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Medical Technologist Training Programs: Medical Technology School, Medical Technologist Career

A medical technologist is responsible for operating, preparing and troubleshooting sophisticated medical equipment used in and outside of the operating room in a medical setting, and for conducting several types of tests used by physicians and nurses. Medical technologists have several job duties and responsibilities, and work primarily with a physician or team of physicians to ensure that the doctor has access to all the equipment they need to perform a procedure.

Educational programs for this career path are available at several medical technologist schools around the country, and consist of both classroom instruction and clinical. Medical technologist programs prepare students with the practical skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their careers, and completion of these programs may lead to an associate's or bachelor's degree in the field.

Job Description of a Medical Technologist

Some medical technologists work in a laboratory setting and are responsible for conducting tests and using certain types of lab equipment. Others may work with medical instruments and equipment in a hospital or practice setting. Medical technologists may also work in pharmaceutical labs, research institutions, veterinary offices, or with the U.S. armed forces or U.S. public health service.

The medical technologist is typically responsible for the following:

  • Performing routine tests on laboratory equipment

  • Preparing samples of body tissues

  • Making chemical analyses of specimens

  • Conducting biological analyses of cells

  • Performing urinalyses

  • Reporting blood counts

  • Using automated equipment and computerized instruments

  • Relaying test results to physicians

  • Modify procedures in the clinical setting

The majority of medical technology career professionals have advanced degrees and may be responsible for training and educating a team of employees in a department.

Medical Technologist Programs

Medical technologist programs are designed to teach students the basic skills and applications needed to succeed in the hospital or laboratory setting as a medical technologist. Some programs allow for specializations in areas such as:

  • Health policy development

  • Research

  • Education

  • Public health

  • Diagnostic equipment research and development

  • Veterinary science

Entry-level positions in the field of medical technology and clinical laboratory technology typically require at least a bachelor's degree in medical technology or the life sciences. Medical technicians may only need to acquire an associate's degree or certificate in the field to enter the job market, and will learn a lot of their skills on the job.

Medical technologist programs typically consist of the following courses:

  • Introduction to Medical Technology

  • Biology Concepts

  • General Chemistry

  • Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology

  • Medical Bacteriology

  • Introduction to Hematology

  • Immunology-Serology

  • Biochemistry

In addition to the biology and chemistry courses, students are responsible for taking courses about operating basic medical equipment, instruments and computerized systems. Much of this training is also taught on the job site, or through an internship program at a local hospital, physician's practice or laboratory. This allows the prospective medical technologist to gain the hands-on, practical experience they need to perform basic job duties on a daily basis, and provides them with a solid foundation for their medical technology career.

What to Expect at a Medical Technologist School

Many medical technologist programs can be completed within 12 months, and students are responsible for completing clinical, classroom work and didactic courses that may consist of practicals, weekly tests and a behavioral evaluation. Clinical courses typically consist of oral and written quizzes, followed by a practical examination at the end of the week.

The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) accredits approximately 470 medical technologist programs and clinical laboratory technologist programs in the United States. Other accrediting agencies include the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.

After completing medical technologist training at their chosen school, graduates may need to apply for licensure. Some States require all laboratory personnel to be licensed and registered, but licensing and registration requirements vary from state to state. Graduates can also apply for certification from the American Medical Technologists (AMT) association, or the other certifying agencies in order to make themselves more attractive to prospective employers.

A licensed and registered medical technologist can then begin acquiring work experience by working in a clinical laboratory or physician's office setting. Medical technology career opportunities abound at hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and other agencies. These organizations hire medical technologists on an ongoing basis, and are looking for experienced candidates. Medical technology career options include entry-level technician jobs, medical technologist positions, and managerial and supervisory positions.

Medical Technology Career Outlook

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for medical technologists are expected to be excellent through 2016. Median annual wage-and-salary earnings of medical and clinical laboratory technologists were $49,700 in May 2006, and those who worked for the Federal Government or medical and diagnostic laboratories could earn as much as $57,360. Related career paths include science technicians, veterinary technologists and material scientists.

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Medical Technologist Training Programs: Medical Technology School, Medical Technologist Career