What Does An Endoscopy Technician Do?
Endoscopy technicians are medical assistants who help physicians specializing in the field of gastroenterology as they use an endoscope to explore a patient’s internal systems, like his gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract and respiratory tract. Gastroenterology specialists perform these procedures mostly to diagnose problems in these areas and collect specimens for biopsy so that the best course of treatment may be recommended based on the findings. Endoscopy may also be used to perform surgical operations such as taking out a foreign body or removing a growing polyp.
Endoscopy technicians are knowledgeable about the workings of an endoscope since this is the main tool that they will be assisting doctors with. This device is a thin and bendable tube that has the power to look into a patient’s internal systems. Equipped with a camera on one end and a system that delivers light, an endoscope enables physicians to see what the problem is in a patient’s esophagus, stomach, small intestine and anus.
The main task of endoscopy technicians is to ensure that the endoscope as well as other medical instruments that will be used in an endoscopy procedure is maintained and ready for use. If an endoscopy procedure is scheduled, they prepare the room, clean the instruments and prepare the endoscope and other diagnostic equipment. They see to it that the equipment is sterilized before it is used by the doctor on another patient, always following infection control measures while doing the task.
In addition to preparing the equipment, endoscopy technicians also assist doctors while they are performing the exploratory procedures or doing endoscopy-guided surgeries, handing them the materials that they need or helping position the patient correctly. They also gather specimens like stools, urines and other bodily secretions from patients. They may also be asked to bring patients to the room where the procedures are going to be held as well as interview the patient to gather his medical history when instructed by the doctor. While the endoscopy procedure is going on, endoscopy technicians may also be assigned to keep track of the patient’s vital signs by utilizing different medical tools ranging from blood pressure cuffs to pulse oximeter sensors.
Endoscopy technicians are usually employed by hospitals and clinics and are often assigned in the surgical departments of these institutions. Facilities that provide long-term care and skilled nursing care also hire endoscopy technicians. Because healthcare settings typically carry out 24 hour operations, their work schedules may include graveyard shifts. If they are “on-call” they are required to be present any time the hospital needs to perform an endoscopy procedure.
Due to the demands of this profession, endoscopy technicians need to be physically and mentally tough. They must be able to do their work while standing for long periods of time. They should also still be able to work and think clearly even under highly stressful situations, such as when a patient suddenly stops breathing while the procedure is going on. While physicians are trained to handle these events, endoscopy technicians should still have the presence of mind to assist doctors to save the life of the patient. The ability to think clearly and critically during these times is also an advantage.
To prepare for these eventualities, employers often require endoscopy technicians to have Basic Life Support certification in addition to their degree in endoscopy technology or surgical technology. Facilities also prefer endoscopy technicians who have previously worked in an operating room setting and must have in-depth knowledge of endoscopy equipment and supplies.
Because they will be interacting with vulnerable patients, endoscopy technicians need to have excellent communication skills. They should be to answer questions and listen to patients air out their concerns. The support and listening ear that an endoscopy technician can provide often soothes distraught patients and their families. Since they will be taking down records and noting patient history, being able to write in a clear and understandable manner is also an important trait that all endoscopy technicians must possess.
As medical assistants, endoscopy technicians may also be assigned to perform non-medical work. They may confirm patient appointments, help clients fill out forms, answer phones and inventory the department’s supplies. When supplies are running low, they may be tasked with ordering what is needed and restocking the department’s medical equipment cabinet.