Karen’s third child entered middle school the same year her oldest made the high school football team. When she decided to return to the workforce after a 15-year absence, she discovered that the education and training required for the career of her dreams – medical technology – turned out to be more rigorous than anything she had imagined.
Overview of Medical Technology
There are more than 300,000 medical technologists and technicians working in the United States, according to American Medical Technologists. A medical technologist performs a variety of complex chemical, biological and histological analyses.
Technologists work in clinical laboratories of hospitals, other medical facilities and private testing companies. Education-Portal.com reports that training focuses on the development of analytical skills in addition to laboratory technology.
Individuals who want to become medical technologists have two basic educational options. The minimum is a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or a science such as biology, chemistry or biochemistry.
Undergraduate medical technology majors must complete courses in the sciences, microbiology, math and statistics in addition to the classes their college or university requires in humanities, physical education, language and other general education areas. Most also complete an internship.
Individuals employed as medical technicians often advance to medical technologists after completing the appropriate additional formal training.
For individuals with bachelor’s degrees but without a medical technology major, educational requirements typically take between 12 and 18 months to complete. The credential earned is usually known as a Medical Laboratory Technology Certificate of Proficiency, though it has other names. Classes cover medical microbiology, clinical chemistry, phlebotomy, hematology, parasitology, diagnostic immunology and clinical laboratory instrumentation.
Licensing and Credentialing
The educational requirements for licensing vary by state. Some require passing one or more exams. Information on licensure requirements is available from state health departments.
In many cases, medical technologists who are certified by a professional association such as the American Medical Technologists have an edge when it comes to finding a job. The nationally recognized agencies that accredit educational programs in medical technology include the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
In order to maintain licenses and certifications, medical technologists must complete continuing education requirements. The type and amount varies according to the credentialing. However, the American Medical Technologist certification status mandates 45 continuing education credits within a three-year period. Most states require up to 15 continuing education units each year to maintain a license in medical technology.