Clinical technologist
Laboratory & Medical Technical

Clinical technologists, who are also known as medical technologists, maintain, monitor and operate the high-tech equipment and instruments used to diagnose illness and treat patients. The different technologies used in modern day diagnosis and treatment span radiotherapy, bioengineering, dialysis, laser procedures, magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound.

Work Activities

Clinical technologists tend to specialise in one of two fields: nuclear medicine or medical engineering. In nuclear medicine, technologists prepare and purify radioactive materials, calculating doses and safe disposal while evaluating equipment safety levels. In medical engineering, technologists typically help to design, construct and maintain specialised clinical equipment.

Clinical technologists' typical work activities include:

  • Working closely with scientists and doctors
  • Checking cutting-edge equipment to make sure it works safely and correctly. This may include measuring materials for radiation therapy, for example
  • Fixing and maintaining medical equipment
  • Supporting the design and construction of clinical equipment
  • Examining components and using testing equipment to measure performance of the machine
  • Recording test results and scheduling follow-up tests

Most clinical technologists are based in National Health Service (NHS) hospitals, working within the medical physics departments, most likely in a laboratory or workshop. However, it's not uncommon to find these professionals in others parts of a hospital, including areas where they would have contact with patients.

Clinical technologists typically work full time (37.5 hours per week), Monday to Friday. If hospital-based, though, evening and weekend shifts plus signing up to an on-call rota will probably be mandatory. Local travel to manage and maintain medical equipment in hospitals or health centres as well travel further afield for conferences and meetings are also common.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for and attributes for clinical technologists

  • Technical expertise
  • Proficient in science
  • Ability to perform under pressure
  • Ability to manage a large workload
  • Emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work as part of a team as well as independently
  • Stamina and resilience
  • Manual dexterity
  • Budgeting skills
  • Attention to detail and ability to concentrate for prolonged periods of time

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of clinical technologists

As mentioned, the vast majority of clinical technologists are employed across NHS hospitals. But these technologists also find work in private healthcare, research, industry, i.e. in the medical device industry, and academic institutions.

Qualifications

Qualifications and training required

To practice as a clinical technologist you will usually need GCSEs and A levels, or equivalent, in specific subjects as well as a degree. The following qualifications are often required:

  • A minimum of five A–C grade GCSEs, including English language, maths and science or a range of good National 5s in Scotland to include English and Maths and a science.
  • Three A levels, 4-5 Scottish Highers (A-C) including maths or science, or the equivalent vocational qualifications including maths, engineering or science.
  • A BSc (Hons) degree in healthcare science, specialising in an area such as radiotherapy physics, nuclear medicine or radiation physics; a vocational degree in clinical physics technology or clinical engineering technology, either full time with hospital placements or part time while working as a clinical technologist in a hospital; or degrees in pure or applied physics, engineering or applied mathematics

It is worth noting that there are several degree programmes that will enable aspiring clinical technologists to access the profession, so the examples included here should not be accepted as the only options. The Practitioner Training Programme (PTP), an undergraduate training scheme which includes work-based academic learning, is another route in.

Clinical technologists may register with the Register of Clinical Technologists (www.therct.org.uk) when they qualify.

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