This week, we are recognizing National Medical Laboratory Week to highlight the work being done in labs that’s making a positive impact on the healthcare industry! For those of you who aren’t completely familiar with the ins and outs of medical laboratory jobs, but may be interested in medical laboratory careers, consider this overview of the profession.

Quick Snapshot

If you’ve ever gotten your blood drawn and wondered who ran those actual tests, the answer is medical laboratory professionals! Their job duties are exactly what it sounds like: they work “behind the scenes” in medical facilities by running and analyzing various tests. Even though you may not necessarily see medical lab professionals at the doctor’s office, their jobs help detect, diagnose, treat and monitor diseases.

Types of Medical Laboratory Roles

There’s a variety of medical laboratory career paths and roles that one could choose based on education level and individual preferences. Some positions require a bachelors or doctoral degree, while others accept associate’s degrees and/or certificates and licenses. The overarching job ‘ladder’ in a clinical laboratory typically consists of directors, supervisors, scientists/technologists and technicians. Below are examples of more specific job titles found in the labs:

  • Medical Lab Technician
  • Medical Technologist
  • Cytotechnologist
  • Pathology Assistant
  • Histotechnician
  • Phlebotomist

Responsibilities of a medical laboratory professional

In general, medical lab professionals can be in charge of a number of duties including collecting blood samples, preparing samples for microscopic examination, and analyzing specimens to diagnose diseases. Other responsibilities include taking care of the laboratory equipment and preparing data reports that are given to physicians.

Typical work environment  

While the standard work environment for medical lab professionals is in an actual well-lit, sterile lab with high-tech equipment, the location of the actual facilities can vary. For instance, some professionals work in large medical facilities such as hospitals and clinics, but others might work for a lab that’s owned by a corporate company, a university or a government-owned space.

What it takes to become a medical laboratory professional

Working in a lab requires extremely detail-oriented skills. Most of the professionals who are interested in this career path prefer working with the science and technology aspects of the medical field, as opposed to working directly with others. Medical laboratory professionals also typically have excellent computer skills and an interest in working with medical equipment.

We don’t always see the hard work of medical laboratory professionals, but they have some of the most important roles in the healthcare industry. With this week marking National Medical Laboratory Week, take a moment to learn about and appreciate careers in the lab, and maybe even explore the career paths within the profession for yourself!

Are you currently in a lab role or interested in medical laboratory careers? Join the conversation below!

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