Patients do not usually see medical technologists as often as nurses. But every patient who has been to the doctor knows what a medical technologist is and has encountered one. Also called as clinical laboratory scientists, medical technologists are healthcare professionals who take various patient samples and test them for accurate assessment and diagnosis. They are inevitable to the healthcare team because they help discover and diagnose a plethora of medical conditions such as diabetes, heart diseases, and even cancer.
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Becoming a medical technologist is not as easy as it may seem. It takes a lot of discipline, diligence, and passion to join and stay in this industry. To become a medical technologist you first have to earn the right kind of education. The minimum requirement is an undergraduate degree. Also, before you can practice this profession, you need to pass a licensing or certification exam given by the country or state where you plan to work.
Getting a medical technology degree
People who want to become a medical technologist will usually take an associate degree in clinical laboratory science or a bachelor’s degree in medical technology. After finishing their undergraduate studies, they may opt to take advanced medical technology degrees such as a master’s and a doctorate. For an associate and a bachelor’s degree, there are certain educational prerequisites the applicant must complete before he or she can be admitted to a medical technology program.
A high school diploma is usually the first prerequisite before you are admitted to a medical technology degree program. Depending on the school and how strict they are with their clinical sciences courses, you may or may not be required to earn biological sciences, mathematics, and chemistry credits before you are considered for admission. Some schools may even require you to do one year of college coursework before you can pursue a degree in medical technology. College placement testing, entrance examinations and a series of interviews may also be included in the application process.
Associate degree in clinical laboratory science
Students who plan on taking an associate degree may get an Associate of Science (AS) major in Medical Technology or an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) major in Medical Technology. AS is focused on developing the student’s skills in laboratory research. ASS on the other hand is focused on applying clinical science concepts in a hospital setting. Both associate degrees aim to develop the student’s critical thinking, decision making, and patient handling skills.
Expect that coursework is heavy on science-related subjects like biochemistry, microbiology, anatomy, and physiology. AS students will also have basic and advanced research classes as well as subjects in laboratory procedures and clinical operations. ASS students will focus mainly on blood and sample studies, laboratory analysis, venipucture, intravenous procedures, and general patient care. Students of both an AS program and an ASS program are required to participate in at least one supervised field work before they can graduate.
Bachelor’s degree in medical technology
The course generally prepares students to take licensing and certification examinations and it serves as a foundation for students who want to pursue graduate studies or enter medical school. The program usually takes four years to complete and requires at least 200 credit hours of both course and field work. A bachelor’s degree in medical technology (BMT) focuses on the four diagnostic areas: chemistry, microbiology, hematology, and immunology. Subjects you are likely to take with this program are biological sciences, chemistry, genetics, immunology, hematology, human body homeostasis, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, statistics, and clinical research. As a final course requirement, students may be required to finish one or more projects such as a research paper, a dissertation with oral defense, case presentations, or filed work application.
Benefits of finishing a medical technology degree
The first benefit of earning a medical technology degree is that you can officially pursue a career in medical technology or other related laboratory science careers. With a degree you are presented with many options where you want to pursue your career. You can work in the hospital, in a research laboratory or company, work as an independent provider, and so much more. Another benefit is that the degree lays a very good foundation if ever you want to pursue higher studies. Employment and career advancement opportunities are abundant in this industry as well.