Psychiatric technicians work with people who have emotional or mental illness or developmental disabilities. They care for and interact with patients under the supervision of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric registered nurses and therapists. Psychiatric technicians help patients dress, bathe, groom and eat. In addition, they socialize with patients and lead them in their daily recreation, work and treatment activities. This may include playing games, doing crafts and assisting in therapy programs. They also perform simple nursing tasks, such as taking temperatures, giving medications and accompanying patients to and from patient care units for examination and treatment. Most important, psychiatric technicians act as companions and helpers to patients who are isolated from the outside world. They observe patients and report any physical or behavioral changes to the professional staff.
Most psychiatric technicians work for state hospitals. Some work in psychiatric units in general hospitals, private psychiatric hospitals or community mental health centers. In hospital settings, psychiatric technicians need to be on duty 24 hours a day, so technicians may be required to work nights, weekends and holidays.
Psychiatric technicians need to be friendly, patient and observant. To qualify for a psychiatric technician position, an individual must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or GED. A 1-2 year training program offered by a community college or other accredited school is also required. Equivalent college coursework combined with work experience may be substituted. Following training, psychiatric technicians must pass a written examination and be licensed by the State of California.
Links to Additional Career Information
California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (916) 263-7800 or (916) 263-7830
California Association of Psychiatric Technicians (CAPT) (800) 677-2278 or (916) 329-9145
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