A medical laboratory scientist is a professional working in hospital labs that performs various tests. He or she is also referred to as a clinical laboratory scientist and medical technologist. Doctors make several decisions concerning the diagnosis of a disease and its treatment based on lab test results. A medical laboratory scientist (MLS) is responsible for providing precise data. They have to know when test results are not correct and should be checked again because these may have dire consequences.
These professionals perform pregnancy tests, monitor antibiotic therapy, and complicated testing which uncovers diseases such as diabetes, cancer and AIDS. They perform all this by operating complex equipment, expensive precision equipment and microscopes.
To become an MLS, one has to get a four-year degree in medical technology. Then, they can get a job in:
- Research and industrial laboratories;
- Hospitals; and,
- Service, technical development or sales department for medical supplies manufacturers.
Alternatively, because they are very educated individuals, the technologists can usually enter medical schools or seek other jobs related to health.
The qualified professionals are in short supply, so people who study medical technology can easily find a place where they can start their career.
Successfulclinical laboratory scientists havethe following skillset.
- Strong ability and interest in science
- Ability to work under pressure
- Mature judgment and the quality of being reliable
- An interest to solve complex problems
- A work ethic that is industrious
- A strong wish to help people
Some of the hospital laboratory areas in which they work are explained below.
In this area, a medical laboratory scientist measures different electrolytes and proteins, in addition to drug levels that are used to keep an eye on patient therapy. When working here they will inform the doctor several things. For instance, the amount of protein in the concerned patient’s urine, the amount of sugar in their blood, or whether they have a tumor or not. The testing is performed largely on automated analyzer devices. Chemistry is perhaps the most quickly changing and the biggest laboratory area due to the wide range of automation there. Some methods there are electrophoresis, nephelometry, spectrophotometry, electrochemistry, and immunoassays.
In a blood bank, clinical laboratory scientists have to be very organized and accurate. Blood bankers determine the type to which one’s blood belongs, and match that type to its donor units for transfusion. An error there can be extremely dangerous, because when the medical laboratory professional provides the wrong donor blood type, the consequence can be deadly.
Every person has different antibodies, which could just react against types of blood different from their own. Many have type O blood. Other types include B, A, and AB. Besides ABO blood types, people have an Rh type. One can have an Rh negative or Rh positive blood type. RH types of blood are important not just in standard transfusions, but also in pregnancy. A newborn with Rh positive blood may turn sick or pass away if their mother has an Rh negative blood. The laboratory scientist plays a big role in keeping these from happening. They can type that mother and find out if she requires Rhogam drug, which could just prevent the issues with the newborn.
A urine test is among the oldest existing diagnostic measures in the lab. Urine is thought to be made of blood waste materials. It is created in our kidneys, after which the bladder receives and stores it there before it is excreted through the urethra. The kidney of an adult can filter more than one liter of blood each minute. Much of this goes back to the blood circulation, and the urine made during a day is just a liter. Urine tests can determine many things regarding one’s health status. Some of the issues which can be discovered in the analysis are electrolyte imbalance, urinary tract infection, kidney damage, and diabetes.
In urinalysis, a medical laboratory scientist examines the urine’s properties like clarity and color, besides its chemical composition. This tends to involve tests for protein, blood, white blood cells and glucose. Finally, they examine the patient’s urine under an optical instrument called microscope and searches for bacteria, blood cells and crystals that should not be in it.
Bacteria are the main concern of the technologist in the microbiology lab. Various kinds of bacteria lead to infections. Determining what kind of bacteria is causing the patient’s issue and which form of antibiotic will work against it, is the job of the professional. They also look for parasites and fungi.
Infections can occur in almost any place of the body. That means the professional in microbiology have to deal with various kinds of specimens. They take and put the specimen onto plates full of nutrients for both fungi and bacteria to grow in. This is known as culturing. Then, they examine what gets bigger and use both the appearance of its growth and various tests to find out the kind of growing organism. The technologists will examine the growth under the optical instrument to determine which bacteria type is present.