Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun
September 12, 2012
NeCole Gray is a medical technologist at Mercy Medical Center.
What does your job entail?
As a medical technologist, I am certified to work in the fields of chemistry, hematology, microbiology, urinalysis, and immunohematology (blood bank). In these five core areas I perform testing on human body fluids that include blood, urine, sputum, and feces. The results from the testing performed makes up 70% of diagnostic decisions made by doctors. I have recently become a full-time blood banker in which I determine the blood types of patients and suitability of blood products for transfusion.
What kind of schooling or training did you go through?
I went to a four year-university (Morgan State University) in which I completed two phases, a pre-professional phase and a professional phase. Each phase consisted of two years. During the professional phase I completed four clinical rotations at four different hospitals focusing on each of the disciplines. After graduation I took a certification examination through the American Society of Clinical Pathology. At that point I became NeCole L. Gray, MT (ASCP).
What inspired you to this career?
For a long time I just knew that I was going to become a doctor when I "grew up". I really wanted to touch lives. Over time I realized that patient contact wasn't exactly my favorite thing in the world, but I still wanted to save lives. After a representative came to talk to me about the medical technology career, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. I loved science and I knew that ultimately I would have to choose between chemistry and biology, however with medical technology you get the best of both worlds.
What do you like best about your job?
I absolutely love that I touched lives. They may never know who I am or what role I played in saving them but I can go home at the end of the day with a smile. The patient will never know that it was me who in their emergency situation got called to cross match units of blood and send them immediately because they were bleeding out. They may never know that I found abnormal cells in their blood differential alerting pathologists of a possible leukemia. It may never occur to them that I was the one to run their chemistry tests giving the doctor time to administer lifesaving drugs during their stroke. They will most likely never know, but I always will.
What are the challenges?
Challenges come when other health professionals in the hospital do not realize what goes on in the lab. It is almost as if they think their patient is the only patient in the hospital. Testing takes time, and if the most accurate results are needed for diagnosis, then everyone must wait. Keeping up to date with new testing technologies is also a challenge because it is such an ongoing process. It seems as if every few weeks there is a new test or new way to complete something. The medical technology profession is also in shortage, therefore many days go by where we work off of the bare minimum staffing, which is extremely difficult when it is busy.
A medical technologist earns $46,680 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.