Can an RN work as a patient-care technician or nursing assistant?

By | 2022-02-14T17:42:38-05:00 January 12th, 2011|0 Comments


Dear Nancy,

I can’t find a job in a hospital as an RN. I see openings for patient-care technicians and nursing assistants. Can I work in these positions if offered even though I am an RN with a BSN?


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Vince,

It is a little strange that you are unable to find work in a hospital setting as an RN. Although some job markets in healthcare are not hiring RNs, it might be you are restricting yourself to a certain unit (e.g., med/surg) in which there are no openings or are seeking a position in which you have no previous experience.

It would be important for you to think out of the box and apply for nursing positions that have a component of what you are interested in doing, but might not be in a hospital setting. As examples, have you tried home healthcare? Have you tried school nursing? Have you applied for case management or triage positions with an insurance company?

With the education you have, it would be difficult for you to function in the role of a patient-care tech or nursing assistant. How would you selectively inattend to your nursing education and professional critical thinking when confronted with a patient for whom an assessment needs to be made, for example? As you know, patient care techs and nursing assistants function under the direction of an RN or other licensed healthcare provider. These assistants are helpful to the nursing team, but their responsibilities are limited.

Another thing to consider is that if there were a patient injury or death of a patient you were caring for as a patient-care tech or nursing assistant, and the allegations against you were that you were negligent in some way in the care of the patient, the standard of care that would be applied to you would be that of an RN and not of a patient-care tech or nursing assistant.

Although having a job is an important issue, one should carefully analyze whether taking a position that raises more concerns than it resolves is the best solution.



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