Career Story: Medical Technologist At A Veteran's Hospital

Medical Technologist At A Veteran's Hospital


Education: M.T.(A.S.C.P) University of Maryland at Baltimore

Previous Experience: My first laboratory job after college was as an evening shift stat laboratory technologist who drew blood on the floors and ER and ran the emergency tests.

Job Tasks: At the veterans hospital, I work at several areas in the clinical laboratory that performs emergency testing for patients that come to the emergency room and for patients that have been hospitalized. There are also specimens that come from outside clinics for patients that do not live near this hospital. These areas that I work use the following:

1. hematology analyzers that run complete blood counts and coagulation studies and reading blood smears under a microscope to rule out infections, malignancies, anemias, sickle cells, etc.

2. chemistry analyzers that run heart, liver, kidney and pancreas function tests and therapeutic drug testing and drugs-of-abuse testing.

3. microbiology staining and testing for septicemia, Strep throats, HIV, meningitis, and other infections.

4. blood banking to test compatibility for patient transfusion of red blood cells, platelets and sometimes tissue products for the operating room.

Most of my time is keeping the instrument going with patient samples or at the computer making sure that the test results are accurate for the physicians to use in their diagnoses and for guiding therapy for their patients. It is most important to give accurate and timely results and to call the doctor with any value that is critical for the patient.

I spend spare time doing clerical entry of specialized tests performed at reference laboratories. These are tests that require sophisticated equipment and technical experts for more complex testing that is not offered in the hospital due to cost restraints.

I had the opportunity to do training for new instrumentation at Miami, Florida and Anaheim, California a few years ago. This prepared me for troubleshooting analyzer problems or performing maintenance to keep the machines running smoothly and to help my co-workers when they have some instrument difficulties.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of being a medical technologist is finding a result that would help the doctor make a definitive diagnosis especially for rarely encountered diseases so that the patient can be cared in a timely and effective manner.

The worst part of the job is the stress that occurs from too many samples to test, especially when the instruments are failing and the providers demand an answer before we can accurately give them one.

Job Tips: This career requires a good grasp of biological concepts as applied to the human body, chemistry principles that are the basis of the clinical analyzers, mathematical manipulations for accurate analysis of measured tests and concentrations of bodily components such as cells and chemicals, enzymes, etc., and microbiology principles for normal and pathological infective agents.

Simply put, listen to your teachers, read and learn as much as your young mind can absorb which is quite a bit, and do your best with the assignments, projects and homework that your teacher gives you.

Additional Thoughts: This is a very rewarding field that requires a good emotional makeup, intellect and altruistic nature. It is a field that will experience a shortage in the near future, so we need young people to fill the upcoming need, especially as new and improved tests are developed.

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