PROJECTThe Registered Apprenticeship Occupations and Standards Center of Excellence

Navigation
  • Project Home
  • About the Project
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
  • Registered Apprenticeship Standards Library
  • National Occupational Frameworks
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Energy and Climate
  • Health Care
  • Information Technology
  • Professional Services
  • Public Sector
  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Resources
  • Get Involved

  • Health Care
    Infection Preventionist

    Occupational Purpose and Context

    An infection preventionist (IP) is responsible for performing and overseeing infection prevention and control efforts in health care or congregational settings. They are involved in all aspects of work occurring in these settings, utilizing data collection and analysis and policy development to ensure a safe environment. IPs review many factors to understand how infections occur and spread in a facility, using epidemiologic principles to identify patterns and trends. They observe health care and other practices affecting people and patients within the facility, educate health care teams, develop targeted interventions, and advise leadership and other professionals. They also accumulate and analyze infection data about their facility and community, establish policies and procedures to reduce infections, and coordinate with public health agencies.

    IPs have not typically entered the field directly through a defined university curriculum pathway. Instead, most IPs prepare through additional on-the-job training and education after serving in a health care occupation, most commonly as Registered Nurses or in other disciplines such as medical technology, microbiology, or public health. Although IP-specific degree programs are now becoming more widely available, most IPs in practice do not have these specialized degrees.

    The most common setting for most IPs is hospitals. But IP positions are found in a wide variety of venues, including but not limited to outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, ambulatory surgery centers, dialysis centers, psychiatric hospitals, local and state health departments, dental offices, acute care educational settings, prisons, schools, entertainment, and sports venues, and in the travel industry, such as cruise lines and hotels.

    National Occupational Framework (pdf)

    Medical Secretary

    Occupational Purpose and Context

    A medical secretary is a staff member in health care facilities like hospitals and doctors’ offices who performs administrative and supportive functions to ensure the success of the provider team in caring for patients. In addition to having administrative skills, medical secretaries should have a basic knowledge of medical terminology and be familiar with the core medical procedures and business practices of their office or care facility. Medical secretaries are expected to manage the daily operations of a medical facility, check patients in, verify patient insurance, and provide quality customer service.

    National Occupational Framework (pdf)

    Physical Therapist Assistant

    Occupational Purpose and Context

    Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) generally provide therapy to patients following a care plan specified by and under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. PTAs treat patients using thermal, electrical, and other modalities and provide various therapeutic interventions, including balance and gait training, stretching, therapeutic massages, and other physical treatments. They guide patients in the use of numerous assistive devices and equipment and lead patients through therapeutic exercises. They also educate patients and caregivers in self-administered treatments and therapeutic activities. PTAs report patients’ treatments and measure patients’ treatments and therapy outcomes, reporting information to the supervising physical therapist. 

    National Occupational Framework (pdf)

    Psychiatric Technician

    Occupational Purpose and Context

    Psychiatric technicians (psych techs) assist other health and behavioral health professionals in caring for, treating, and rehabilitating patients with mental or emotional conditions or disabilities. They do this by monitoring patient health, safety, and well-being; providing nursing, psychiatric, and personal care in accordance with treatment plans; managing patients’ daily schedules; and assisting with their overall rehabilitation, development, and (where possible) return to the community.

    Psych techs work with people with varying types and degrees of mental illness, developmental disabilities, and/or age-related degenerative diagnoses. This includes people with psychiatric conditions, dementia, developmental disabilities, substance use disorders, and dual diagnoses. In addition, psych techs frequently work with patients who have a criminal record. Psych techs adjust the care they provide based on the patient’s needs, including where they are in their treatment. They also work to encourage patients to develop independence and self-reliance. Psych techs can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, group care facilities (e.g., nursing homes, assisted living facilities), prisons, and on mobile response teams.

    Psych techs utilize principles of mental health care and human development, technical expertise, and manual skills to provide direct care to patients. Depending on the needs and preferences of the employer, psych techs perform or assist in one or more of these patient care areas: basic nursing, patient intake, patient assessment, therapeutic activities, recreational activities, educational and vocational activities, medication administration and/or monitoring, treatment plan development, treatment plan implementation, patient and family education, and geriatric care. They may also be required to perform administrative duties, such as record-keeping.

    Psych techs serve on interdisciplinary teams, collaborating closely with psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, registered nurses, doctors, rehabilitation therapists, and other psych techs. They perform a vital, frontline function, implementing treatment plans established by these professionals, monitoring and observing patients, and reporting back on treatment progress and any symptoms that require attention.

    The responsibilities and duties of psych techs vary depending on the setting, facility, and state where they practice, along with their licenses and certifications. Psych techs are licensed in four states: Arkansas, California, Colorado, and Kansas. Psych techs in these states may have more responsibilities and perform more highly-skilled work—such as informing and implementing patient treatment plans—compared with psych techs in other states. In some states, psych techs can earn additional certifications needed to perform certain procedures (e.g., drawing blood). In states where psych techs are not licensed, they may be restricted from performing certain tasks such as administering medication, leading group therapy sessions, and transcribing physician orders.

    Many facilities also employ entry-level psychiatric aides, who perform nursing and personal care duties. In those facilities, psych techs may focus on providing therapeutic care and monitoring their patients’ conditions, whereas psychiatric aides help patients in their daily activities and ensure a safe and clean environment.

    National Occupational Framework (pdf)

    Substance Use Counselor

    Occupational Purpose and Context

    Substance use counselors assess, monitor, support, and counsel individuals with substance use disorders. They may also assist and provide referrals for clients with co-occurring mood and behavioral disorders. Substance use counselors work with individuals and their support systems to assist with treatment, engage in relapse prevention, make referrals to other community services, and evaluate recovery progress. Substance use counselors use trauma-informed care and evidence-based practices to support clients at every step of the recovery process.

    The work setting for substance use counselors varies. Substance use counselors may work in outpatient centers, hospitals, residential treatment facilities, medication for opioid use disorder treatment facilities, or individual private practices.

    National Occupational Framework (pdf)