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What to Expect from a Medical Technology Education

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects many medical professionals may experience an increase in employment opportunities during the coming years. This growth could be attributed to two factors: as the Baby Boomer generation ages and remains active later in life, they are becoming more reliant upon health care; and, there has been an increase in people entering the health care market as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

Eight of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) 20 fastest-growing occupations were in the medical field and five of the 20 occupations with the highest numbers of new jobs were in the medical industry. The BLS projects that between 2010 and 2020, some medical technology professions may experience an employment growth rate that is much faster than the national average for all other occupations:

  1. Nursing aides, medical orderlies and attendants. Up to 20 percent
  2. EMTs and paramedics. Up to 33 percent
  3. Diagnostic medical sonographers. Up to 44 percent

While other industries have struggled to return to their post-recession employment highs, recent employment data from the BLS indicates private sector gross job gains for health services have returned to their pre-recession highs, with the trend moving steadily up since the recession-caused lows.

Medical schools are integrating technology

Would you trust an auto mechanic to repair your car without ever having touched one before? Then there is no reason to expect medical professionals to be able to operate medical technologies, such as an MRI machine -- even if they have a degree in radiological technology -- if they have never actually operated the machine. In addition, medical technology can be hazardous to those who operate it.

Medical technical schools typically provide both in-class and hands-on training for the skills they are teaching to their students. According to the BLS, professional certifications, state licensing requirements and medical technology programs either require their applicants to have -- or else they provide -- real-world experience in the medical fields. These requirements pertain to diagnostic medical imaging technologists down to medical records and health information technicians and typically every profession in the medical field in between.

This combination of practical experience and classroom knowledge are mutually beneficial. In addition to providing students with experience in what medical technologies they may actually be working with, such as radioactive solutions which are injected into a person's cardiovascular system to identify clogs and blockages via X-rays, the practical instruction can reinforce the classroom material so graduates know both what the medical technology does and how it does it.

What skills do you need for a technical healthcare career?

Knowing if you have what it takes to make it in the medical technology profession before enrolling in a technical school can save you both tuition and time. Fortunately, the BLS provides a list of beneficial qualities that members of the medical technology profession tend to possess or need. The following qualities are compiled from multiple BLS resources on medical technology professionals across the medical field:

  • Attention to detail
  • Dexterity
  • Stamina
  • Stress-management skills
  • Compassion
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Patience
  • Speaking skills
  • Emotional stability
  • Listening skills
  • Physical stamina
  • Organizational skills

While the previous qualities are important on a medical level, they only encompass half of the job. The BLS also found the following qualities beneficial, as they relate to the operation and interpretation of medical technological devices:

  • Science and mathematical skills
  • Critical-thinking skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Technical skills
  • Analytical skills

Med-tech schools tend to be focused on specific education, with very little in the way of a variety of classes that could offer struggling students breathing room between difficult semesters and easier ones. Also, because these professions are in the medical field, students may be exposed to a whole new set of expectations, stresses and other contributing factors, potentially making these already focused classes more difficult.

Medical technology professionals should be prepared to interact with the terminally ill, the sick and those who are in pain. Individuals who are able to manage their stress and time may do well in this fast-paced, challenging, and potentially rewarding environment.

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
Bureau of Labor Statistics, EMTs and Paramedics
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fastest Growing Occupations
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Most New Jobs
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nursing Aides, Orderlies and Attendants

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