Medical Technologists (MT) work in laboratories performing tests on samples of bodily fluids and analyzing the results to help doctors diagnose diseases. While you don’t work directly with patients, you must enjoy problem solving based on your knowledge of science.
Description of the daily work:
Being accurate is an important trait of Medical Technologists. The Medical Technologists are also known as Clinical Laboratory Technologists. An MT is a medical detective responsible for uncovering diagnostic information used in the identification and treatment of almost all diseases. This information is gathered through chemical and biological testing and examination of various body fluids. The clues discovered by MTs are not only essential for the correct diagnosis, management and treatment of patients but are also used in the discovery of the causes and possible cures for many illnesses.
As an MT, you are the backbone of nearly every laboratory. On a daily basis, you perform tests on samples of blood and other bodily tissues and fluids. This may involve preparing specimens for examination, counting cells, and looking for abnormal cells. You contribute to high quality patient care by providing reliable lab results, controlling quality and working with physicians and researchers to determine the presence of disease and evaluate the effectiveness of specific treatments.
MTs use computers, high tech microscopes and chemicals to study the body’s tissues and fluids. They test for pregnancy, the presence of alcohol or drugs, bacteria, infections or more serious illnesses such as leukemia, diabetes or cancer. As more equipment becomes automated and the use of computer technology expands, MT’s work becomes less hands-on and more analytical.
Hospitals employ the most MTs. Other opportunities also exist in independent laboratories, physicians’ offices, clinics, research laboratories, or federal agencies. Most MTs work full-time though the hours may vary depending on the setting. Because doctors depend on lab results to decide on treatment or in emergency situations, some MTs work evenings or weekends shifts, or are on call for emergencies.
All Medical Technologists must have certain common characteristics. They are problem-solvers, like challenge and responsibility, are accurate, reliable, work well under pressure and are able to finish a task once started.
Education Requirements, Licensure/Certification:
To prepare for a medical technology career, you need to have a solid high school foundation in all the sciences, math and computers. Most healthcare facilities require Medical Technologists to gain a Bachelor’s Degree from an educational program for clinical laboratory personnel accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences.
Certification, while voluntary, is often expected for most jobs and is usually necessary for advancement. National certification examinations in Clinical Laboratory Sciences/Medical Technology are offered by the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) and the National Certifying Agency for Medical Laboratory Personnel (NCA). The American Association of Bioanalysts also certifies Medical Technologists in one or more of the seven following fields: Andrology, Chemistry, Embryology, Hematology, Immunology, Immunohematology, and Microbiology.
Nationally, median annual earnings of Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists were $42,910 in 2002.The hourly range of Medical Technologists start from $18.14.
Career Path and/or Opportunities for Growth:
You will have numerous options for specializing in particular areas of clinical laboratory science such as cytology (the study of cells), blood bank, histology (the study of tissue structure), cancer research, or in clinical trial work. You also have a variety of work settings from which to choose.
You may also advance to supervisory positions in laboratory work or become chief medical technologist or laboratory manager in a hospital. Other experienced MTs move into the business side and work in product development, marketing, and sales for manufactures of home diagnostic testing kits and laboratory equipment suppliers.