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Clinical Lab Technologist
By an allied health world contributing writer
Published: March, 5 2010
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Almost everyone may had the experience of having their blood drawn for one reason or another or even having to provide a urine specimen. But rarely do people take a moment to think about the “behind the scenes” work that takes place in analyzing those specimens to provide doctors and nurses with the critical information necessary to diagnose and treat patients. The important background work involving processing and analyzing specimens to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of patients is the job of a Medical Technologist, also called a Clinical Laboratory Scientist. Through the use of a microscope and other high tech instruments, medical technologists may analyze and run complex tests on blood and other specimens.
What different settings may medical technologists be employed in?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2006, medical technologists and technicians held 319,000 jobs in the United States. The bulk of these professionals worked in a hospital setting. Other possible settings for employment in this field include diagnostic and medical labs as well as doctors’ offices. Typically only large physicians’ offices employ medical technologists due to it typically being more cost effective to outsource lab needs. Some reproductive endocrinologists’ offices have full time lab personnel on staff due to the high volume of lab analysis they need to have completed in a timely manner.
Those medical technologists who work in smaller lab settings may typically perform a variety of tests and are referred to as generalists, whereas those employed by large labs typically specialize or focus on a certain area of testing. For instance, there are microbiology techs that examine microorganisms, clinical chemistry techs who specialize in the chemical and hormonal contents of specimens, hematology techs who test for coagulation and blood cell abnormalities, and immunohematology techs who prepare blood for transfusions.
What are the specific job duties of a medical technologist?
The medical technologist job description is outlined below.
- Collaborating and running instruments to ensure a person is healthy
- Blood banking such as cross matching units for transfusions
- Counting cells and looking for cell abnormalities in blood and bodily fluids
- Analyzing the chemical content of fluids
- Testing blood for drug levels to determine a patient’s response to treatment
- Looking for bacteria, fungus and microorganisms in a person’s bodily fluids
- Running rapid tests for illnesses like strep throat, influenza A & B, RSV
- Running polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis to test on the genetic level and to identify RMRSA
- Testing for parasites in stool samples
- Testing for illnesses, diseases or drug interactions that interrupt the body’s ability to clot
- Testing blood for immunity levels and stages of disease for arthritis, syphilis, mumps, measles, rubella, HIV 1/2, and Hepatitis
- After analyzing specimens, Medical Technologists relay the results to physicians
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