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About MLTs

Medical Laboratory Technologists

Significant Points

Faster than average employment growth and excellent job opportunities are expected.

Medical laboratory Technologists usually have a bachelor’s degree with a major in medical technology or in one of the life sciences; generally need an associate degree.

Most jobs will continue to be in hospitals, but employment will grow faster in research labs, clinical labs and sales & application of diagnostic instruments and products.

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Nature of the Work

Medical laboratory Technologist plays a crucial role in the detection, diagnosis, of a disease. Medical laboratory Technologists also referred to as clinical laboratory scientists or Clinical Technologists, who perform most of these tests.

Clinical laboratory personnel examine and analyze body fluids, and cells. They look for bacteria, parasites, and other microorganisms; analyze the chemical content of fluids; match blood for transfusions; and test for drug levels in the blood that show how a patient is responding to treatment. Technologists also prepare specimens for examination, count cells, and look for abnormal cells in blood and body fluids. They use microscopes, cell counters, and other sophisticated laboratory equipment. They also use automated equipment and computerized instruments capable of performing a number of tests simultaneously. After testing and examining a specimen, they analyze the results.

With increasing automation and the use of computer technology, the work of technologists has become less hands-on and more analytical. The complexity of tests performed, the level of judgment needed, and the amount of responsibility workers assume depend largely on the amount of education and experience they have. Medical laboratory Technologists usually do more complex tasks than clinical laboratory technicians do.

Medical Laboratory Technologists perform complex chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic, and bacteriological tests. Technologists microscopically examine blood and other body fluids. They make cultures of body fluid and tissue samples, to determine the presence of bacteria, fungi, parasites, or other microorganisms. Technologists analyze samples for chemical content or a chemical reaction and determine concentrations of compounds such as blood glucose and cholesterol levels. They also type and cross match blood samples for transfusions.

Medical laboratory Technologists evaluate test results, develop and modify procedures, and establish and monitor programs, to ensure the accuracy of tests. Technologists supervise clinical laboratory technicians and other paramedics in lab. Technologists in small laboratories perform many types of tests, whereas those in large laboratories generally specialize. Clinical chemistry technologists, for example, prepare specimens and analyze the chemical and hormonal contents of body fluids. Microbiology technologists examine and identify bacteria and other microorganisms. Blood bank technologists, or immunohaematology 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 that may signal the beginning of a cancerous growth. Molecular biology technologists perform complex protein and nucleic acid testing on cell samples.

Work environment. Clinical laboratory personnel are trained to work with infectious specimens. When proper methods of infection control and sterilization are followed, few hazards exist. Protective masks, gloves, and goggles often are necessary to ensure the safety of laboratory personnel.

Working conditions vary with the size and type of employment setting. Laboratories usually are well lighted and clean; however, specimens, solutions, and reagents used in the laboratory sometimes produce fumes. Laboratory workers may spend a great deal of time on their feet.

Medical Laboratory Technologist generally require a bachelor’s degree in medical technology . Education and training Bachelor’s degree programs in medical technology include courses in chemistry, biological sciences, microbiology, mathematics, and statistics, as well as specialized courses devoted to knowledge and skills used in the clinical laboratory. Many programs also offer or require courses in management, business, and computer applications.

Advancement. Technologists may advance to supervisory positions in laboratory work or may become chief medical or clinical laboratory technologists or laboratory managers in hospitals. Manufacturers of home diagnostic testing kits and laboratory equipment and supplies also seek experienced technologists to work in product development, marketing, and sales. Professional certification and a graduate degree in medical technology, one of the biological sciences, chemistry, management, or education usually speeds advancement.

Although hospitals are expected to continue to be the major employer of clinical laboratory workers, employment is expected to grow faster in medical and diagnostic laboratories, and all other ambulatory health care services.

Job prospects. Job opportunities are expected to be excellent because the number of job openings is expected to continue to exceed the number of job seekers.

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