Medical Technician is a general term used to explain a range of technician positions that exist in the health area. In general, Medical Technicians operate and maintain, or assist in the operations and maintenance of, a variety of medical equipment and treatments. The type of equipment used and the health area in which they may be employed is dependent on the career path of each individual – a range of areas can be seen in the Specialisations list on the next tab.
Typical duties of Medical Technicians across all areas may include:
- Operating specialised medical equipment for medical tests or treatments or research
- Preparing patients, examination samples and equipment
- Monitoring equipment when in use and maintaining equipment
- Testing medical specimens/patients, completing associated documentation and reporting results to medical practitioners/specialists
Sectors and industries
Medical Technicians work in hospitals, clinics and medical research organisations.
Anaesthetic and Operating Theatre Technician
Anaesthetic Technicians prepare and maintain anaesthetic equipment and assist in anaesthetic procedures used in operating theatres. An Operating Theatre Technician provides general technical assistance during surgery, with additional support being provided for the patient pre- and post- surgery.
Animal Technicians assist in animal medical procedures such as surgical techniques, disease production, anaesthesia and post-operative care. They are also responsible for husbandry, care, management, record keeping, and welfare of all animal species held in hospital and research facilities as well as assisting in research with regard to strict animal welfare guidelines and legislation.
Cardiovascular/ Echocardiographic Technician
Cardiovascular/Echocardiographic technicians prepare scans that are reviewed by medical practitioners, specialising in performing: echocardiograms; vascular ultrasound, to examine blood flow and detect blood clots; or assist in cardiac catheterisation.
Dental Technicians have little or no contact with patients, but assist in the construction and repair of dentures and other dental appliances, create moulds of patient’s mouths, and develop and perform research into dental tools and appliances.
Dialysis Technicians operate dialysis equipment for patients with kidney disease and write reports after the treatment. They also assist in the calibrating, maintenance, monitoring and servicing of dialysis equipment for both in- and out- patients.
Electronics Technicians, also known as Biomedical Electronics Technicians, install, assemble, repair, maintain and perform testing of electronic medical equipment, such as infusion pumps, defibrillators, bedside physiological monitor systems, etc. They may be asked to adapt, alter or repair faults with in-use, life sustaining equipment and contribute to medical reports.
Heart/Lung Technicians are responsible for the assembly, operation, dismantling and cleaning of heart/lung machines in hospitals and for clinical trials/treatments. Heart/Lung Technicians may also assist in the operation of cardiac monitoring equipment.
Library Technicians are responsible for maintaining library collections, organising and maintaining databases and catalogues, assisting with patron enquiries, and liaising with other libraries. They have a strong focus on customer service and work under the direction of librarians. Visit the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) site for more details.
Medical Laboratory Technician
Medical Laboratory Technicians perform tests on blood, body fluids, or skin samples to check for the presence of disease using equipment such as microscopes and gas chromatographs.
Museum Technicians provide support in the preservation, maintenance and cataloguing of museum and pathological specimens under the guidance of curators and other museum staff.
Neurophysiological Technicians assist neurologists in the preparation of patients for, and conducting of, neurological testing. They use computerised electronic equipment to perform Nerve Conduction studies (NCS), Electromyography (EMG), Electroencephalography (EEG), Evoked Potentials (EP), Multiple Sleep Latency Tests (MSLT), etc. to aid in a variety of patient diagnoses or research.
There are several grades of hospital Pharmacy Technicians which directly related to the level of qualification and practical experience of the individual. Roles and responsibilities will also vary depending on the size of the department. Typically, Pharmacy Technicians assist pharmacists in tasks such as cytotoxic drug reconstitution, sterile production, clinical trials, information systems management, and the development of pharmacy support services.
Radiology and Ultrasound Technician
Radiology and Ultrasound Technicians take x-rays, CAT (computerised axial tomography) scans or MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging). They may specialise in radiation therapy to treat patients with cancer.
Sterilisation Technicians are involved in the sterilisation of hospital equipment and utensils to assist medical and nursing staff to provide surgical and clinical care to patients. They clean, disinfect, inspect, test, pack, sterilise, and distribute all types of medical and surgical equipment from operating suites and other clinical areas in a hospital. Sterilisation Technicians are responsible for maintaining high standards of cleanliness consistent with departmental Infection Control Standards.
Personal qualities for these roles will vary depending on the responsibilities involved. As many of these roles involve technical work with equipment, good manual dexterity and analytical skills, the ability to maintain high levels of quality control and make balanced decisions when under pressure are generally required. Additionally, to be successful in these roles you need good interpersonal and communication skills to be able to get along with patients, and work effectively in team situations, including interactions with medical practitioners.
Medical Technicians usually require VET qualifications in their respective field or a degree in science, medical and health sciences, medical radiation science or a related degree. Depending on the level of work, or if you would like to become a specialised technician, the education requirements will vary from a Certificate III to Postgraduate qualifications. More information on accreditation and accredited courses can be found on ‘Health Service Health Professionals (State) Award’ webpages or related association websites. For example:
- The Australian Institute of Medical Scientists (AIMS) lists accredited Medical Laboratory courses. It is the assessing authority for the occupation Medical Laboratory Scientist and Medical Laboratory Technician.
- Medical Radiation Science graduates may be eligible to apply for registration as a Medical Radiation Practitioner with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
Many, but not all, of these roles may be suitable for students whilst completing your university studies.