Job Title: Medical Technologist
Type of Company: I work in a hospital in southern New Hampshire.
Education: BA, Medical Technology, Merrimack College
Previous Experience: After college I worked as a medical technologist in the blood bank at large hospital in Boston. After 8 years, I decided to find a job closer to home and I currently work as a medical technologist performing blood bank, hematology, urine/coagulation and microbiology at a small local hospital.
Job Tasks: A medical technologist is a vital part of a hospital's staff. I am the person behind the scenes. Every lab test that a doctor orders comes to the laboratory where a medical technologist puts it through a series of screenings. The results are often the key to a patients diagnosis and contain invaluable information.
Many types of patient samples come into the lab. Blood samples can be tested for numerous things. In hematology, blood is tested both manually and with machines. Red blood cell counts, white blood cell counts, hemoglobin and hematocrit levels are determined here. Slides are made with the patient's blood so techs can look at the cells under a microscope to see if they look normal or abnormal. Abnormal cells are often an indication of specific diseases like mono or different types of leukemia or cancer.
Another part of the lab is called urinalysis and coagulation. Here we test urine for abnormalities and blood for coagulation problems. In microbiology samples are tested for bacteria. Throat swabs can be tested for strep throat. Urine is tested for bacteria which can aid in the detection of a urinary tract infection. Blood is tested for bacteria as well, a test that is crucial to determining if a very sick person is septic.
The blood bank is a very exciting part of the lab. Here we test patients blood types and get blood ready for transfusion. People need blood for many different reasons, sometimes its because they have cancer and their blood counts are low. Other times a person has lost blood due to a major accident or during surgery. A blood banker can save a patients life by getting blood ready quick enough to be infused.
All in all the lab is a huge piece of the diagnostic process. A doctor often needs lab results in order to determine what is wrong with a sick patient.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is that I know the testing that I do will help a doctor treat a patient. It's a good feeling knowing that you are part of helping someone get better.
The worst part is seeing test results that you know are critical and that sometimes a doctor can't fix.
Job Tips: Medical technology is a great field to get into because there is always going to be a need for med techs. There are positions in hospitals, private labs and even some doctor's offices. My advice would be to stay a generalist which is to stay current in all fields of medical technology. Large hospitals allow you to work in just one department (like microbiology or blood bank) but most small hospitals want you to know it all and have that flexibility to move around the lab.
Medical technologists have to pass a certification exam. But choose a school program too that offers an internship. An internship gives you the hands-on experience in the lab that you need to succeed.
Additional Thoughts: To be successful in the job, you need to have great organizational skills, be good at multi-tasking and most importantly be able to put all the pieces together to help solve the diagnosis problem
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