They examine body fluid samples in a laboratory setting to detect parasites, bacteria, and other microorganisms that may be causing the patient’s disease. Laboratory tests are carried out in toxicology, hematology, chemistry, microbiology, and immunology in order to diagnose and treat patients. Medical laboratory technicians work in various healthcare facilities that include hospitals, offices of physicians, research laboratories, health clinics, veterinary laboratories, medical diagnostic laboratories, and biotechnology companies.
The usual day of a medical laboratory technician begins by setting up and adjusting lab equipment. Throughout the day, their tasks include collecting and receiving blood, tissue, urine, and other body fluid samples from patients. They are required to prepare these samples for routine testing through a microscope or automatic analyzer, which will give results detecting any abnormalities or diseases. The results will then be put into a computer for further analysis using graphs, charts, tables, etc. Some samples may need to be stored under controlled conditions for future use. In preparation for the next day, they clean up the lab equipment at the end of the day.
The career of a medical laboratory technician can be rewarding and also challenging at the same time. An individual must be able to work along well with other health care professionals, including scientists and physicians. A Medical laboratory technician must be patient and detail-oriented since there are the important traits of this profession. All information collected must follow the data protection act and patient confidentiality practice.
Education, Training and Certification
An applicant should first possess a high school diploma in order to enter into a medical laboratory technician program. Students are then required to complete at least an Associate’s degree, like a 2-year education program provided by a community college, technical school, vocational school, or university. There are also 1-year certificate programs available from hospitals for those already in related fields, such as nursing.
Medical laboratory technicians are restricted in the duties they can perform, like they cannot perform complex lab tests because they do not have the same type of extensive education as a medical laboratory technologist. Pursuing further education to become a medical laboratory technologist is therefore advisable for laboratory technicians.
Training programs aim at helping trainees acquire the necessary knowledge and skills they need to enter the workforce. Students undergo hands-on practice in real laboratory settings.
Medical laboratory technicians do not require any certification in most states but some states and employers may require a license before an individual can practice. Certified technicians usually have better job offers and higher salaries. Medical laboratory technicians that want to be certified should complete the accredited education program before they write the licensing exam. Continuing education credits are required every year to maintain certification.
Medical laboratory technicians primarily work in hospitals and laboratories including research specialty and veterinary labs while some may work in public health centers, health clinics, and biotech companies.
Typical Work Schedule
The typical work of a medical laboratory technician is 35-40 hours per week but they may have to do shift work depending on the facility they are working. Some laboratories are open 24 hours a day while hospitals are open on weekends and holidays so many technicians who are working in these facilities will have to work evenings, weekends and holidays.
Factors that affect the salary of a Medical Laboratory Technician
– Experience – Medical Technicians who just joined the field will start a salary at $25,000 while experienced technicians can make from $45,000 upwards.
– Education – Education is crucial in determining a medical laboratory technician’s salary. Although most states do not require a technician to be certified, employers tend to look for individuals with certification and in turn they receive higher wages.
– Location – Location is also very important in determining a medical laboratory technician’s salary. Salaries can differ from State to State. The highest paying state is Rhode Island.
– Employer – Working for different employers will result in different salaries. Generally, technicians working in hospitals have higher pay than those who work in medical and diagnostic laboratories. Top paying employers in this occupation are office of dentists, medical equipment and supplies manufacturing, junior colleges, pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, and computer system design and related services.