Careers in Medical Laboratory
Careers in Medical Laboratory
Laboratory careers include Medical Laboratory Technicians and Medical Laboratory Scientists. Lab professionals can also specialize in a specific healthcare function or aspect.
Medical Laboratory Technicians
The job duties for this career include:
- Collect blood, examine and analyze body fluids, tissues and cells;
- Look for bacteria, parasites, or other microorganisms;
- Analyze the chemical content of fluids;
- Match blood for transfusions and test for blood drug levels to show how a patient is responding to treatment.
- Prepare specimens for examination
- Count cells and look for abnormal cells.
- Work with automated equipment and instruments that perform a number of tests simultaneously
- Work with microscopes, cell counters and other kinds of sophisticated laboratory equipment to perform tests.
- Analyze test results and report them to physicians.
Medical laboratory technicians are required to have a strong knowledge of chemistry, biology and medicine. They also need good reading comprehension, listening, and speaking skills. They should be able to perform routine maintenance on technical laboratory equipment, and stay up to date with new developments in their field and apply new knowledge to their work. The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) provides in-depth information about the skill, knowledge, and ability requirements for medical laboratory technicians.
Medical Laboratory Scientists
Medical laboratory scientists perform all medical laboratory technician duties, plus:
- Perform complex chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic, molecular and bacteriological tests;
- Microscopically examine blood and other body fluids;
- Make cultures of body fluid and tissue samples to determine the presence of bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and other microorganisms;
- Analyze samples for chemical content or chemical reaction and determine concentrations of over 400 separate compounds such as blood glucose and cholesterol;
- Type and cross match blood samples for transfusions; type white cells and tissues for bone marrow or organ transplants.
Medical laboratory scientists also evaluate test results, develop and modify procedures, and establish and monitor programs to ensure the accuracy of tests. Some supervise clinical laboratory technicians.
These professionals must have a strong knowledge of biology and chemistry. Many also need solid customer and personal service skills. They must be good listeners and critical thinkers. People working in these careers must be precise and accurate, as they spend a lot of time documenting and recording information. The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) provides in-depth information about the skill, knowledge, and ability requirements for medical laboratory scientists.
Other Laboratory Specialists
Specialized laboratory careers include:
- Clinical Chemistry Technologists – prepare specimens and analyze the chemical and hormonal contents of body fluids.
- Microbiology Technologists – examine and identify bacteria and other microorganisms.
- Blood Bank Technologists – collect type and prepare blood and its components for transfusions.
- Immunology Technologists – examine elements of the human immune system and its response to foreign bodies.
- Cytotechnologists – prepare slides of body cells and examine these cells microscopically for abnormalities and may signal the beginning of a cancerous growth.
- Molecular Biology Technologists – perform complex protein and nucleic acid testing on cell samples.
- Clinical Hematology Technologist – perform testing to evaluate blood cells.
- Phlebotomists – collect blood samples.
- Histotechnicans – cut and stain tissue for microscopic examinations.