Career Outlook

Health Studies Students

Health Sciences at a Glance

Health Studies Students

Career Opportunities

Students enrolled in the Health Sciences program can prepare for specific careers by taking either Patient Care Technician or Surgical Processing Technician courses.

Educational Requirements

Patient care technicians, also called nursing assistants, complete state-approved certification programs in which they learn the basic principles of nursing and complete supervised clinical work. Surgical processing technicians, also called sterile processing technicians, complete state-approved Certified Registered Central Service Technician certification.

Job Responsibilities

Patient care technicians provide basic care for patients in hospitals and residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Some responsibilities include:

  • Clean and bathe patients or residents
  • Help patients use the toilet and dress
  • Turn, reposition, and transfer patients between beds and wheelchairs
  • Listen to and record patients’ health concerns and report that information to nurses
  • Measure patients’ vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature
  • Serve meals and help patients eat

Surgical processing technicians are responsible for sterilizing and assembling routine or specialty surgical instrument trays or other sterilized supplies, filling special requests as needed. Some other responsibilities may include:

  • Clean instruments to prepare them for sterilization
  • Organize and assemble routine or specialty surgical instrument trays or other sterilized supplies
  • Examine equipment to detect leaks, worn or loose parts, or other indications of disrepair
  • Report defective equipment to appropriate supervisors or staff
  • Maintain records of inventory or equipment usage and order medical instruments or supplies when inventory is low
  • Check sterile supplies to ensure that they are not outdated

Outlook for Employment

Employment of patient care technicians is projected to grow 11 percent through 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Overall employment of medical instrument preparers – including surgical processing technicians – is expected to grow 11 percent through 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

Some Industries That Employ Patient Care Technicians Include:

  • Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities)
  • Hospitals; state, local, and private
  • Residential care facilities
  • Home healthcare services
  • Government

Some Industries That Employ Surgical Processing Technicians Include:

  • General medical and surgical hospitals
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Physician offices
  • Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing

Please note that these are national statistics and projections that might vary by location.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook and Occupations (visited January 18, 2018).