Author Topic: Any Medical Technicians or similar out there? Thinking of career change...  (Read 532 times)

cincystache

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I took a career assessment and radiology technician (either X-ray and/or MRI?) came back as one of the top results based on my interests/personality. I was wondering if there are any on here that can attest to the career and how it fits with a mustachian lifestyle?

I currently work full time as a "chemist" but I've gotten promoted into a more project management/leadership role that I don't like, hence the quotes around chemist... I've explored getting demoted back to lab tech at my company but they are resistant and I think I'm ready for a change anyways (been at the same place 11 years and don't really care much about the company purpose etc).

I'm wanting to change to something where I don't need to think about work outside of work, I just go to my job, work hard, go home, preferably a job with a lot of flexibility in hours (ie 3; 12 hr shifts per week or the ability to flex more or less hours based on my desire to work). Ideally I could even work part time into old age once we reach FI (probably about 7-10 more years).

Ideally I could find something where I could work for a little while then take a month off (or 1 shift per week) and then ramp the hours back up. Are there opportunities like this in the medical/xray tech world? I know other healthcare professionals can find these types of flexible part time/seasonal jobs but I wasn't sure if that was true for techs as well. I basically want to master my craft and just do my job really well then go home and focus on raising my kids, I'm tired of the ladder climbing BS of the corporate world and constantly thinking about work outside of work. Any advice, especially from people in the field or with jobs that offer awesome flexibility, would be appreciated!


SpareChange

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Re: Any Medical Technicians or similar out there? Thinking of career change...
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2020, 09:55:02 AM »
I'm wanting to change to something where I don't need to think about work outside of work, I just go to my job, work hard, go home, preferably a job with a lot of flexibility in hours (ie 3; 12 hr shifts per week or the ability to flex more or less hours based on my desire to work). Ideally I could even work part time into old age once we reach FI (probably about 7-10 more years).

Ideally I could find something where I could work for a little while then take a month off (or 1 shift per week) and then ramp the hours back up. Are there opportunities like this in the medical/xray tech world? I know other healthcare professionals can find these types of flexible part time/seasonal jobs but I wasn't sure if that was true for techs as well. I basically want to master my craft and just do my job really well then go home and focus on raising my kids, I'm tired of the ladder climbing BS of the corporate world and constantly thinking about work outside of work. Any advice, especially from people in the field or with jobs that offer awesome flexibility, would be appreciated!

I can only speak for my own experience, obviously, but yes, the qualities you listed are ones that I would generally say apply to the field. I've been an x-ray tech for going on a decade now in a mid-sized hospital. First two years I worked as a PRN, with no set hours and no benefits. Then 5.5 years FT. Now PT with benefits (5 days on/9 off...an admittedly odd schedule). Our dept couldn't make 12 hour shifts work, so we do 8's. Other places often do 12's. Weekend techs here do 2 16's. Work stays at work, and I rarely stay late. We have a good pool of PRNs, so it's pretty easy to take off, or trade shifts. Hope that helps. If you have other questions I'll do my best to answer.

cincystache

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Re: Any Medical Technicians or similar out there? Thinking of career change...
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2020, 08:18:45 PM »
@SpareChange Thank you for replying. I'm glad to hear I'm not way off base in my assumptions. A few follow up questions if you have time...

1. Is an associate's degree from a community college still the only required education?

2. Do you get pressured to take on more responsibility or get pushed into management the longer you stay in the role? Is your job pretty well stable in that you are doing the same thing now that you did when you started? (in my mind, this is a benefit, I'm looking for a clear job with no "upskill" yourself and constantly take on more and more responsibility and stress...).

3. What is a ballpark hourly wage both starting and after a few years of experience? Is this the same for PRN?

4. I would expect your pay would stay the same (maybe cost of living increases) since you aren't taking on vastly more responsibility as you progress in your career. True?

5. Do you have to deal with a lot of blood/bodily fluids? I honestly get queasy sometimes around that stuff which has kept me away from nursing or medicine but I am familiar with running lab equipment and I see the tech job as far less involved in the messy stuff. Correct?

6. What is your favorite and least favorite aspect of your job? Has that changed from when you started to now?

7. As a PRN can you decline a shift if you get called in or are you obligated to say yes to a certain number per month or something like that? Can you PRN in different states or do you need to get certified in each state you want to work? I'm thinking of opportunities to travel around the country and pick up work here and there as needed.


Thanks again for your perspective and any additional info you can provide here, this is super helpful.

Malcat

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Re: Any Medical Technicians or similar out there? Thinking of career change...
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2020, 05:36:02 AM »
I'm in the healthcare world, but not in the specific area you are looking for.

However, I can speak to a few things as the person who is an employer of many people in similar roles.

-education is a "community college" diploma. It's different here in Canada, but yeah, the same concept. No university required.

-no, I'm never looking at my tech staff for management, except in exceedingly rare cases where they've expressed a keen desire for it

-I think salaries are pretty regional, but here it's ballpark 50Kish, I don't think there are many raises beyond cost of living, if that. It depends on demand though, a similar field just jumped substantially in pay due to a shortage here.

-there is some flexibility, but not the kind you are describing. People can cover each other's shifts, but the patients need to be seen when they need to be seen. That's not negotiable, and someone who wants to be off for large chunks of time would quickly be replaced. Our schedules are also set months in advance.

As for if you get pressured to come in to cover, I think it would depend very much on the organization, how well funded they are, and how often they are short staffed.

One option for this would be to do only temp work, where you fill in for others who take vacations, mat leaves, or sick days. A lot of semi-retired technical medical staff do this as they wind down their careers. However, some do it full time as well, depends on your area and demand.

