A licensed massage therapist, front desk clerk, an independent birth doula, and a Brazilian yoga instructor may not seem like jobs with all that much in common. But for Shelly Smith, they were all steps in her career journey that led her to her home at UI Hospitals & Clinics as a clinical technician.
Journey to clinical care
In 2020 during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith began exploring new career paths.
“It was stressful,” Smith says. “Going into quarantine and having my workplaces shut down made me start thinking about what made practical sense for my career moving forward.”
That’s when she decided to apply for a position as a clinical technician at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. Now, a year and a half into her new career, Smith shares her experiences as a clinical technician and why it’s the job for her.
What qualifications do you need to become a clinical technician?
“You don’t need a lot of experience to become a clinical technician. Most positions only require you to have some patient-facing experience and a working knowledge of the medical field. From there, they will tailor your training to match your experience level during your six-week orientation period.”
What’s a typical day like for you?
“I start my day by checking my daily assignments, which includes a list of patients and procedures for the day. For each procedure I am paired with a doctor, a nurse, and, sometimes, an anesthesiologist.
“From there I will go to set up the procedure room, make sure everything is set up and connected correctly, and make sure we have all the equipment we need for the procedure. I will then help get the patient ready and hooked up to the monitors.
“I then will aid the physician in performing the procedure by handing them tools, collecting specimens, and prepping samples to be sent to a lab for processing.
“After the procedure, I will pre-clean the scope and send it to the deep cleaning processing lab before cleaning the procedure room and setting it up for the next patient.”
What specialized skills or knowledge do you use in your day-to-day work?
“I’d say it begins with patient care. As with any patient-facing position, helping someone feel safe and tended to in a situation where they might feel uncomfortable is a very important skill. Clinical technicians are often the first person in the room to set them up for the procedure, so it’s especially important that we be compassionate and thoughtful.
“Secondly, we perform many different procedures that tend to be shorter. This calls for a knowledge of a wide range of tools that each have their own level of complexity. This requires you to pay attention and have clear communication with your coworkers to ensure you’re storing and setting everything up correctly.”
What motivates you to do what you do?
“Definitely the rapport I have with my coworkers. I would not be able to do this job without their constant support.
“I also enjoy the diversity of the work that I do. As a clinical technician, I am always learning new skills and getting opportunities for learning unique experiences you don’t find anywhere else.”
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
“I find the opportunity to work in an academic medical center to be very rewarding. Whether it’s being able to ask the doctor questions to help you make sense of a process or procedure or getting to sit in and learn along with visiting fellows or residents, there’s a lot of opportunity to grow professionally.”
What advice would you give to others who might be interested in becoming a clinical technician?
“The range of work a clinical technician can seem daunting at first, but you shouldn’t worry. Between supportive colleagues that encourage you to ask questions and reach out for help to your personalized training plan, you will have access to all the resources you need to learn how to do the job well.”
Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do when you’re not at work?
“I love to travel, but I travel for people first and destination second. My friends are all over the world, so I go where they are or go somewhere with them. Locally, I love attending live literary readings, especially from the Writers’ Workshop. I enjoy the art and dance scenes, as well. I really hope to finally get a chance to attend the Examined Life conference the Carver College of Medicine hosts every year. I am enamored with the concept and the work they publish after the conference, so it would be amazing to attend.”
If you’re interested in taking the next step in your career, consider applying for a position as a clinical technician. To learn more about this opportunity to become a Clinical Technician I in our Digestive Health Procedure Suite, please use the links below:
90% Nights (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
50-100% (Monday – Friday; variable hours)
Please consider applying today! If you have questions, please contact UI Nurse Recruitment at 319-356-2285 or send us an email at email@example.com.
Shelley is the BEST!
Love you Shelley. You are so wonderful with the patients and to work with.
UIHC is lucky to have you!
Shelly is an amazing person. I’m so grateful to have her in my life. She has diverse experience, and carries such unique wisdom, I’m excited to see where she will go next in her career. I am very excited for UIHC to have her onboard.