Knowing The Departments (wards) in a Hospital | Applying to the Right Job as a PCT | NEIH

Updated: Mar 19


Know Your Hospital Departments to Pick the Most Compatible One For You

If you finished a training program for Patient Care Technician and you want to apply to jobs, you should consider all departments the hospital has to offer. It is important to consider the stress level you think you will be able to handle and the type of worker you are when applying to jobs. Not having knowledge of the hospital departments can put you in an unexpected situation.

Important Things to Remember When Applying for Jobs


  • Not all hospital departments will have you do the same type of work

  • Some departments will be organized differently from other departments in the hospital, and other healthcare facilities entirely

  • Your duties and requirements may vary depending on the hospital or healthcare facility

  • Some departments may utilize your entire skillset, while other departments have you focus on one particular skill

  • The pay compensation and schedule may vary depending on the department

  • Expectations for each department may vary

  • Some departments may have a particular type of patient to treat ( i.e. Maternity, Pyschartic, and Neonatal) with a defined treatment plan or illness, while other departments may have patients of all types.

Emergency Department (ER or ED)

The Emergency Room or Ward is the most well-known department in a hospital. You will see nearly all types of patients with many types of illnesses. Healthcare Staff in the Emergency Department can expect a fast pace work environment with a high patient turn over rate. During a shift in the emergency room, you can expect to trait a high number of different patients throughout the day and do varies procedures. This department will have you do a little bit of everything in your scope of practice.

Common Duties of a Patient Care Technician in the Emergency Room May Include

  • Blood Draws

  • EKG's

  • Patient Transfers

  • Patient Monitoring

Renal / Dialysis Department (Nephrology)

Patients in Nephrology will have a condition that affects the kidney's function. Kidneys are very important to overall health as they filter the blood. Patients in this unit may undergo dialysis which is a treatment that filters the blood through machines because the kidneys are not in a condition to filter the blood themselves.

Common Duties of a Patient Care Technician in a Renal Unit may include:

  • Obtaining and monitoring patient vital signs and machines

  • Prepare patients and equipment for treatment

  • Stocking and track inventory

  • Insert and Remove access needles for treatment

Surgical Unit (OR / PACU)

The OR means the operating room and PACU mean the post-anesthesia unit. The patient will have surgery done in the OR and then be taken to PACU while the anesthesia wears off and for the patient to be closely monitored. These units will have a heavy focus on basic patient care skills while still utilizing some skills of phlebotomy and EKG. Patient Care Technicians can often prep a patient for surgery and perform patient care procedures and tests post-surgery.

Common Duties of a Patient Care Technician in a Surgical Unit may include:

  • EKG's and Blood draws

  • Meal Assistance and Bathing (ADLs: Activities of Daily living)

  • Patient Positioning / Transfers

  • Range of motion Exercises / Mobility


Intensive Care Units (ICU / CCU / NICU / PICU / MICU / SICU / TICU)

Intensive Care Units ( ICU) are one of the more stressful work environments in the hospital. ICU has patients that are critically ill and require close supervision in case care needs to be given to save the patient's life. Sometimes, however, patients do not always survive and past away in the ICU, PCTS should be aware of this before applying to these positions. ICU departments can even be broken into more specific units for specialized care based on condition or age. For example:

  • CCU: Cardiac Care Unit

  • NICU: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

  • PICU: Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

  • MICU: Medical Intensive Care Unit

  • SICU: Surgical Intensive Care Unit

  • TICU: Trauma Intensive Care Unit

Common Duties of a Patient Care Technician in an ICU may include:

  • Assitance with ADLS

  • Patient Transfers

  • Monitor Patient Vitals

  • Wound Care

  • DocumentingLiquid Input and OutPut

  • Collect and Label samples

  • Phlebotomy and EKG

A common misconception about healthcare jobs is you will have the same responsibilities regardless of the department you are in. This is not the case! There are vastly different expectations in each department. For example, Patient Care Technicians working in cardiology will not the same day to day tasks as a Patient Care Technician in the Emergency Room. Not every hospital is the same either. Some hospitals can double as research facilities or specialty hospitals, seeing a smaller focused demographic of patients.

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