong.”

Our tool, HealthCenter21, gives her students another viewpoint of the material. Clarke explained that it is, “one more way to review for the material, to go through and look at the material at their own pace. It's another avenue for them to go through the material, another way besides flashcards, besides a book, besides listening to me talk, it's a tool in my big resource basket for the students.”

She also uses some of the modules when a substitute is in the classroom “because it's very easy for me to monitor students’ time on tasks.”

What students can expect from a PCT certificate and certification

When we asked Clarke about career prospects for students having a patient care technician certification, she had some great insight.

Clarke’s opinion is that in Georgia, very few students with PCT certification intend that as their “terminal job focus.” Clarke does have “a few students who have stopped at the PCT level for various family, economic reasons, etc., but the bulk of them use PCT certification as a stepping stone to figure out their next move.”

And so, students use patient care technician certification to make themselves a better candidate to work their way through further schooling and training. And this is a wise move, as Clarke shared, “Many, many post-secondary clinical based programs require students to have some hands-on bedside experience. With all the new HIPAA laws, it's virtually impossible to get that unless you're in school.” You cannot simply walk in off the street and get volunteer time in today’s medical facilities.

Clarke stressed that, “students think they're going to breeze right through and go to a four-year school and get out. Life doesn't always work that way, so they need a back-up plan.” Good advice!

Challenges in finding a PCT certification study guide and textbook

For Clarke, one of the biggest and somewhat surprising challenges with teaching PCT curriculum has been the lack of a relevant textbook and good resources. There simply isn’t a textbook in existence.

To cover the material with textbooks alone, you’d need about four of them. “I don't know any school that can afford four books for one course. Plus all of those books go far beyond the content needed for PCT. There's not a good text book…I've begged, borrowed, stolen resources from lots of different places to limp through this,” she explained.

patient care technician certificationThat being said, Clarke’s done very well. Understatement there. The first year she taught, her students had a 95% pass rate on the NHA exam. Last year her students had an amazing 100% pass rate on the phlebotomy, EKG, and PCT test. And that’s nothing to take lightly. Clarke’s students are performing 17% better than the national average for the NHA test.

Another great place to find information about patient care technician certification is the NCHSE and NHA.

And here's the full case study with Lynne Clarke.

If you’d like to contact Lynne Clarke, she’d love to hear from you: and

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About Sarah Layton

Sarah is a contributing author to the AES blog. She is committed to helping instructors and students succeed both in and out of the classroom.