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What is an average day like for Med Techs?

I'm looking into different career paths and I wanted to know what the average day looks like for a medical technician/technologist. What kind of specimen/reagents do you work with? How can I get started down this path?

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Bhavna’s Answer

An average day for a Medical Technician will depend on their specialization. However, some general duties that Medical Technicians may encounter daily include the following:

• Assessing patients’ medical conditions and providing treatments
• Performing laboratory tests on specimens
• Evaluating test results and contacting physicians with any questions
• Supervising junior medical technicians
• Analyzing tests and preparing reports for health care professionals
• Maintaining and troubleshooting equipment
• Recording information in patient charts
• Storing specimens and samples according to protocols
• Collecting blood, urine, and other body fluids for analysis
• Administering and monitoring medications
• Performing blood transfusions
• Generating reports for the patient’s legal guardians
• Administering vaccinations
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Aimee’s Answer

I am a medical laboratory scientist which is the new terminology for a 4 year degree in laboratory.

A typical day might involve a number of things. The process is drawing specimens, receiving them into the computer system, distributing them to the correct department, running the sample on an instrument or manually, interpreting and reporting results.

Most reagents are pretty self contained but occasionally you'll have to mix things together or add a diluent.

As for specimens really anything collected from the body. Mostly blood and urine. Other fluids, swabs, stool, and tissues as well.

To get started there are a few ways. There is phlebotomy or drawing specimens that is generally a high school degree. Medical laboratory technician is a 2 year program to be able to draw and process most samples. Then medical laboratory science is a 4 year degree to process all sample types. Histotechnicians are an adjacent 2 year degree to work more exclusively with tissues and pathology. Pathologists are the doctors that work closely with the laboratory.

I'd suggest shadowing at a nearby hospital to see what the lab is like and if you like it you can try phlebotomy or look into which schools offer programs. It's not a very well known field and not a lot of schools offer programs but they are out there.

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Maria Sue’s Answer

As medical technologists or medical lab scientists as we are now called, you have to have good organizational, analytical and time management skills. A typical day for a med tech has the following routine activities:

1. Preparing your work lists for pending tests (uncompleted due to various issues which you need to find out) and the new worklist for the tests you are doing for your shift.

2. Instrument related tasks- perform maintenance on your assigned instruments

3. Check environmental indicators such as temperature and humidity to ensure they are within specified limits ; also check the quality of distilled water you will use for testing through the system’s indicator

4. Prepare Quality control materials and calibrators you need to run your tests

5. Identify the specimens you are going to test.

6. Perform testing by running the instrument, if there are no issues after performing maintenance. If there is, you need to call technical support for assistance if you can’t troubleshoot it by yourself.

7. Review and release of results which is fine through the lab’s LIS. Report critical values according to your lab’s policies and procedures.

Take a break for coffee or lunch to relax your mind for a bit in between your tasks.

If you are working in specialized departments like Microbiology, histopathology or molecular testing , there are different tasks and procedures to follow .

Hope this helps and I’m so glad you posted this question. Good luck on your career. Encourage your friends to learn becoming a med tech
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Jennifer’s Answer

I agree with all of the comments I have read so far.
Here's my answer: It really depends on the type of lab on what you will do daily. This is what is great about the career field. You can remain a generalist or specialize, you can remain a line/bench tech or take on more supervisory duties. You can work in hospitals or clinics or research.
As far as types of samples: I tell people if it comes out or off of your body, we can analyze it. EVERYTHING.
How to get started - Take the hard sciences and math (not calculus, just algebras and stats). Decide 2 year degree or 4 year degree. If you have hard science heavy degree some labs will be able to hire you as an uncertified technician (pay is less and duties are limited). Look up Animal Technologist, Medical Lab Scientist, Medical lab Technician college majors and see what they require. My hospital program worked with students in their final year of their bachelor's degree, and you were put in the different labs and worked with techs. I currently work with students as part of my job teaching them to read cultures and learn how pathogens look and grow to help prep them for the national exam.
-I have worked in urgent care labs -sometimes we were constantly busy drawing blood, performing different testing, and cleaning. My shift went by quickly; in that same lab on a non-busy shift, I was there filing paperwork for the staff (work unrelated to my job) just to stay busy and help make the time pass.
-The animal hospital lab work was slower but steady and I also performed surgical prep and after care (I love animals so this was great for me).
-In a small hospital I was a generalist and performed duties in all sections of the lab (heme, chem, urinalysis, blood bank and microbiology). I spent just as much time prepping instruments as well as running patient samples somedays (Instruments can be finicky). I was also the shipping person (shipped biohazardous samples to other hospitals for testing and analysis) and did lots of paperwork(supervisory) but I worked with great people, and we were very close.
-I have also worked in large hospitals as a generalist and I've been so busy running quality controls and running/testing patient samples that my shift goes by quickly but because we were so busy all the time. It was hard to get to know people, all I knew was who I could count on and who I could not count on.
-I have worked research but it was boring to me - same thing every day. One lab I separated bugs by species (ticks and mosquitoes) for three months, another lab I ran samples for testing so that the instruments could get FDA approved (cool to be part of that, but we had to count and record EVERYTHING) so much paperwork. While samples were running, I was completing all the paperwork. Not bad if you like that type of work, no one really talked other than about the current project, I did get paid a lot, so that was good.
-I have specialized in microbiology for my current position. Micro is not for everyone, but I love it. Its hands on and brains on everyday but you have to get over the smell (organisms have unique smells like people). I'm used to it; I find it fascinating that organisms have unique smells and that it helps me do my job. In the morning we check to make sure things got finished from the previous shifts (each shift has a slightly different focus -reading cultures, prepping, processing samples) Then we read cultures, depending on the type of cultures that could take 2 hours or 6 hours of your shift. There are other processing things required to identify pathogens and set up antibiotic susceptibility testing that fill the shift. I like micro because sometimes I am "on the bench" reading cultures and other times I'm analyzing gram stains or determining if someone has a parasitic infection or has a fungus. Some micro/molecular labs also do PCR and other testing for viruses.
The bottom line is my work directly impacts how a healthcare provider is able to treat a patient.
Hope this helps. It's been a great career option for me - I thought about becoming a nurse or PA , but my mentor sat me down and asked what I like best about healthcare and what were my least favorite things. I am someone who loves healthcare, making a difference and problem solving I don't like pushing drugs as a fix and I know that I can't deal with patients every day. I hardly ever see patients (in my current position, I never see them) but I know that I am doing great things for them.
Good Luck with your future!