There are many careers to choose from in a medical laboratory, from clinical chemist to pathologist. However, one of the most exciting paths is that of the medical technologist, which is why we offer one of the best medical technologist programs in Chicago.

What is a Medical Technologist?

The category of medical technology includes work in many areas of the laboratory, including blood banking, toxicology, chemistry, hematology, histology, genetics, microbiology, and immunology. The work of a technologist is purely diagnostic, and the particular specialization is determined by the branch of pathology a specific laboratory is engaged in. This will also determine the tools that will be used by the technologist.

Regardless of specialization, however, the main role of the medical technologist is to operate and maintain the equipment that is used to analyze a variety of specimens such as tissue samples, blood, and other bodily fluids. The technologist must also ensure that all tests undertaken by the laboratory are performed correctly and on time.

It’s worth noting that a medical technologist is different than a laboratory technician, with the former requiring more intensive training.

Clinical and Anatomical Pathology

When working in the field of clinical pathology, the technologist will perform and oversee laboratory tests on bodily fluids in order to detect markers for various infectious and non-infectious diseases. The bodily fluids that are analyzed may include blood, bone marrow, joint fluid, peritoneal fluid, pleural fluid, spinal fluid, stool, sputum (phlegm), and urine.

Anatomical pathology, on the other hand, examines tissues that are taken during a surgery or biopsy. Here, a technologist will usually work hand in hand with a pathologist, performing a variety of examinations including:

  • Gross examination, where the tissue is examined with the naked eye
  • Histology, where the tissue is examined under a microscope
  • Cytopathology, where a group of loose cells is examined under a microscope
  • Electron microscopy
  • Cytogenetics, which is a practice that is used to visualize chromosomes through a variety of techniques

Specializations

Some medical technologists will find work in narrower fields of practice, depending on the laboratory. For example, some may specialize in cytopathology, while others will work in genetics. Technologists can also take on specific roles or functions in the institutional setting of a hospital.

Some of the most common sub-specializations are related to transfusion medicine, forensic pathology, and organ-specific pathology. A technologist working in the transfusion medicine branch will be tasked with ensuring that the blood bank receives an adequate supply of blood. He or she may also be tasked with blood typing and screening.

Technologists working in forensic pathology will focus on the examination of anatomical and clinical evidence after someone’s unexpected death. It’s important to note here that the forensic pathologist is responsible for obtaining the specimens that need to be analyzed, and the technologist will run various tests in order to determine the cause of death.

When it comes to organ-specific pathology, there are numerous sub-specializations, such as cardiovascular pathology, endocrine pathology, and neuropathology. For most of these paths, the technologist would require additional training.

Interested in Studying to Become a Medical Technologist in Chicago?

If you are interested in participating in a medical technologist program in Chicago, contact us today for more details. We have a multi-skilled approach to our accreditation process that will give you a competitive advantage when looking for an entry-level position in a medical laboratory. Our programs include an associate degree and several certifications, all of which are essential to getting started in your career as a medical lab technologist.