What is the Role of a Medical Lab Technician?

What is the Role of a Medical Lab Technician?The main role of a medical lab technician is to diagnose and prevent diseases. The career outlook for medical lab technicians is excellent, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating that the job outlook will grow by 22 percent.

What are the Typical Job Duties?

Medical lab technicians are sometimes referred to as medical lab scientists. They are tasked with collecting samples and performing complex tests designed to analyze things like body fluids and tissue. The bulk of their work revolves around analyzing common body fluids, such as blood or urine, taken during medical examinations. They record and report both normal and abnormal findings. Examples of work they may perform include testing the glucose levels of pre-diabetic patients and analyzing tissue samples of cancer patients in order to look for abnormal cell growth.

Medical lab technicians also perform advanced blood assessments for blood transfusion procedures. They must accurately identify the blood group, type and compatibility through sophisticated lab equipment, such as microscopes or cell counters. They also use computerized instruments, in conjunction with software programs, to perform many tests. Medical lab technicians must report the test data and enter it into the patient’s electronic medical record. Sometimes, they may even discuss lab results and findings with health care providers, such as physicians.

Where Do They Work?

Over half of all medical lab technicians are employed by public and private hospitals. Some medical lab technicians work in diagnostic laboratories or for third-party medical service providers. A small amount of medical lab technicians work directly in the offices of physicians and for higher education organizations. Due to the time sensitive nature of medical lab tests, many hospital departments actually run 24-hour operations on weekdays and weekends. Because some samples are hazardous to human health, medical lab technicians must carefully follow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements for handling infectious specimens and medical waste.

What Education is Required?

There are many educational programs that offer medical technology programs. For example, universities, hospitals and career colleges offer medical technology training programs in the form of an associate or bachelor’s degree in medical technology or clinical lab technology (please see: Top 10 Best Online Health Science Degree Programs). These programs cover basic life science classes, such as biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology. Many programs also allow students to specialize in an advanced field, such as microbiology, immunology, cyto-technology, clinical chemistry and molecular biology.

What Licensure is Required?

Some states require medical lab technicians to be licensed. Most states require medical lab technicians to pass a basic medical lab technician certification exam. Most medical lab technicians have an associate’s degree in clinical lab science. There are a limited number of one-year certificate programs available from hospitals for health care providers who already have a degree. Advanced medical lab technicians, referred to as medical lab technologists, are typically required to have a bachelor’s degree and pass a licensure exam.

In summary, the role of a medical lab technician is indeed important. These health care professionals perform critical and time sensitive medical tests that help diagnose and prevent diseases.