Critical care technology is a medical discipline that focuses on improving the quality of patient care through safe and effective usage of medical devices, such as electronic infusion pumps, advanced airways devices and arterial pulse oximeters. Although professionals in this career field have good jobs, this career is not ideal for everyone. If you have a huge interest in science and technology, here is how to become a critical care technologist (CCT).
What do critical care technologists do?
CCTs commonly work in a variety of healthcare settings such as general and surgical hospitals, ambulatory care centers and medical and diagnostic laboratories, some even work in colleges, universities and professional schools. Nonetheless, the typical duties and responsibilities of CCTs could include the following activities:
- Interacting with and setting up medical equipment according to recommended procedures, connecting them to patients and monitoring their performance throughout the process.
- Advising nursing and medical staff on handling various critical care devices and equipment.
- Researching and providing appropriate recommendations to doctors regarding new treatments and technologies.
- Conducting maintenance activities on the healthcare facility’s medical devices, often sending out faulty ones to repair technicians.
- Providing life support or first aid treatment services to patients in the absence of sufficient medical personnel.
- Dealing with medical sales representatives to ensure hospitals purchase quality devices that meet industry standards.
- CCTs working in educational settings help instructors and students set up equipment during laboratory sessions.
In the United Kingdom, full time CCTs in healthcare settings usually work 37.5 hours a week, mostly on shifts and on-call rota systems. Apart from interacting with machines in emergency rooms, they also work with hazardous chemicals, which require them to wear protective masks and gloves. CCTs also interact with patients and their families, doctors, nurses and physiotherapists.
This table provides the average basic salaries for beginning and experienced CCTs.
Average Basic Salary
Qualified/ Experienced CCT
Trainee/ Beginning CCT
Up to £40,558
Source: National Careers Service
CCTs in the private sector can earn up to £60,000 annually.
What qualifications do you need?
Because the competence of critical care technologists can make the difference between life and death, they must undergo intense training. To qualify for employment as a CCT, you need to complete the following steps:
- Obtain five GSCEs in Math, English and at least two sciences. A-Levels qualifications in three subjects, including Physics and Math may be crucial to pursuing a science degree.
- Obtain a science-based degree with first class or second class upper honors – good majors include microbiology, biochemistry and biomedical science.
- Complete the National Healthcare Services Healthcare Scientist Training Program – takes three years.
- Pursue a master’s degree in critical care technology.
Besides having the required education, these skills and qualities are essential to becoming an effective CCT:
- Detail oriented to set up equipment accurately without missing a single step that could have deadly consequences.
- Excellent problem-solving and decision-making skills to make the right decisions in a split second.
- Superior communication skills to share information with doctors and patients’ relatives, some who may be distressed.
- Determination to stay abreast of emerging critical care technologies.
To enhance your knowledge and professional skills, and get ahead in your career, you can become a member of the Society for Critical Care Technologies, which provides professional development resources. Also, you can pursue a PhD in a relevant field or enroll with the NHS Higher Specialist Scientific Training Program.
Given the increasing need for quality healthcare services, the employment for CCTs is expected to increase steadily over the next decade. Emergencies, such as natural disasters and car crashes will also increase the demand for CCTs.
With this information, breaking into the critical care technology field can be quite straightforward. However, you must possess a passion for technology and the desire the save lives.