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Laboratory and Diagnostic Health Combined Laboratory and X-Ray Technologist

Combined laboratory and x-ray technologists conduct routine medical laboratory tests, perform general radiography, fluoroscopy and electrocardiograms, and operate and maintain related equipment.

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  • Related School Subjects Communication Technology; Information Processing; Language Arts; Mathematics; Physical Education; and Science (Biology; Chemistry; and Physics)
  • Field of Study Health Care and Medical Sciences
  • Duties

    In general, combined laboratory and x-ray technologists:

    • collect, prepare and analyze patient samples
    • perform venipuncture (take blood from vein in arm) and capillary puncture (take blood from finger or heel in children)
    • perform procedures in hematology, coagulation, urinalysis, clinical chemistry and point-of-care testing (for example, glucose meter readings)
    • follow lab safety procedures and perform quality assurance and quality control checks to ensure the integrity of test results
    • explain radiography procedures to patients and answer questions
    • monitor patients
    • correctly position patients and equipment
    • operate diagnostic imaging equipment to produce quality images that assist in diagnosis
    • identify anatomical structures on radiographic images
    • follow radiation protection practices, regulations and philosophy to reduce risk to patients, staff and visitors
    • perform electrocardiograms and determine if ECG tracings are technically accurate
    • use computer programs to operate and report results from laboratory, diagnostic imaging and ECG equipment
    • provide general patient care and transfer patients as needed
    • perform administrative and clerical duties
    • maintain and assess equipment and instruments to ensure they are working properly.

    Combined laboratory and x-ray technologists work closely with other medical technologists, health record technicians, nurses, radiologists, physicians and other health care professionals.

  • Working Conditions

    Combined laboratory and x-ray technologists work primarily in rural hospitals and clinics. In hospitals, they work shifts and are sometimes on call. Safety precautions are required to avoid back strain and repetitive stress injuries, and reduce the risk of infection or injury when working with infectious patients, samples or hazardous chemicals.

    This is a physically demanding occupation. Combined laboratory and x-ray technologists are on their feet for most of their shift. They may be required to help patients move and routinely handle equipment weighing up to 10 kilograms. If a patient is unconscious or otherwise unable to move, technologists ask other health care workers for help moving the patient.

  • Personal

    Combined laboratory and x-ray technologists need the following characteristics:

    • a sense of responsibility and a high degree of integrity
    • sensitivity to the needs of ill and injured people
    • good health with no predisposition to back or leg problems
    • excellent communication and interpersonal skills
    • good organizational skills
    • the ability to do detailed work and maintain a high level of accuracy
    • good colour and form perception (for example, to study blood cells)
    • the ability to work independently as well as in a team environment.

    They should enjoy compiling test results and patient data, setting up and operating sophisticated medical equipment, and working with the public and other health care professionals.

  • Education

    In Alberta, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton offers a two year Combined Laboratory and X-Ray Technology program. The entrance requirement is a minimum of 60 per cent in English Language Arts 30-1, Pure Chemistry 30, Biology 30 and Pure Math 30 (or equivalent). Basic computer skills must be acquired by the student prior to admission. This is a quota program so higher marks are generally required to gain admission. A criminal record check is required prior to practicum placement.

    For current information about the program, admission requirements and mature student admission, please check the NAIT calendar or website.

    For more information about programs in laboratory technology and x-ray technology, see the Medical Laboratory Technologist and Radiological Technologist occupational profiles.

  • Advancement

    Most combined laboratory and x-ray technologists are employed in small, often rural, hospitals that have 15 to 60 beds. Some are employed in larger hospitals, healthcare centres, private or public clinics.

    Combined laboratory and x-ray technologists work in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry.

    The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

    • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
    • location in Alberta
    • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
    • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
    • size of the occupation.

    Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next ten years.

  • Salary

    According to the 2009 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the:

    • Medical Laboratory Technologists and Pathologists' Assistants group earned from $27.18 to $40.50 an hour. The average wage was $34.24 an hour.
    • Medical Radiation Technologists occupational group earned from $27.18 to $42.71 an hour. The average wage was $34.45 an hour.

    For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.

  • Other Sources

    Post-secondary institution calendars and websites (see Educational Requirements above)

    EDinfo website: www.alis.alberta.ca/edinfo

    Alberta College of Combined Laboratory and X-Ray Technicians (AACLXT) website: www.acclxt.ca

    Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website: www.hsaa.ca