A Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT), also known as a clinical laboratory technician or medical laboratory assistant, is a skilled individual trained to carry out laboratory tests and operate laboratory equipment under the supervision of a certified medical laboratory technologist. They examine body fluid samples in a laboratory setting to detect parasites, bacteria, and other microorganisms that may be causing the patient’s disease. In order to diagnose and treat patients, laboratory tests are carried out in toxicology, hematology, chemistry, microbiology, and immunology. Medical laboratory technicians work in various healthcare facilities including hospitals, offices of physicians, research laboratories, health clinics, veterinary laboratories, medical diagnostic laboratories, and biotechnology companies.
Medical Laboratory Technician Job Description
A medical laboratory technician usually begins the day 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. At the end of the day, they clean up the lab equipment in preparation for the next day.
A career as a medical laboratory technician can be rewarding, but at the same time challenging. An individual must be able to work well in a team that can include scientists and physicians. Detail-orientation and patience are important traits of this profession. All information collected must follow the data protection act and patient confidentiality practice. The job duties of a medical laboratory technician include:
- Keep the laboratory and all equipment clean
- Prepare the laboratory equipment and specimens for tests
- Collect patient’s body fluids for lab test and analysis
- Analyze and record test results in order to issue reports that utilize graphs, charts, and narratives
- Perform blood counts and blood tests for transfusion purposes
- Assist medical laboratory technologists in less complex laboratory tests and procedures
How to become a Medical Laboratory Technician
To enter into a medical laboratory technician program, an applicant must first possess a high school diploma. Students are then required to complete at least an Associate’s degree, i.e. 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.
Because medical laboratory technicians do not have the same type of extensive education as a medical laboratory technologist, they are restricted in the duties they can perform, e.g. they cannot perform complex lab tests. It is therefore advisable for laboratory technicians to pursue further education to become a medical laboratory technologist.
Medical Laboratory Technician Training
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 Technician Certification
In most states, medical laboratory technicians do not require any certification; however, 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. To maintain certification, continuing education credits are required every year.
Medical Laboratory Technician Salary
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Medical Laboratory Technician Job Description SummaryHere is a short recap of the medical laboratory technician job description:
- Collect, analyze, and record body fluid samples
- Work with medical laboratory technologists
- 2 years of education
- Certification only required in some states
- 30% employment growth by 2022