Psychiatric Technician Job Description, Career as a Psychiatric Technician, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job
Training/Educational Requirements: Associate degree
Median Salary: $28,380 per year
Job Prospects: Good
A psychiatric technician provides care for the mentally ill or challenged. These techs often work as part of a medical team in a psychiatric facility, and their role is one of primary and fundamental care, often for those who are unable to provide this for themselves. All of the responsibilities of a psychiatric technician are centered around and focused on patient care, often at its most basic level.
One of the biggest distinctions of this role is that psychiatric technicians may administer medication and injections to patients. This is one of the main reasons that a psychiatric technician must receive an associate degree and appropriate training courses. Under doctor’s orders and working as part of a team, psychiatric technicians provide patients with medication in a variety of different ways. This makes psychiatric technicians a well-rounded medical tech and sets them apart from their counterparts in other fields.
Along with medication administration, psychiatric technicians assist with patient personal hygiene, including helping patients to bathe, use the bathroom, and getting to or moving in their bed. The patients that are in these psychiatric facilities are usually mentally challenged or have some other non-temporary mental issue, and therefore they require somebody to care for them. Psychiatric technicians must have the ability to deal with a variety of personalities and sometimes stressful situations that may arise out of the patient’s specific challenge.
Though mental issues vary by patient, all psychiatric technicians must be able to provide any care that is required. In addition to providing general patient care, these specialized techs may play an integral part of patient group therapy. Additionally, they may be involved in the administration process and may interact on a regular basis with the patient’s family in providing status updates. Psychiatric technicians are trained to monitor a patient’s condition by taking blood pressure readings and pulse, and they may be called on to handle this as part of a team.
Though this position only requires an associate degree, that degree does need to be specialized. Through the training courses specific for a psychiatric technician, these techs are introduced to psychology so that they are prepared for the types of patients and illnesses that they will likely deal with. Another important factor in the training for this role is an introduction to pharmacology. Because a big part of this role is the ability to properly administer medication, learning about that is an integral part of the training. Psychiatric technicians learn how to properly administer medications, how to understand dosage, and what it takes to handle the particular drug needs of the mentally ill.
Though additional training isn’t required once a psychiatric tech has a degree, on-the-job training or other hands-on experience can be great teachers for psychiatric technicians. Depending on the state in which a psychiatric technician works, she or he may be required to hold a license.
How to Get Hired
The best way to get hired into the role of psychiatric technician is to complete the proper training and education and to gain experience. There is no room for error in the administration of medication, and a potential employer will demand a psychiatric tech’s demonstrated proficiency in this. Though psychiatric technician is an entry-level role into a psychiatric facility, those medical professionals who choose to make it a career will find that growing their experience will help them to get hired into new positions.
Working within different environments such as a psychiatric hospital, community facility, or with a long-term care agency can help to prepare an individual to get hired. Having experience with a wide array of patients in various mental health facilities can really help psychiatric technicians to gain experience, and to ultimately get hired.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development
Because psychiatric technicians work within the health care community, the outlook for their job stability is good. There is always a need for psychiatric technicians and because this is a very involved role, it isn’t a match for everyone. This can be a great role in which to gain experience within the general medical field and can provide a springboard to further career development. There may be high turnover in this role because it can be a difficult position at times, but this opens positions for those new to the field.
Because there are a variety of environments that psychiatric technicians may work within, the job opportunities are many. There are positions available community facilities, at psychiatric hospitals, and as part of larger hospitals or other health care facilities. Because there is always a need for mental health care, there is always expected to be good growth associated with psychiatric technicians.
Though the typical working environment is a medical facility, that facility may be different than the typical. Patients with mental health care needs require a unique environment, and this may entail a high-security type of facility. Psychiatric nurses usually work with patients in their rooms, providing whatever care is required. They can expect to move from patient room to patient room, as they will often have a specific workload each day.
If psychiatric nurses are involved with group therapy as part of their responsibilities, they may work within a larger room where the patients talk together freely. If they focus some of their time on administration, psychiatric technicians may work in a private office or at a desk. They usually spend some time at a desk with the rest of their team, and then move to patient rooms as required. The environment may be difficult at times because patients with mental illness can require a great deal of attention.
Salary and Benefits
The average salary for a psychiatric technician is about $28,380, but it can range anywhere from $25,101 to $32,732, depending on a variety of factors. Though the responsibilities may be similar across the board, any unique experience can help an individual psychiatric technician to earn more. Additionally, work location can play a big factor in the salary. Psychiatric technicians can expect to receive standard benefits from their employer, including medical coverage and paid vacation.
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