What are your views on an RN working as a patient care tech?

By | 2021-05-07T16:33:03-04:00 July 14th, 2015|6 Comments
Dear Donna,

I had to resign due to family illness and gave my employer 24-hour notice. I had held a staff nurse position with that particular organization for more than four years, and had always had a good rapport with staff and management. I also have been my parents’ sole caregiver for the past eight years. I left my work in haste as I was emotionally and physically falling apart. My previous employer has designated me “not for rehire.”

What are my chances of being employed elsewhere? I have decided to work as a patient care tech in a hospital as I cannot take the responsibilities of being an RN. My BON stated that’s OK as long as I have a certified nurses aide licensure. What are your views?

RN Who Wants to Work as a CNA

Dear RN Who Wants to Work as a CNA,

Working as a PCT or CNA while an RN because you cannot take the responsibilities of an RN is not advisable. For starters, some employers will not hire you as a patient care tech or certified nurses aide because you are an RN. There are potential liability issues to both you and the employer. In the event a problem arose, you would be held responsible and liable to your higher license regardless of the position you hold. You also will have to continuously explain why you are working as a PCT or CNA when you are a licensed RN and that will get awkward.

Many of us need a break from direct patient care during our careers for a variety of reasons. I’ve been there myself. I’d rather see you take one of the myriad positions for RNs where you do not have direct patient care responsibility. Some examples would be working as an insurance nurse doing precertification or as a drug information nurse for a pharmaceutical company. Other options include doing chart review for your state quality improvement organization, working in a blood bank or doing insurance exams for a portamedic company. There are so many ways and places to use your RN knowledge and experience, not to mention your credential in a low-stress, low-key nonpatient care environment. The pay will be higher as well.

The fact you resigned from your last position, even though it was abrupt, is better than being fired even though you are listed as “not for rehire.” You can explain to a prospective employer you had to leave abruptly to care for your parents. It is a situation that is not unusual these days and hopefully someone will understand.

But having worked as a CNA for a time will not look good on your resume or bode well in an interview. It will make prospective employers suspicious and, again, require you to provide an explanation. If you provide the reason you give above, it will not work in your favor.

Since you are presumably unemployed now, I recommend you look for a volunteer nurse position while you continue to seek paid employment. Volunteer work gives you recent relevant experience to put on your resume, gives structure to your week, and helps to build confidence. In addition, volunteer work often leads to paid employment. Seek these positions through your local public health department, the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association. Volunteering is generally a good way to transition back into the workforce.

Best wishes,


Nurse.com Job Seeker

Discover how Nurse.com can help you find your next dream job.
Just sign up and wait to be paired with your perfect match.

About the Author:

Donna Cardillo
Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP, is president of DonnaCardillo.com. Known as The Inspiration Nurse, she is a keynote speaker, retreat and seminar leader, and author of "Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional" and "The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career." She brings more than 25 years of clinical, management and business experience to her role as career guru.


  1. Avatar
    Hannah August 31, 2016 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    I am foreign nurse has 6 yrs experience in my country and not worked in US for 10 yrs but I have my nursing license active .
    I am trying to get back to work, but they are asking me to take job as patient care technician .
    No idea about that position , will it help me in transition to RN after some experience?
    Kindly advice me on this job .

    • Sallie Jimenez
      Sallie Jimenez September 22, 2016 at 3:38 pm - Reply

      Hello Hannah,
      Here is a link to information on PCTs: http://www.nhanow.com/certifications/patient-care-technician
      You also may want to consider discussing the position with the hiring manager to learn more about the job requirements and if it will be possible to transition to an RN position in the future.
      Best wishes,
      Nurse.com content team

  2. Avatar
    Crystal Marcelle RN December 1, 2017 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    You should try homecare or long-term care instead of working as a CNA. If anything were to happen under your care, you will be held as an RN even though the job is a CNA. A CNA’s job is demanding as well. With homecare you can just focus on one patient and it is less stressful. Plus it looks great on your resume.

  3. Avatar
    Becky April 21, 2018 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    Hello. I am a RN with 8 yrs post surgical/trauma experience. My license is not active at this time but it will be with in a year. I have taken then last 2 yrs off to focus on my 2 children and also my own health. I have always wanted to work as an OR nurse. I am concerned that because of my lapse, I will have difficulty attaining that goal. I had thought about working (and receiving training if needed) as a surgical tech for a few years. It seems that would be a way to eventually transition into an OR nurse role when I am ready to take that on. The concern I have is whether or not it makes sense and would I even be able to work below my RN license? Thank you in advance for your feedback.

  4. Avatar
    Tony April 28, 2020 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Hi. My name is tony. I have been a pct for my current employer for 15 years. 2 months ago, i hot my RN license but im still working as a PCT. We did not come up with an agreement regarding the RN position they offered so for the meantime, i am a licensed registered nurse working as a PCT. legally, is this allowed? Am i supposed to ask for a pay increase or any legal point advise? Thank you.

  5. Avatar
    Lee August 3, 2020 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Volunteering does not pay bills. I would rather work as an aide or tech, even with an RN license and get paid

Leave A Comment