Critical Care Technologist

The Job and What's Involved

Critical care technologists (CCTs) make sure the equipment used in the care of critically ill patients is safe, effective and used properly. CCTs may also be known by other titles, such as intensive care unit technicians.

As a CCT, your main duties would focus on making sure the equipment and technology needed to support organ function and maintain life is working and being used correctly. Your job would combine expert knowledge of technology and physiology with patient care.

Your work could also include:

  • Setting up equipment, connecting patients and monitoring the machinery as it is being used.
  • Carrying out regular maintenance checks of intensive care equipment and bedside.
  • Technical support.
  • Working with other health care professionals during life threatening events.
  • Advising and training medical staff on the use of equipment.
  • Negotiating with medical sales representatives.
  • Ordering equipment such as medical gases and fluids from the pharmacy.
  • Processing invoices, updating records and other routine administration tasks.
  • Managing the on-call rotas and work of other staff.
  • Transferring patients.
  • Researching, developing, evaluating and introducing new treatments and technologies.

The type of equipment you would work with includes:

  • Blood analysers that measure biochemical factors.
  • Dialysis systems that divert blood through a circuit outside the body.
  • Ventilators that help patients breathe.
  • Haemofiltration and other life support machinery.
  • Defibrillators and monitors that measure vital body functions, such as heart rate and brain activity.
  • Infusion pumps and syringe drivers that deliver drugs to patients.

You would typically work 37.5 hours a week, including shifts and an on-call system.

Some of your work could involve handling hazardous chemicals and substances, so you may need to wear protective overalls, coats, gloves, glasses and a mask at times.

You would work alongside doctors, nurses and other medical staff (such as physiotherapists, dietitians and pharmacists), often in pressurised and emotionally challenging conditions.

You would have a large amount of contact with very sick patients and distressed relatives.

Starting salaries can be between £21,200 and £27,500 a year. Advanced practitioners and managers may earn up to £40,200.

Salaries can vary between NHS Trusts. Pay in the private sector may be linked to NHS scales but could be higher.

Additional payments may be made for working overtime, or an on-call rota. Those living in London will also usually receive an additional allowance.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

You would find most job opportunities within larger NHS hospitals. You may also be able to find work within the private health care sector.

Education and Training

You will usually need at least four GCSE's (A-C) in subjects such as maths, physics and biology. However, many employers will prefer you to have higher qualifications, such as:

A levels, in subjects like maths, biology, physics and chemistry.

BTEC National Certificate/Diploma in Applied Science (including units in physiology, medical physics and electronics).

Check with colleges or universities for course entry requirements.

It may be an advantage to have some relevant experience through paid or voluntary work, for example as a health care assistant in a hospital (contact the voluntary services coordinator or manager at your local NHS Trust).

State Registration

This area of work is moving towards state registration. Once you are working as a trainee CCT you can join the Voluntary Registration Council, which aims to help members prepare for this – check the Society of Critical Care Technologists (SCCT) website for details.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

As a trainee CCT, you will usually receive on-the-job training and this may be combined with part-time study for a relevant qualification such as the degree in clinical physiology (specialising in critical care technology) – available through the City of Westminster College, validated by Middlesex University.

If you already have a degree (in another subject) you could add to your work-based training by completing modules from the degree in clinical physiology (CCT) and professional exams set by the Society of Critical Care Technologists (SCCT).

As a member of the SCCT, you would have access to professional development opportunities and the Voluntary Register of CCTs (which will help you achieve state registration, when this is introduced).

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A critical care technologist needs:

  • An interest in electronics, science and medicine.
  • Good levels of concentration.
  • The ability to work accurately and precisely when under pressure.
  • Good team working skills.
  • A responsible attitude to work.
  • The confidence to speak in front of people and demonstrate the use of equipment.
  • The ability to cope with distressing situations.
  • Good problem solving and decision making skills.
  • The ability and desire to learn new skills.
  • An understanding of technology and physiology.
  • The ability to empathise with patients, and put them at ease.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience, you may be able to progress in your career from CCT to advanced practitioner, and then consultant CCT.

Alternatively, you could move into a specialist field of critical care such as the liver and transplant work, cardiology, neurophysiology, burns, premature baby units, and respiratory physiology.

Get Further Information

NHS Careers, PO Box 376, Bristol BS99 3EY
Tel: 0345 60 60 655
Website: www.nhscareers.nhs.uk

Society of Critical Care Technologists
Website: www.criticalcaretech.org.uk

Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM),
Fairmount House, 230 Tadcaster Road, York YO24 1ES
Tel: 01904 610821
Website: www.ipem.ac.uk

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