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A Career in Medical Technology

 

What Medical Laboratory Scientist / Medical Technologist Do

The Medical Technologist performs a full range of laboratory tests – from simple pre-marital blood tests, to more complex tests to uncover diseases such as AIDS, diabetes and cancer. The Medical Technologist is also responsible for confirming the accuracy of test results and reporting laboratory findings to the pathologist and other doctors. Laboratory results account for approximately 80 percent of the information used by a doctor to establish a diagnosis. In their search for data on a patient’s health, Medical Technologists do much more than examine specimens through a microscope. They operate complex electronic equipment, computers, and precision instruments.

The Medical Technologist must recognize erroneous results and know how to correct them. They monitor, screen, and troubleshoot analytical devices including calibration, quality control, run-by-run assessment, statistical control of observed data, and recording normal operations. To maintain the integrity of the laboratory process, the medical technologist recognizes factors that could introduce error and rejects contaminated or sub-standard specimens. The Medical Technologist is also a trained Phlebotomist. Medical Technologists work in six major areas of the laboratory:

  • Microbiology – encompasses the culturing of body specimens to determine if someone is infected with a microorganism. Once grown, those microorganisms are analyzed chemically and microscopically for identification to determine the best course of treatment.
    “The Laboratory’s Garden”
  • Urinalysis – encompasses the physical, chemical, and microscopic examination of urine. It involves a number of tests to detect and measure various compounds that pass through the urine.
  • Chemistry – involves the chemical analysis of blood, urines, and other body fluids. Commonly performed tests include: glucose, electrolytes, cholesterol, calcium, protein, different enzymes and hormones, urine drug screens, HIV, hepatitis, therapeutic drugs, and so forth.
  • Hematology – involves the chemical and microscopic analysis of whole blood. Common tests performed in the department include hemoglobin and hematocrit, Total WBC, RBC, and Platelet counts, WBC differentials. Body fluids as CSF, Synovial, Pleural, and Semen are also analyzed.
  • Immunology – testing is utilized to determine the immunity of an individual based on the principles of antibodies and antigens reactions. Commonly performed tests are RPR for Syphilis, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, Ova and parasites, RSV, Flu A & B, and MMR.
  • Blood Bank – encompasses the analysis of blood to determine the blood type and Rh, and the type of antibodies that are present, and to test and issue blood products for transfusions. Like Immunology/Serology, the principle of testing in blood bank is based on antigen and antibody reactions.


 


 

Job Opportunities

There is an extreme shortage of medical laboratory personnel across the United States. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that the employment of clinical laboratory workers is expected to grow by 14 percent between 2008 and 2018, faster than the average for all occupation, and fewer than 5,000 graduate from accredited programs each year. The average age of the laboratory workforce is 43.7 and rising. In addition, the volume of laboratory tests continues to increase with both population growth and the development of new types of tests. Already a Medical Technologist, then Apply for a job at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.

Salaries

The national average salary for Medical Technologists is approximately $41,600 – $50,000 per year although salaries vary by area of the country. In general, salaries are higher in a hospital setting than in physician offices for MTs. “Median annual wages of medical and clinical laboratory technologists were $53,500 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $44,560 and $63,420. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,180, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,680.” (US Dept of Labor)

Certification

To be sure that laboratory workers are competent and able to perform high quality laboratory tests, the Board of Registry of the American Society for Clinical Pathology gives a national certification exam. When passed, Medical Technologists may use the initials, MLS (ASCP), after their name to show that are proficient in their field. There is also the American Medical Technologists

Medical Technologists may advance to supervisory positions in laboratory work or may become chief technologists or laboratory managers in hospitals. They can also become program directors of MT schools. In addition, manufacturers of home diagnostic testing kits and laboratory equipment and supplies also seek experienced Medical Technologists to work in product development, marketing, and sales.

Opportunities to specialize

All Medical Technologists are problem-solvers, like challenges and embrace responsibilities. They are accurate, reliable, work well under pressure and are able to finish a task once started. They communicate well and set high standards for themselves.

Medical Technologists specialty may use additional credentials, such as “SBB” (Specialist in Blood Banking) from the American Association of Blood Banks, or “SH” (Specialist in Hematology) from the ASCP. These additional notations may be appended to the base credential, for example, “MLS(ASCP)SBB”. A Medical Technologist who gains experience in one of the special areas of the laboratory has the opportunity to advance to a specialist level by taking a specialist examination from a certifying agency.

Skills in Medical Technology

In the United States, the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA ’88) define the level of qualification required to perform tests of various complexity. All Medical Technologists are problem-solvers, like challenges and embrace responsibilities. They are accurate, reliable, work well under pressure and are able to finish a task once started. They communicate well and set high standards for themselves. Medical Technologists have unlimited choices of practice settings. Hospitals, independent laboratories, clinics, public health facilities, and industry all currently have positions open for qualified Medical Technologists. Additional opportunities are available in molecular biotechnology companies and in vitro fertilization laboratories as well as in research labs.

 


For someone who chooses a career in the medical laboratory, the exploration never ends. Become a Medical Technologist / Medical Laboratory Scientist today!