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Pearls for Practice — What you should know about nurse technicians

In the last 18 years, nurse techs have been welcomed into many health care facilities in Washington — although some nurses may have never worked with a nurse tech. So, what does a nurse need to know when working with a nurse tech?

This story was published in the Winter 2022 issue of The Washington Nurse magazine.

What you should know about nurse technicians

 The registered nurse technician license was established in 2003 by the Washington State Legislature for nursing students who are preparing for RN licensure through an accredited nursing program in Washington state.

In the last 18 years, nurse techs have been welcomed into many health care facilities in Washington — although some nurses may have never worked with a nurse tech. So, what does a nurse need to know when working with a nurse tech?

Nurse techs are allowed to work within the limits of their education, up to their skills and knowledge, as verified by their nursing program.

  • The nursing program must verify specific tasks and functions that the nurse tech has the ability to perform safely. The nurse tech is responsible for knowing which tasks and functions they can and cannot perform. These tasks will change as the nurse tech progresses through their education, and it is the nurse tech’s responsibility to keep their workplace apprised of any new tasks and functions they are able to perform.
  • Nurse techs are not allowed to administer intravenous medications, blood or blood products, chemotherapy, scheduled drugs, or to work with central lines.
  • Health care facilities may also have additional limitations or restrictions on the tasks and functions a nurse tech is allowed to carry out.

Nurse techs carry their own license but work under the direction and supervision of a registered nurse. This means the supervising RN must be immediately available to the nurse tech, should any issues arise.

Nurse techs do not function independently. They are not allowed to supervise or delegate tasks to other members of the health care team, such as LPNs, CNAs or unlicensed personnel.

The RN working with a nurse tech continues to have accountability for patient assessment and care, and responsibility for the entirety of the nursing process.

Nurse techs gain valuable experience and skills as they assist with patient care. For the registered nurse, working with a nurse tech is an opportunity to mentor the next generation of nurses as they work towards entering the profession.

Specific rules and laws regarding nurse techs can be found in the following RCWs and WACs:

  • RCW 18.79.340
  • WAC 246-840-880
  • WAC 246-840-870
  • WAC 246-840-860

Hire a Nurse Tech - Washington Department of Health