Tell me about working as a medical technician

Hi-ho –

Long story short, the job that Mr. S finally got four long years after being downsized from his 20-year career is headed south. Oh, he’s still employed, but conditions have become such that he doesn’t see himself staying long-term. (sigh)

So now he has to start thinking about finding another one. Here’s the deal: He’s 50 years old, so any extended education is out of the question, both timewise and financially. I can pay most of the bills, but we really need him to have some sort of income to fill in the gaps. Also, we live in an extremely rural area; any large city with a decent employer base is at least 40 miles away. It’s unlikely that he’d find a job in one of those at a pay rate that would justify the commute. And we’re not moving, for various reasons. So we’d like him to find either something close to home or some kind of self-employment.

So I’ve been skimming the local job ads, which obviously are slim pickin’s: agricultural labor, waitstaff, long-haul truck driving. Yuck yuck yuck.

But today there was an ad for “Medical Technician. Medical experience a plus, but not required. Willing to train the right person.” And that got me thinking.

Mr. S has always been level-headed when dealing with sickness and injury, both human and animal. He’s happened upon accident scenes a few times and been quite helpful: once helping the EMTs deal with a patient who had been in an ambulance that had itself been in an accident, flipping over several times; he helped them find supplies, get the patient on the chopper, etc. Another time he kept a girl with a head injury calm and quiet for about an hour while the paramedics dealt with more pressing problems. And of course, when I’m sick, I’m well taken care of by Nurse Hubby. So I think he’d do well in a medical setting.

He’s also good on the technical side; his previous job was as a litho stripper and then job planner for a printing company. He’s done fine hand work as well as handled intricate math and measurement. He’s very good with detail, organization, accuracy, etc.

Medical people, do you think this is something he could look into? Can you point me toward some possibilities? I think he’d even enjoy something like being a radiology technician, whcih might tie in with his camera experience in printing.

If this company is willing to train, perhaps there’s some sort of position he could train for that would require only a one- or two-year program. We have several hospitals and clinics within that 40-mile radius, and it seems that there are always medical jobs listed locally (although a lot of them are for RNs and similarly qualified people).

What do you think? Am I way off base, or is this worth looking into? Mr. S is really tired of not using his natural skills and being seen as just a lackey (school custodian), and I think this might be something to consider.

If he’s interested in becoming a licensed practical nurse, most programs for that are 1 year. You can also do an RN in two years if there’s a community college or similar nearby that has a program.

Many places are really desperate for nurses.

Really? I thought they got rid of LPNs.

My ex is a Medical Technologist, which means she has a bachelor’s of science degree and a board certification which allow her to do medical lab testing: blood work, stool, sputum, all that gross stuff.

While she was in school, she worked her way through as a Medical Technician. The two work closely together. Basically, Medical Technicians do a lot of the “grunt” work that doesn’t involve actually working with samples or reading results. Jill (the ex) used to receive samples from area hospitals, sort them, put bar code stickers on them, etc. She also served as a general roustabout for the technologists (“Jill, would you get some more bleach from the storeroom? Saline too.”). For her, it was a good way to earn $10-11 an hour while getting valuable experience in a lab environment.


Why would anyone do that? They’re cheaper than RNs and can fulfill a lot of duties that don’t require RN training. I work at a large research university and we’ve got buttloads of RN and LPN jobs. I just did a quick check on one of our affiliated hospitals and right now they’ve got 5 open LPN positions.

Yep, that’s what the technicians in our lab do. Basically anything those of us with college degrees can’t be bothered to do ourselves. They manage our samples, set up runs, and do a limited amount of preprocessing of some samples - chopping up tissues, that sort of thing.

And if you really want to piss off a Medical Technologist, refer to them as a Medical Technician. I know this from personal experience. I imagine they’re probably so surly about this because people are always confusing the two.

I dunno, I thought I remembered reading several years ago about how the LPN designation was being abandoned, leaving many LPNs with no place to go. Perhaps I was dreaming.

Gotcha, much the same as you can piss off an anesthesiologist (person with a degree in the specialty of anesthesiology) by calling them an anesthetist (any old gas-passer, with or without the degree; could be a nurse or technician).

(I’ve lost count of the number of people who think I’m a copywriter. I say “copyeditor,” and it’s such a foreign term to them that they just fill it in with the similar term that they do know, even after I’ve explained that it’s completely different work. Sigh.)

So from the responses so far, this wouldn’t be completely out of the realm of possibility, then? If so, cool.