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What is Medical Laboratory Science?
Medical laboratory scientists, sometimes referred to as clinical laboratory scientists or medical technologists, are key members of the health care team. They are concerned with the study and practice of diagnostic medicine by generating accurate and reliable test results in chemistry, hematology, immunology, immunohematology, and microbiology. The results provide valuable information that is used to diagnose and treat disease.
Employment opportunities exist not only in hospitals and clinics, but also in physician offices, government agencies, industry, research, the armed forces and health related facilities. A workforce shortage of medical laboratory scientists exist and has generated a large demand for new graduates. In addition to immediate employment opportunities, many graduates attend medical school or pursue graduate degrees in science, management or education.
The Role of a Medical Laboratory Scientist
The medical laboratory scientist is qualified by academic and applied science education to provide service and research in clinical laboratory science and related areas of the rapidly changing and dynamic healthcare delivery of systems. Medical laboratory professionals perform, develop, evaluate, correlate, and assure accuracy and validity of laboratory information; direct and supervise clinical laboratory resources and operations; and collaborate in diagnosis and treatment of patients. The medical laboratory professional has diverse and multi-level functions in the principles, methodologies and performance of assays; problem-solving; troubleshooting techniques; interpretation and evaluation of clinical procedures and results; statistical approaches to date evaluation; principles and practices of quality assurance/quality improvement; and continuous assessment of laboratory services for all major areas practices in the contemporary clinical laboratory.
Medical laboratory scientists possess the skills necessary for financial, operations, marketing, and human resource management of the clinical laboratory.
Medical laboratory scientists practice independently and collaboratively, being responsible for their own actions, as defined by the profession. They have the requisite knowledge and skills to education laboratory professionals, other health care professionals, and others in laboratory practice as well as the public.
The ability to relate to people, a capacity for calm and reasoned judgement and a demonstration of commitment to the patient are essential qualities. Communications skills extend to consultative interactions with members of the healthcare team, external relations, customer service and patient education.
Medical laboratory scientists demonstrate ethical and moral attitudes and principles that are necessary for gaining and maintaining the confidence of patients, professional associates, and the community.