The medical field of medical laboratory science (MLS) offers the diagnostic services required to find and treat disease. A patient’s overall diagnosis is aided by essential chemical, hematological, immunologic, microscopic, and bacteriological investigations of their blood, tissues, and bodily fluids.
While other medical professionals (such as nurses and pharmacists) rely on this information to plan or carry out treatment and care for their patients, clinicians depend on correct laboratory data to identify diseases. The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that in 2020, clinical lab testing will cost $8 billion. The amount of testing is anticipated to rise yearly.
What Do Medical Laboratory Scientists Do?
A medical lab scientist conducts lab work. Medical laboratory scientists, also called clinical laboratory scientists or medical technologists, carry out a range of laboratory tests, guarantee the quality of the specimen and test results, interpret and discuss the significance of laboratory tests, record data, assess new procedures, and research the efficacy of laboratory tests. As you might have guessed, a lot of the work is practical.
They also carry out statistical studies to confirm the precision and consistency of testing, as well as calibration, maintenance, validation, and troubleshooting of apparatus. On test selection and specimen collection as well as the fast verbal communication of urgent lab results, they confer with healthcare professionals. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 14 billion lab tests are performed each year. The results of lab tests are thought to provide the basis for 70% of medical decisions.
Popular lab procedures carried out by medical laboratory scientists include:
- The Complete Blood Count (CBC) counts all blood cells, including platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells. A CBC is used to assess nutritional status, check for diseases, and determine general health status. It can aid in the evaluation of signs like weakness, exhaustion, and bruises as well as the diagnosis of illnesses like anemia, leukemia, malaria, and infection.
- A urine analysis examines the color, composition, and concentration of urine. Many illnesses, including kidney disease, diabetes, and urogenital infections are detected and treated by urinalysis.
- Blood clotting time is measured by prothrombin time (PT). With this coagulation test, you can check for five different blood clotting factors, both inactive and active. It can be used to monitor drug therapies that stop the formation of blood clots and to screen for anomalies in bleeding.
- Lipid Panel, which includes cholesterol and triglyceride readings, is used to assess cardiac risk.
Further tests can aid in:
- finding the aberrant cells that lead to leukemia;
- transfusions using cross-matched blood;
- evaluation of heart attack-related cardiac enzyme release;
- Detection of DNA markers for hereditary illnesses; and Identification of the type of bacteria causing an infection.
In addition to working in research institutes, forensic or public health laboratories, hospitals, clinics, and other settings, medical lab scientists also work in a wide range of companies, including the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. Depending on the workplace, working hours may change, but normally, labs are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many medical laboratory scientists will work a variety of shifts, including 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.
What Additional Professions are Available in Medical Laboratory Science?
A few further typical occupations are:
- Pharmacists: At pharmacies, hospitals, or outpatient clinics, pharmacists prepare prescription drugs for patients.
- Chemistry or chemical technicians: Chemists and chemical engineers benefit from the assistance of chemistry or chemical technicians who help create, produce, and test chemical products. They frequently work in laboratories in research and production sites, where they clean instruments, calibrate equipment and mix substances to get labs ready for studies. Also, they might gather data for studies, monitor experiments, and assess the outcomes.
- Forensics managers: Those in charge of forensics monitor, examine, and screen individuals who have a history of mental illness or drug misuse. To make sure the patient adheres to the recommended treatment plan, forensics managers may do drug and alcohol testing and keep track of progress. To give their patients the right tools and assistance, forensics managers collaborate closely with caseworkers, medical professionals, judges, and prisons. The status of their patient’s involvement with the criminal justice system may also be reported verbally and in writing by them.
What Abilities are Required of Medical Laboratory Scientists?
You need a variety of abilities to succeed as a medical lab scientist. They consist of:
- Communication: Both verbally and in writing, succinctly present your findings. Provide advice when medical experts ask for opinions on testing.
- Detail-oriented: Have specific information about the data, including its source, definition, meaning, origin, dependencies, and quality, among other things.
- Manual dexterity: The ability to safely perform diagnostic procedures, including phlebotomy, the use of chemicals, specimens, microbiological cultures, laboratory instruments, equipment, and computers, requires both gross and fine motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination.
- Visual Acuity: Distinguish between various hues and shades, and describe the clarity and viscosity of medical specimens, reagents, and the final products of chemical reactions. Be able to distinguish between differences in color, shading, and structural features when inspecting microscopic specimens. Read handwritten, printed, or computer-generated text, numbers, and graphs. To effectively conduct and interpret tests, one must be able to judge distance, depth, and 2D or 3D structures.
- Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health: Function in stressful circumstances for an 8-hour workday. being able to spot emergencies and respond appropriately. Easily and safely move about the hospital and lab. With normal or corrected hearing, comply with speech instructions. being able to stoop, bend, and stand; lifting 20 pounds; being in one place for an extended period; and performing repetitive tasks.
- Independent: Have the independence, adaptability, and flexibility to operate autonomously.
- Intellectual and Creative Thinking: Do intricate interpretative tests, be able to troubleshoot issues, and make wise decisions. Detect and fix testing discrepancies. Set priorities, operate efficiently, and be accurate within reasonable time constraints.
- Passion: A drive on the part of doctors and nurses to work in the medical industry and assist others.