Similarities and Differences Between LVN and PCT

Patient Care Technician and Licensed Practical Nurse, both the professionals are known for providing basic health care to the patients. Since most of their job responsibilities are similar; many people think that they are the same. A lot of factors such as education, the scope of practice, and licensing make both the professions different. To know what they individually are, how are they alike and what makes both the nurses disparate, go through this article.

Patient Care Technician

Patient Care Technicians serve the meals, change the bedding and dressings, take vital signs, and assist patients in using the restroom. They work under the supervision of the LPNs or registered nurses.

Licensed Practical Nurses

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) are also known as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) in some states of the US. These healthcare professionals undertake the responsibility of the comfort of the patients and perform various tasks such as giving injections to the patients, collecting samples, examining the results of the prescribed medications, etc. They work under the guidance of the registered nurses or physicians.

Difference Between LVN/LPN and PCT

1. Job Responsibilities

Tasks done by both the nurses are almost similar; the difference is only that the work of a PCT is supervised by an LPN, whereas a practical nurse practice under the guidance of an RN or physician.
Job duties of the Patient Care Technician include-

  • Delivering the food trays and feeding the patients if required
  • Assisting the patients in walking and shifting from one place to another
  • Helping the patients with day to day activities like grooming, personal hygiene, using the restroom, etc.
  • Taking samples of the blood, fluids, and other specimens
  • Providing emotional support to the patients and their family
  • Monitoring the health of the patients and measuring the vital signs

Job Responsibilities of Licensed Practical Nurse comprise-

  • Administering the medicines to the patients
  • Keeping a medical record of the patients
  • Evaluating the mental health of the patients and giving emotional support
  • Entering data into the computer system
  • Moving the patients from one place to another with care
  • Answering the patients’ queries over the phone
  • Recording the vital signs and assembling the equipment such as gastrostomy tubes, oxygen supply, catheter, etc.
  • Educating the patients and their families

2. Education

  • PCT – The nursing aspirants who want to make a career as a Patient Care Technician need to complete an education program accredited by the state board in which they are taught the basic skills. Depending upon the requirements of the state, the training program may last for 8 weeks to 1 year.
  • LPN – In order to practice as a Licensed Practical Nurse in any clinical setting, candidates need to complete an approved educational program. These programs complete in 12 to 18 months and award a diploma, degree, or certificate.

3. License Requirements

  • PCT – After the completion of the state-approved educational program, candidates who want to practice as a legal PCT in any clinical setting need to gain a general certification from the state board. They need to possess a certificate in first aid, electrocardiography, phlebotomy, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if they have to perform some advanced duties. Also, some states ask for the license if these professionals work with the patients who are undergoing the dialysis treatment.
  • LPN – Licensed Practical Nurses can apply for the NCLEX-PN exam soon after completing their approved educational program. Individuals will be able to obtain a license only after passing this examination. Licensure is the proof of the advanced level of knowledge of the nurses.


4. Salary

  • PCT – According to the data provided by indeed.com, the salary of the Patient Care Technicians was $37,723 per year and $12.64 per hour (as of January 29, 2017). As per the information of payscale.com, these professionals earned $10.06 – $17.05 per hour (as of October 28, 2016).
  • LPN – As per the data of indeed.com, the income of the LPNs/LVNs was $36,624 per annum and $20.27 per hour, respectively (as of January 28, 2017). According to payscale.com, as of October 28, 2016, Licensed Practical Nurses were paid $14.97-$24.61 per hour.

5. Job Growth

Job opportunities are vast for the nurses. As per the report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings for the Practical Nurses are said to increase by 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, whereas for the Patient Care Technicians, this rate is 18% for the same duration. PCTs can plan to become an LPN and LPNs can aim to work as a Registered Nurse.

6. Skills

Since both the professionals are related to nursing, most of the skills required to carry out their work are similar. Following are the qualities that both LPNs and PCTs must have in order to work efficiently-

  • Time Management Skills – Both LPNs and PCTs need to serve many patients at the same time. Thus, they should be smart enough to manage their time.
  • Decision-Making Skills – Nurses are supposed to take certain decisions in the case of emergency. Thus, they should be mentally strong and must have good decision power.
  • Communication Skills – Everyday, nurses come across many people of diverse culture, nature, and age. They also need to interact with their seniors, doctors, patients, and colleagues. Therefore, excellent communication is one of the most important qualities that they must have.
  • Clinical Skills – Nursing professionals must have clinical competence. It is only due to this ability they can effectively and actively participate in a wide range of practices that are undertaken to treat the patients in the best way.

Other than the traits mentioned above, Licensed Practical Nurses must also possess the following skills:

  • Supervisory Skills – Practical Nurses need to guide Nursing Assistants and Patient Care Technicians. In order to supervise these nurses efficiently, LPNs ought to have good supervisory skills.
  • Computer Skills – In today’s world, almost nothing can be done without computers. In hospitals, patients’ records and other reports are maintained in computers, and this responsibility is undertaken by the Practical Nurses. Thus, these professionals must have good computer skills.