What Does a Medical Tech Do?

A medical technologist is a highly trained professional who plays an important role in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease.

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Job Description

A medical technologist is responsible for analyzing medical samples in order to help diagnose and treat patients. They use a variety of sophisticated equipment and instruments to perform their tests, and often work in hospitals or clinics.

Duties

As a medical technologist, also called a clinical laboratory scientist or a medical technician, your job is to perform tests on blood and other body fluids to help doctors diagnose and treat patients. You’ll need to have strong attention to detail and be able to work independently.

In most cases, you’ll work in a hospital or reference laboratory setting. You may also work in a blood bank, public health laboratory, or research facility. Your specific duties will depend on your employer and the type of facility you work in, but may include:

-Collecting blood samples from patients
-Preparing blood samples for testing
-Operating machines that analyze body fluids
-interpreting test results
-Keeping accurate records of test results
-Supervising other medical technologists or technicians

Skills

In order to work in medical technology, individuals must have strong technical skills. They must be able to operate and maintain complex equipment and instruments. They must also have strong critical-thinking skills to be able to solve problems that may arise during testing. They need to be detail oriented in order to accurately collect data and follow instructions. Medical technologists also need good communication skills to be able to explain results to physicians and other healthcare providers.

Education and Training

Most medical techs have an associate’s degree in medical technology, although a bachelor’s degree may be required for some positions. Some also hold certification from the American Medical Technologists or the American Society for Clinical Pathology. Prospective medical techs can find certification programs at many community colleges and technical schools.

Programs

Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) programs are available at many community colleges and technical institutes. A few four-year colleges also offer this type of program. The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) accredits more than 200 medical laboratory technician programs across the country.
Students in these programs take courses in mathematics, English, and the sciences. They also receive clinical training in which they work with medical laboratory equipment and learn to perform various medical laboratory tests.
Most MLT programs take about 2 years to complete, although some may be completed in as little as 18 months. Some schools offer distance learning options that allow students to complete some or all of their coursework online.

Certification

At a minimum, all medical technologists must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with coursework in biological sciences, chemistry and math. Many employers prefer candidates who have completed a degree in medical technology. Alternatively, you can complete a one-year certificate program in medical technology or earn a two-year associate degree in clinical laboratory science. Some four-year colleges and universities offer combined bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that can be completed in five years.

Regardless of the educational path you choose, you must also complete a clinical internship or externship to gain hands-on experience in the field. Once you have completed your education and training, you will need to earn professional certification as a medical technologist. Certification is not required in all states, but it is generally preferred by employers. The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Certification offers the Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) credential. To qualify for the MLS exam, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or life sciences with coursework in biology and chemistry, along with clinical laboratory training. You must also have completed at least one year of full-time work as a medical technologist in an accredited laboratory

Salary and Job Outlook

Employment of medical and clinical laboratory technologists is projected to grow 14 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for medical and clinical laboratory technologists was $53,120 in May 2019. Job prospects should be best for those who have completed a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in medical laboratory science.

Salary

A medical technologist is a professional who uses his or her technical skills to perform various laboratory tests. These tests can be used to diagnose and treat diseases, or they may be used to monitor the health of patients. Medical technologists work in hospitals, clinics, and laboratories, and they may specialize in a particular area of medicine, such as blood banking or microbiology.

The median annual salary for medical technologists was $51,770 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,870, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,000.1

Most medical technologists work full time; however, some may work evenings or weekends to cover shifts in hospital laboratories. In 2016, about 21 percent of medical technologists worked part time.1

Job Outlook

The job outlook for medical technicians is good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of medical technologists and technicians will grow by 13 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations. An aging population and an increase in the number of patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, will lead to an increased demand for diagnostic testing, which medical technicians perform.

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