-I don't think there are a lot of bodily fluids in x-ray tech world, but there can be a lot of very ill people, which can be far more disturbing to some than dealing with the bodily fluids of largely healthy people, like a dental hygienist for example.

X-ray techs are also often the first people to see very bad things on patients and you can't say anything. It can be hard.
I would personally take a bunch of blood over being in the room with panicked parents demanding to know what you see on the screen of their toddler when you clearly see something that looks like an aggressive cancer.
No thank you.

-Something you haven't touched on is that it can be very hard on your body. I know it doesn't seem like it should be, but it involves a lot of standing and leaning in an extremely repetitive fashion. This wears on your body a lot more than you could ever imagine.

SpareChange

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Re: Any Medical Technicians or similar out there? Thinking of career change...
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2020, 01:37:17 PM »
1. Is an associate's degree from a community college still the only required education?

Yes, that's my understanding, but it may vary by state. Not all states require a license. Some programs have been integrating more CT education the last few years. My old program now allows you the option of taking CT classes simultaneously and finishing up 3 months later ready to take both registries. I would recommend that if it's available. Other modalities X-ray commonly leads into....MRI, mammo, IR/cath lab, etc. There's also industrial applications for x-ray, but I know nothing about them:). I've seen a few people go work for manufacturers in some capacity as well...sales, trainers for newly installed equipment, etc.

2. Do you get pressured to take on more responsibility or get pushed into management the longer you stay in the role? Is your job pretty well stable in that you are doing the same thing now that you did when you started? (in my mind, this is a benefit, I'm looking for a clear job with no "upskill" yourself and constantly take on more and more responsibility and stress...).

No, no pressure. Yep, same job. Opportunities exist for clinical peeps to move into hospital admin with additional education, but few techs are interested.

3. What is a ballpark hourly wage both starting and after a few years of experience? Is this the same for PRN?

It's going to vary by geography, possibly substantially, but I'll give my experience. You might also want to check out the ASRT site. That's our professional org, and they publish surveys every few years on staffing and wage levels by experience, modality, state/region, etc. I think we start new grads here around $20-22/hr. I was hired in with 3 years exp in 2014 at $26. I'm now just over $32. I only do x-ray. PRN...depends on the place you're working. My place just uses a flat $30/hr regardless of exp. Another hospital system close by bases it on exp. 

4. I would expect your pay would stay the same (maybe cost of living increases) since you aren't taking on vastly more responsibility as you progress in your career. True?

True. In my dept, we've all received 3% raises every year I've been here....except this one due to the pandemic. You can increase your money by adding/changing modalities, taking call (which can be mandatory depending on your gig), and working shifts with higher differential. This is totally biased towards my hospital-based experience though. When I was in FT hustle mode, I averaged 85-90k, working around 45/wk. Again though, n=1 here :).

5. Do you have to deal with a lot of blood/bodily fluids? I honestly get queasy sometimes around that stuff which has kept me away from nursing or medicine but I am familiar with running lab equipment and I see the tech job as far less involved in the messy stuff. Correct?

I work in a hospital, so I absolutely do. It's unavoidable. I guess it depends on what you consider "a lot." Not nearly as much as PCTs or nurses, no. But if the 400lb guy with leg cellulitis and/or gangrene needs help positioning for his foot series, and it's a safe bet they do, you're the one gettin' down in the humanity of it. It's also not terribly unusual to come off the elevator onto a med-surg floor and think there's been a collectively synchronized bowel movement. Occasionally cleaning the C-arm off after a hip surgery makes me wonder if there's an insurance billing code for "attempted murder."

6. What is your favorite and least favorite aspect of your job? Has that changed from when you started to now?

They're mostly the same. I like that it keeps me physically, socially, and mentally active. The variance on the first two, however, can sometimes exceed levels that I consider healthy for me personally. As Malcat alluded to, there are physical issues that potentially can crop up over time. This does depend on modality too, btw. X-ray has the most volume, so repetitive use injuries occasionally crop up in our discipline. Take care of yourself. Take the time to ask for enough help sliding the 500lb person over to the table. I've personally developed ongoing wrist issues...nerve compression and mild arthritis, but I wouldn't say most techs have. I'm so-so in dealing with people, and mostly work in ER, so the wide behavioral patient presentations can be...challenging.  Things I also like...minimal paperwork, no suit or tie, not a desk job...on an 8 hr shift, I probably walk 1-3 miles. Keeps me in a good mood. Technology changes over time. Generally this has made my life easier.

7. As a PRN can you decline a shift if you get called in or are you obligated to say yes to a certain number per month or something like that? Can you PRN in different states or do you need to get certified in each state you want to work? I'm thinking of opportunities to travel around the country and pick up work here and there as needed.

PRNs don't get "called in", at least at my hospital, unless they're taking a call shift, which is completely voluntary. Most PRNs have jobs elsewhere. We have an app we use to offer up or accept shifts. You can see the various shifts available, and request any that you desire. However, you are in competition with other PRNs for them. The lead tech makes the final assignment, and tries to be fair in distributing them. Techs will also just text you and ask if you'll work for them.  There are travelling tech jobs out there...I think the usual contract is for 13 weeks. My understanding is the travel agencies will walk you through whatever certification requirements are needed, but I have no direct exp with that either. Some hospital systems have a pool of PRNs that operate at different locations locally. Some places do want you to work a minimum number shifts per some unit of time.  

cincystache

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Re: Any Medical Technicians or similar out there? Thinking of career change...
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2020, 08:33:01 PM »
Thanks @Malcat and @SpareChange  both of your replies are extremely helpful, detailed, and funny. This gives me a lot to consider. I feel like I have a much better idea of what I'd be in for including the pros and cons of the day to day. THANK YOU!