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Q&A | Tiffins, PCT tasks, and do my coworkers know I blog?

Kristin, love that you use the stainless steel tiffin boxes. I have many but hesitate to take them as you cannot reheat the food. How do you navigate this?


You are right; if I tried to put these in the microwave at work, it would be a very….sparkly experience. 😉 And I might throw some circuit breakers in the hospital!

metal lunch containers.

So, I just use the stainless steel containers for things that do not need to be heated up. Cottage cheese and fruit, sandwiches, salads, trail mix, sliced veggies…all of those are great in the stainless steel containers.

And for things I plan to microwave, I use my glass Pyrex containers.

two bowls of chicken soup.

Soup always goes in glass!

I love Pyrex, but it is heavy and bulky. So that’s why I put most of my not-for-the-microwave food in metal containers; that keeps my lunchbox from weighing 25 pounds. 😉

Also: the stainless steel ones don’t break, which is a serious upside.

The metal containers I have:

I’m interested to hear what you do in your job. Are you doing regular nursing, just under supervision, or things that don’t require a nursing license? It sounds like a great way to get experience for your future nursing career and opening a door to a job when you graduate. And I’ll bet they are thankful to have you!

I saw you mentioned doing a nurse residency. Is that now standard for RN’s or optional? Will you be able to do it at the same hospital?


My job title is Student Nurse Patient Care Technician (PCT for short).

There are also people who are just straight-up PCTs; they have not gone to nursing school at all; they did the patient care tech training program to get licensed.

The things I do are more limited than what an actual nurse can do. For example, I cannot administer any medications, and I can’t do things like deciding to give a patient oxygen.

But I am licensed to do things like:

  • blood draws
  • urinary catheter insertion and removal
  • blood glucose testing
  • bladder scanning with an ultrasound machine
  • removing IVs
  • putting on and removing sequential compression devices (they squeeze your calves while you’re in bed, to help prevent blood clots)
  • showing patients how to use their incentive spirometers

I am responsible for doing vital signs every four hours (and letting the nurse know if something seems off), giving bed baths, helping feed patients, cleaning up incontinent patients, stripping rooms once patients are discharged, and tracking patients’ I’s and O’s (Intake and Output, meaning, how much are they drinking and how much are they peeing?)

kristen's pct badge.

I also help patients ambulate to the bathroom and around the hospital floor (we want them to move if at all possible!), bring them ice water and snacks, and do various tasks that the assigned nurse wants to hand off to me.

I help other nurses and PCTs on the floor when they need it too (sometimes wound care or incontinence cleanup requires multiple hands on deck!), and if I have a few free minutes, I do things like restocking gloves in my rooms and on my hall.

glove on Kristen's hand.

A less-defined role: emotional support! I haven’t worked that many shifts but already I have had plenty of opportunities to practice empathizing, listening, and encouraging.

And when I’m doing something like supervising a patient who is ambulating around the hall, I chit-chat with them and ask questions if it seems like they want to talk.


This is not an exhaustive list of what PCTs are responsible for, but it is enough to give you an idea of what I do!

thumbs up in a blue hospital glove.

As far as residency requirements go, I think they vary state by state and also by which specialty you hope to go into. I have read that if you want to go straight into labor and delivery, a residency is a good route to go. But…I will figure this out for sure sometime in the next year!

I also know some people just choose to work a year on a med-surg type of floor as a new grad (with supervision of course), and then they branch out into some other area of nursing.

1. Do your co-workers know about your life as a frugal blogger? Do any of them read your blog? (So many of my friends have no idea that I have blogged 5 days a week since 2008, so I am curious how that situation is for you, because your presence is WAY WAY bigger than mine!)
2. How will Purex know if your promo post for them is successful?
3. Will you use some of the $$ from your job to hire someone to mow your yard? (I vote YES!)

-Central CA Jana

One: so far, only a handful know that I have a blog, but I’m sure that will change over time. Some of my classmates know that I blog, but it took a while before it came up in conversation there. And I’m pretty sure that most of my classmates have no idea I’m a blogger.

Snoopy Woodstock mac laptop decal

Back to co-workers: I don’t mind if they eventually read my blog because I always, always write while keeping in mind that anyone in my life (past, present, or future) could read my posts.

So, everything I publish is safe for consumption by family, friends, fellow students, co-workers, and so on.

Two: Because I have a URL (that’s my domain name, that is 16 years old, and I have a large, established audience, Purex already knows that my post for them will be successful. They are not tracking purchases specifically from my post, of course, but me writing about their detergent gives them plenty of exposure.

Three: Hmmm, I hadn’t actually thought about spending my PCT earnings on a lawn service! It did occur to me to put my PCT money into some special category, and I’d considered sending it to a travel fund.

riding lawnmower.

But maybe I should set some aside for lawn mowing too. I’m guessing, though, that it would probably cost $60-$70 to have someone mow my yard. And that amounts to about 4-ish hours of PCT work, once you take out taxes (I get paid $20/hour).

So now I gotta consider: do I wanna trade four hours of earnings for mowing, when I could mow my yard in about an hour?


At a nursing hourly rate, that would be a much easier decision. But PCTs don’t get paid very much.

What’s your vote on the lawn-mowing? And feel free to weigh in on anything else in this post as well.

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Wednesday 10th of July 2024

For the lawn, consider getting a quote or two. I know prices vary by local, but we pay $140/ month and have about 1/4 an acre (with a house on it).

Central Calif. Artist Jana

Monday 8th of July 2024

THANK YOU for answering my questions! 1. I love that your blog is safe for all to read. (Mine is too, but it might be a little bit boring because it is so regionally based.) 2. Awesome following! Good for Purex for having the sense to find you. I hope they paid you well (but none of our business). 3. Doggone it, if I lived closer, I would mow your lawn for you.

Becca C

Friday 5th of July 2024

I think the lawn mowing comes down to how much you like mowing your lawn and working. A lot of frugal decisions are like that. Bread baking for example, does not save a ton of money when you consider the time involved. But I enjoy being home and baking bread more than working, so I do it.

Ingrid Knight

Thursday 4th of July 2024

Your time speaking with patients, and understanding what they are experiencing, may be the most valuable thing to your career. Hugs to you , and thank you for the service.


Thursday 4th of July 2024

Yes; good practical care is only part of the job. It's so important to help people feel seen and understood too!

Kim from Philadelphia

Thursday 4th of July 2024

Might their be a neighbor kid that could do it for less than a company, but would appreciate the money?

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