Medical technologists perform laboratory tests to help physicians diagnose patients. A technologist might also collect samples, including blood, tissue or other bodily fluids. Even though a medical technologist doesn’t diagnose or treat the patient himself, his work is crucial to the medical industry's ability to accurately diagnose illnesses and prescribe successful treatments.
A small facility might assign medical technologists to collect samples. To do so, technologists wear personal protective clothing -- including gloves, goggles and masks. A technologist can ask patients for urine samples, draw blood, tweeze hair and scrape skin to collect samples. All samples are taken based on the test ordered by the physician. Physicians can specify which sample collection they prefer or the technologist can refer to the laboratory’s in-house specimen collection and handling procedures for the appropriate specimen type and amount.
After collection, medical technologists analyze specimens. While some tests require inspection through a microscope, others are run through sophisticated machines, automated equipment and computerized instruments. Technologists log the data from these tests into the patient’s medical record or the laboratory’s electronic system. Specialized medical technologists take on additional analysis steps. For example, microbiology technologists identify and analyze bacteria and other infectious or non-infectious microorganisms. Immunology technologists can analyze portions of the human immune system and examine how it responds to foreign elements.
At a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or a related science is preferred. Check to see whether your state requires medical technologists to be licensed. If so, the technologist must pay an application fee and pass an examination to become a registered technologist. Verify with your state’s health department or board of occupational licensing about licenses or certifications that are required and the prerequisites to apply for them.
Work Environment and Salary
Technologists can work full or part-time, around the clock, and on holidays or weekends. Because a technologist must spend hours on her feet, she must be physically capable of standing for long periods of time, assisting patients with specimen collection and working any job-related equipment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for medical technologists in 2011 was $58,120, with the highest 10 percent earning $78,160 a year.
- Education Portal: Medical Technologist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
- ARUP Laboratories: Specimen Preparation and Transport
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: 29-2011 Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists
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