Laboratory technologist by L.A. Cargill

Medical Laboratory Scientists and Laboratory Professionals

Health Care Careers

phlebotomy - blood tubes
Phlebotomy Careers
Blood Banking clip art by MS word
Blood Banking

Careers in the Medical Laboratory Sciences

After a mere four years of college and a year of unpaid internship, a Medical Laboratory Scientist with a Bachelor's Degree may begin to enjoy the true advantages of being part of a valued team. Of all the careers available in health care, none is better suited to independent thinkers and problem solving individuals - oh, and those who want to help mankind and save the world.

Medical laboratory scientists are respected, although virtually invisible, members of the health care team. Found in the lower levels of hospitals. In windowless rooms that reek of strange chemicals and body parts, medical technologists are hard at work. They must wear heavy and hot personal protective gear, which makes them look like visitors from space or mad scientists (take your pick).

The phone rings constantly as other members of the team must respectfully consult with lab techs to find out what is in the patient’s blood and body fluids. Some of them even have the patience to wait while you stop what you are doing and look up the information on the same computer that is available for them to use. Others just yell and tell the doctor standing right beside them that THE LAB LOST THE BLOOD AGAIN!

Lab techs get lots of overtime pay. The typical hospital laboratory is always open. That means 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. A med tech, lab tech and phlebotomist can work weekends and any or all holidays. The big advantage here is bonus pay and quite often, the hospital will chip in for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for free!

Due to the shortage of lab workers, medical laboratory scientists resist many job offers daily. The over 50 club, which is the majority of lab workers, must constantly plan ahead to train dwindling supplies of new interns, so that someday, retirement will become a reality. With generous 401K plans and excellent salaries, they have amassed an incredible amount of nest egg funds. Newcomers to the field are stunned to learn of some retirement funds approaching the $100,000 mark. Other interns are impressed that 65-year-old lab techs still know how to draw blood with newfangled disposable needles.

Laboratory Career Advancement

Phlebotomists and lab assistants start at the bottom rung of the lab ladder. Next up is a technician supervised by a technologist. Recently, the American Society of Clinical Pathologists merged with the other big certifying agency, the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, and they renamed all certified techs with the designation scientist. Above the scientists are lab supervisors, lab directors and Pathologists, all of which try to make health care as business-like and profitable as possible. Having scientists do more work with less resources seems to be a big advantage for laboratory management. With 20 or more years of experience, you too may move into lab management, if your boss should happen to get hit by a bus!

Job Satisfaction

Medical lab technologists love playing with bloody test tubes and gooey, smelly body fluids. Each sample of blood, urine or stool is a person that needs the immediate diagnostic knowledge that only a highly skilled and trained lab tech can provide. Job satisfaction comes in even the simplest of tasks, such as recovering pee that has spilled in a bag because a higher paid nurse could not screw down the lid on a urine specimen. Certified techs constantly learn to do new tasks and take on more and more responsibility leaving them with a feeling of self-worth that cannot be beat.

Educational Opportunities

Medical laboratory workers can look forward to learning and re-learning valuable skills such as how to operate a chemistry analyzer; how to crossmatch blood for transfusions; and how to dip a chemstrip into a cup of urine.

Current regulations require medical technologists to take competency tests continuously. On the job, personal urine drug tests are in vogue to prove that your local vampire isn't under the influence of illegal or harmful substances while they test your poop for blood.

Your lab manager will enjoy keeping track of all your competency tests and required educational hours and may even send you to a seminar on how to look for parasites in blood, urine and feces. That is if they can find someone to work your hours while you take off to go to the seminar. Many labs now participate in webinars instead because they can't afford to be short staffed.

Hospital Laboratory Divisions:

  • blood bank
  • hematology
  • urinalysis
  • coagulation
  • microbiology
  • chemistry
  • serology
  • toxicology
  • phlebotomy

Laboratorians can choose to specialize in specific divisions of the lab, or be generalists doing shift work. The designations for lab workers are:

  • MLS or MT - Medical Laboratory Scientist (equivalent to an R.N.)
  • MLT or Lab Tech - Medical Laboratory Technician (equivalent to an L.V.N.)
  • Laboratory Director - Usually a Master's degree or many years of experience as an MLS
  • Phlebotomist - A trained assistant certified to perform blood draws
  • Laboratory assistant - Assists in phlebotomy and/or clerical duties, accessions patient blood tubes and orders

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med tech shoulder bag
Celebrate National Medical
Laboratory Professionals Week!
medical technologist lunch bag
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lab tech smart phone case
Lab Smart Phone Case!

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