11 Things to Know Before Becoming an Endoscopy Tech
Entering the allied healthcare field by training to become an endoscopy technician can be both professionally and personally rewarding. You’ll be able to assist patients with gastrointestinal issues while also working in a fast-paced and evolving profession that has an extremely promising future.
Being an endoscopy technician (also referred to as a GI technician or flexible endoscopy reprocessor) is an excellent choice for anyone looking to operate in a dynamic field. It’s also a wise career choice for those who wish to interact with patients, particularly in stressful situations. That said, here are a couple of things you should know before starting down this path.
1. Endoscopy Techs Need a Strong Stomach
The first thing you will learn is that working as flexible endoscopy reprocessor isn’t for the squeamish. The primary role of endoscopy techs is to assist in the diagnosis of gastrointestinal problems during endoscopic medical procedures. This could involve examining internal organs like the esophagus, stomach, intestine, and rectum.
Working as an endoscopy tech requires getting up close and personal with the inner-workings of human anatomy. The aim? Detect irregularities such as tumors or inflammation. It’s normal for anyone entering this field to feel discomfort at first, you’ll adjust to it with experience.
Endoscopy techs are sometimes required to be present and active in the operating room during procedures. Maintaining composure during surgeries is vital in order to be able to assist doctors and nurses, collect samples, and keep the work area sterilized.
2. There’s More Responsibility Than Meets the Eye
Many people assume that endoscopy tech jobs don’t carry much responsibilities. In fact, GI techs are integral to ensuring that all stages of a gastrointestinal procedure – from preparation to cleanup – go smoothly.
Endoscopy technicians disinfect and prep instruments that are used during surgeries and procedures. Part of the job is to also calibrate the instruments, particularly the endoscope (which is the device inserted into the body to examine the upper and lower GI tract). During these procedures, techs help physicians by handing out tools and instruments, as well as properly handling samples taken from patients.
The responsibility of endoscopy techs doesn’t merely start or end in the operating room. They process and intake patients, fill out paperwork, and help clean the operating room afterward.
3. GI Technicians Have to Be a People Person
Because the role of an endoscopy technician extends outside the operating room, being personable is also part of the job description. Endoscopy techs often check-in and escort patients to and from their GI procedures.
Putting a patient’s mind at ease falls squarely on your shoulders. They have to interact with – and field questions from – patients who are often nervous. It’s routine to speak with patients who are often disoriented due to the effects of anesthesia.
Therefore, having strong people skills and answering questions calmly will go a long way towards improving the patient experience before and after minimally invasive procedures.
4. It Can Be Emotionally Challenging at Times
One of the most challenging aspects for an endoscopy tech is keeping your emotions in check. Not every single patient you work with has a clean bill of health. It’s inevitable that you’ll be in close contact with severely or terminally ill patients, which can be upsetting at times.
While it can be challenging, it’s rewarding to know that you did everything within your grasp to provide the best patient care experience possible.
5. The Field Is Constantly Evolving
Something that a new endoscopy technician will notice right off the bat is that the technology used in GI procedures is always in flux.
You will need to keep up with trends in the field to be able to work with new equipment and instruments. Even endoscopy technicians with several years of experience under their belt read up on the most current studies and participate in professional conferences.
This additional education is vital even for those who have completed an endoscopy technician training program. Most certificate programs cover microbiology, anatomy, sterilization techniques, and endoscopy procedures. Most programs include internship opportunities that allow students to gain experience in a real work environment.
6. Your Working Schedule Is Fairly Straight Forward
Working as an endoscopy technician is not like working at a typical sit-down office job. A standard working day involves cleaning and calibrating medical equipment and instruments, taking inventory of supplies and equipment, and monitoring the equipment to ensure proper maintenance. This is in addition to working closely with patients and assisting your team during procedures.
While you have a predictable routine, hours might differ from the standard 9-5 workday. Much of the work as a GI tech is focused around scheduled procedures, so you will typically work early morning hours and in the afternoon. The upside of this means that there are very few late shifts, allowing you to get home at reasonable times each day.
7. Cleaning Is a Major Part of Being an Endoscopy Tech
In addition to assisting nurses and doctors during procedures, a significant aspect is sterilizing equipment and operating rooms. In particular, endoscopy techs must clean and disinfect endoscopic instruments that are used before and after each gastrointestinal procedure. Many of the instruments must be cleaned and cared for according to guidelines set out in manufacturer instructions.
8. The GI Technician Job Description Isn’t Limiting
One great upside about being an endoscopy technician is that you’re not likely to get bored easily. The wide scope of the GI tech job description means that you’ll be doing several tasks around the office or clinic.
If they work at a private medical practice or clinic, some endoscopy techs may double as general medical assistants or work at the front desk. These additional roles are often administrative, meaning that paperwork needs to be completed on a daily basis to ensure the smooth running of the workplace.
Because the duties and roles assigned to an endoscopy tech are constantly changing, you’ll need to be able to multitask to provide patients with the best service and care possible. It also means that you’ll always have something to do.
9. Prioritizing Is Your Best Friend
Working in a role as dynamic as this one means that you need to prioritize your tasks. This is particularly true when working in a fast-paced environment like a hospital.
You must be able to keep a calm head when there can be as many as seven procedures per day. Such a high turnover rate means there’s a constant stream of patients, as well as instruments and rooms that need to be cleaned. Having an organized system that keeps duties as an endoscopy technician prioritized ensures a smoother workflow.
10. GI Techs Earn a Decent Salary
Not only does it take a short time to complete an endoscopy tech program (most programs are completed in less than a year), but someone entering the field can also expect to command a strong entry-level salary.
Recent graduates can make an average annual salary of $36,224, while the top 10% of GI technicians earn up to $43,000 a year. That is a pretty substantial income without having to attend a four-year university.
11. The Field Isn’t Very Competitive
One major upside for anyone looking to train as an endoscopy technician is that there isn’t a ton of competition, particularly when compared to nursing and other allied healthcare professions.
Because the endoscopy tech field isn’t overly saturated with specialists, the need for specialists is expected to continue to expand. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics demand for endoscopy technicians will grow by 10-14% between 2016 and 2026.
Get Ready to Launch Your New Career
Working as a GI technician can provide you (and countless others) with job security and a sense of accomplishment in an ever-expanding industry. Working closely with other healthcare workers and patients gives you a sense of professional and personal satisfaction that you may have never experienced before.
To get started in a career as an endoscopy tech, get in touch with an experienced AIMS representative today.