My Education: BS in Biology, Merrimack College
My Prior Experience: I started as a medical technologist working primarily second shift in the hematology department for a small reference laboratory shortly after graduation. I moved to a new position working second shift as a generalist (meaning I worked in multiple departments within the laboratory) in a community based hospital laboratory. After 14 years, I moved to a first shift position working in the core laboratory (chemistry, hematology, coagulation, urinalysis of another community based hospital. After 2 years, I took a promotion to lead technologist.
My Company: I work for a community based hospital in northeastern Massachusetts.
Job/Career Overview: My job as a Medical Technologist is working behind the scenes assisting the physician in diagnosing and treating his patients, whether they are admitted to the hospital or as an outpatient being seen in his office.
I almost never see patients unless I were to also perform phlebotomy (collect blood samples from patients). I work primarily in the lab itself and on any given day I could be performing testing an any one of several complicated and sophisticated analyzers that perform testing on all types of body fluids. I can tell the difference between a patient with liver failure or a one that is having a heart attack.
I routinely use a microscope to look at blood smears to see whether a patient's cancer treatment is effective or whether a patient has mononucleosis. I test urine samples for illegal drugs and infection. I can tell how pregnant a woman is by testing her blood sample. I can learn if a patient taking blood thinners is taking the right dosage or not.
Because I am also the lead medical technologist I participate in the mandatory inspections at other laboratories in New England as well as assist those technologist that inspect our laboratory every two years. I am involved in the training of new technologists that we hire and also the training of student technologist from the surrounding colleges. I also have the opportunity to learn new instrumentation that the laboratory purchases, then teach the technologists on our staff how to operate them.
I rate this career 9 out of 10.
The best part of my job is that it is different every day. Because our laboratory is staffed by 6-7 techs every day, we all rotate to different work stations and operate different analyzers every day. We see new and exciting cases quite frequently. The worst part of my job is that it can be very stressful if it is a very busy day, or one of the analyzers is not working properly. It is very important on those days to stay organized and focused on the work at hand.
In order to be a successful medical technologist, it is helpful to be good in math and science and to really like those subjects. It is also helpful to be organized and detail-oriented, to be able to see the subtle changes that indicate an analyzer is not working properly or that a patient blood sample may not have the correct results for the tests requested. You need to be able to work and communicate well with your co-workers in order to share information that may be vital to the testing they may be performing.