Clinical laboratory testing plays a crucial role in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, also known as medical technologists and technicians, perform most of these tests.
Clinical laboratory personnel examine and analyze body fluids, tissues, and cells. They look for bacteria, parasites, or other microorganisms; analyze the chemical content of fluids; match blood for transfusions, and test for drug levels in the blood to show how a patient is responding to treatment. They also prepare specimens for examination, count cells, and look for abnormal cells. They use automated equipment and instruments that perform a number of tests simultaneously, as well as microscopes, cell counters, and other kinds of sophisticated laboratory equipment to perform tests. Then they analyze the results and relay them to physicians.
The complexity of tests performed, the level of judgment needed, and the number of responsibility workers assumes depend largely on the amount of education and experience they have.
Medical and clinical laboratory technologists generally have a bachelor's degree in medical technology or in one of the life sciences or have a combination of formal training and work experience. They perform complex chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic, and bacteriological tests. Technologists microscopically examine blood, tissue, and other body substances. They make cultures of body fluid or tissue samples to determine the presence of bacteria, fungi, parasites, or other micro-organisms. They analyze samples for chemical content or reaction and determine blood glucose or cholesterol levels. They also type and cross-match blood samples for transfusions.
Medical and clinical laboratory technologists may evaluate test results, develop and modify procedures, and establish and monitor programs to ensure the accuracy of tests. Some medical and clinical laboratory technologists supervise medical and clinical laboratory technicians.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a clinical laboratory scientist and a medical technologist?
None. Over the last decade, the profession has pushed to change its name from medical technology to clinical laboratory science to better define their role in health care.
How much does a Medical Technologist earn?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay of medical technologists was $47,820 in 2012.