Like other bodily systems, the gastrointestinal system is an intricate and often complicated collection of parts and processes. If you’re experiencing issues with your GI system, a GI medical team, which includes a GI lab tech specialist, can get your GI system back on track. A GI lab tech specialist performs a variety of GI tests and procedures to help diagnose problems or offer treatment for issues. Women make up nearly 73 percent of all laboratory tech specialists as of 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Schooling You’ll Need
While many GI lab techs have nursing educational backgrounds, you don’t necessarily have to be a nurse to fulfill the duties of a GI lab tech. GI lab techs include a mix of nurses and lab techs who have only a high school diploma, degree certificate or associate's degree. Employers often offer on-the-job training that lasts six to 12 months and teaches the specific processes and procedures specific to each facility, as well as general GI lab concepts. Some employers also require online courses that GI techs must take after hire and that cover GI lab basics. Not required for employment, if you’re a nurse, GI certification from the American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses gives you additional training and knowledge and looks great on a resume.
Along with education and training, you must be familiar with a variety of GI procedures, including colonoscopies, upper gastrointestinal endoscopies, esophageal dilations, endoscopic stent placements, biopsy and specimen collection. Because you work as part of the GI team, you should be able to relate to and work well with others and have excellent oral and written communication skills to interact with the patient, the patient’s family members and other staff. You should be self-motivated with great work ethic, as well as willing to work nights and weekends, as some GI lab techs must be on-call during off hours.
As a GI lab tech specialist, your main job duty will be supporting the gastroenterologist and the nursing staff in solving GI problems. Assisting the gastroenterologist staff involves setting up GI lab equipment before each procedure and cleaning up after each patient. Oftentimes, you’ll be working side-by-side with the gastroenterologist to be sure the procedure goes as planned. For example, with colonoscopies, the GI tech helps manipulate the patient’s body so the gastroenterologist can move the scope into the colon. You’ll also be responsible for patient safety during each of the procedures, and must maintain current CPR certification in case a patient needs it while under your care.
The GI lab tech specialist sterilizes tools and materials and assures the GI medical staff has everything they need prior to each procedure. You’ll also be responsible for maintaining the equipment, performing basic repair as needed, keeping inventory of supplies and ordering additional materials when needed. Other duties include keeping detailed records of procedures in the lab, maintaining patient databases and coordinating patient care between different hospital departments. Many GI lab techs also help transport in-house patients back and forth from their room to the GI lab.
Lindsey Thompson began her writing career in 2001. Her work has been published in the Cincinnati Art Museum's "Member Magazine" and "The Ohio Journalist." You'll also find her work on websites like Airbnb, Chron.com, and USAToday.com. Thompson holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.