If you’re interested in helping medical doctors diagnose the problems of a patient’s gastrointestinal system, you could consider becoming an endoscopy technician. As a medical assistant, you work together with healthcare professionals specializing in gastroenterology to provide care to patients suffering from stomach and intestinal issues.
As the job title suggests, your main equipment for this task is an endoscope. This is a thin and flexible tube that is used to explore a patient’s internal organs. It has a light delivery system that can illumine the object being inspected as well as a camera on one end that allows doctors to view images taken on a screen. You provide assistance to healthcare providers as they perform endoscopy procedures to explore a patient’s gastrointestinal tract which includes the stomach, esophagus, small intestine, rectum and anus. Endoscopes can also be used to review the respiratory tract, the ear and the urinary tract, among others.
Aside from using an endoscope to take a look at what is going on inside a patient’s body, doctors may also use the device to collect a specimen for biopsy or provide treatment, such a removing a foreign body, cutting off a polyp or cauterizing a bleeding vessel. As an endoscopy technician, you also assist the doctor with these tasks.
In addition, you will also be responsible for preparing the medical instruments used for endoscopy. You will ensure that the rooms, instruments and diagnostic equipment that will be utilized for the procedure are clean and sanitary. You must strictly follow the healthcare facility’s infection control measures, clean the area and sterilize equipment after each procedure. During the procedure, you are on hand to provide whatever assistance the doctor or nurse requires. You may also be asked to get specimens, like stool and urine, from patients. You may also be asked to transport patients to the room where the procedure will take place, get initial data like medical history and keep a record of the doctor’s observations of the patient.
While the endoscope will only be used by the physician, you should still be knowledgeable about the equipment since you will be tasked with preparing it. You need to have manual dexterity which is essential in being able to handle the equipment with care. You should also have an eye for detail so you can prepare the device as well as the endoscopy area thoroughly. Since you will also be interacting with patients who are most likely stressed about undergoing the procedure, having a calm and reassuring demeanor is important. You should also know how to address the concerns of patients in the event that they have questions about the procedure.
Why Become An Endoscopy Technician
A career as an endoscopy technician gives you the chance to work in a healthcare setting without having to undergo the extensive training that doctors do. As in any occupation in healthcare, the chance to provide assistance and support to patients and their families undergoing endoscopy procedures also makes each day at work more meaningful. On the practical aspect, the outlook is also very promising for aspiring endoscopy technicians based on government data which would translate to plenty of job opportunities in the next few years. It also provides decent wages.
Endoscopy Technician Work Environment
Endoscopy technicians can work in physician’s offices as well as in the hospital’s gastroenterology and surgical departments. They are also employed by nursing homes and long-term care institutions. The work is typically fulltime. In facilities that operate 24 hours a day, evening or weekend work is common. When they are asked to be on-call, they will have to be available any time their services are needed. This makes their working hours irregular.
Endoscopy Technician Salary
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not specifically have data on the salary of endoscopy technicians. However, the agency’s May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report does have information for medical assistants, the general category where endoscopy technicians belong to. The mean annual wages of medical assistants is $30,780. This is higher than the $31,410 received by phlebotomists but lower than the $35,640 paid to dental assistants.
Endoscopy Technician Career Outlook
Again, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not gather data specifically for endoscopy technicians regarding the occupation’s job outlook. However, it has information on the career outlook for medical assistants, the general category which includes endoscopy technicians. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of medical assistants is expected to rise 29 percent in the ten-year period covering 2012 to 2022. This rate is much faster than the average for all job types. The demand will come from the increasing elderly population who will need the services of physicians. As doctors expand their practices, they are expected to employ more medical assistants, endoscopy technicians included, to help do various tasks. Another driver for demand will be the changes in federal health care legislation which will pave the way for more people to seek care.
Endoscopy Technician Degree
For entry-level positions, many employers simply require that aspiring endoscopy technicians hold a high school diploma or its equivalent and provide training on the job. However, there are also those who prefer to accept those who have obtained an associate’s degree in endoscopy technology or surgical technology. Medical assisting courses may be taken in vocational, junior and community colleges and lasts anywhere from one to two years.
Endoscopy technology courses teach students about gastrointestinal anatomy, physiology, procedures in the operating room, medical terminology, gastrointestinal bleeds and pathophysiology of the gastrointestinal tract. These courses provide instruction in the classroom and expose students to real world situations by providing them with the opportunity to undergo supervised clinical practice.
In addition, endoscopy technicians must also undergo Basic Life Support training as this is required by many employers. This enables them to respond appropriately to life-threatening conditions by providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other interventions that can save a patient’s life. A certificate can be obtained from the American Heart Association after one has finished two courses in the AHA website or after finishing a course in hospitals or community colleges.