Diversity Career Stories Healthcare

Patient care assistant seeks career change after injury on the job

What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?
I am a Patient Care Assistant (PCA) in the health care industry. I have more than 20 years experience in the field. I would describe myself as dependable, honest and caring.

How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?
I am presently taking care of an elderly couple and cleaning their home among other duties. There are no misunderstandings here.

What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best? Do you speak another language, and has it been helpful in your career?
I am a white, Italian female. I do not speak another language fluently. It would help me attain a position, I am sure, if I did. Especially Spanish.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?
On a scale of 1 to 10. I am currently at a 4. I do not enjoy this work like I used to. I am ready to go back to the corporate world. An office setting with benefits is what I prefer now since I hurt my back being a (PCA) resident assistant.

If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?
I would love to continue to help the elderly in a different capacity. I could help them legally with their issues and concerns and protect them. I have not found my “sweet spot”, as of yet. I do have a soft heart for those who need assistance.

Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?
I am a very sincere person. I would say to others about being in the health care field, that everything you do is very important and you have an impact on people’s lives and you should be a caring person.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I would not go back and change my experience or my decision to get educated in the field. Life is all about learning and growing. I value my education and experience in the health care field. It has helped me and my family. I have saved a few lives and this has been very rewarding.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?
I know how hard it can be physically on your body. I hurt my back a long time ago and have to be very careful not to lift too much weight. Sometimes, even when a person is using the proper techniques to transfer, you can still hurt yourself.

What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?
Follow all company policy and procedures. Don’t get involved with gossip. Strive to do your best at all times.

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?
The strangest thing that happened was when a client had used too much denture cream and I could not get the dentures out of their mouth regardless of what I tried.

Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?
I am happy to help and they need me.

What kind of challenges do you face and what makes you just want to quit?

The emotions I have when someone dies makes me consider quitting. This can be very upsetting especially when you have worked with them for a while. It’s very sad.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?
My job now is not stressful. I only work part-time right now. I am seeking full time office work. I am at home when my two girls go to school on the bus. I pick them up after school. I don’t have enough money for food and utilities right now and am actively seeking a comfortable, day-time job. When I worked for the elderly full time it was an overnight shift. It took me a year to feel normal (adjusting to sleeping in the day).

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?
I was not paid enough for the work I did. I was paid only $10.25 p/hour. I had to live within my means.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
I took 1 week vacation in 2 years. No, it wasn’t enough.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
As a Nursing Assistant, you need to be certified. It took less than a year in school. I took the PCA class. It included Home Health Care. Some institutions require you have a state license as well. I did a lot of private duty work in people’s homes and was paid by the families. The pay was much better. $15.00 an hour usually.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
It’s a lot of work and usually you are underpaid. There are a lot of older people who need your love and care. You must be compassionate and kind.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

Taking care of business in an office. Lots of paper work will make me happy and I will enjoy the great pay with all the benefits. I would be helping people find jobs, find resources, doing research or being an advocate for them.