What is a Clinical Laboratory Technician?
A Clinical Laboratory Technician (also called as a Medical Laboratory Scientist or MLS) can be defined as a medical professional responsible for diagnosing body fluids (such as urine, blood, sputum, cerebrospinal fluid or CSF, stool, pericardial fluid, peritoneal fluid, synovial fluid and the like) to understand their chemical , immunologic, , hematological,microscopic & bacteriological characteristics. A clinical laboratory technician is required at clinical laboratories, hospitals, doctor’s clinics, reference labs, & biotechnology labs. A clinical laboratory technician often assists fellow doctors & nurses in selecting the right lab tests & proper collection means.
A clinical laboratory scientist is also responsible for recognizing anomalies in instrumentation and must perform calibrations, equipment validations, quality controls, statistical control of observed data, “STAT” or run-by-run assessment, & record normal operations at regular intervals.
As important aids and tools, a clinical laboratory technician often makes use of advanced laboratory techniques (complex electronic equipment, computers, and precision instruments) like manual white blood cell differentials, bone marrow counts, analysis via microscopy, and advanced analytical equipment and the likes for human fluid analysis.
Some common medical examinations performed by clinical laboratory technician are, but may not be limited to:
- · Complete Blood Count (CBC)
- · Electrolyte Panel
- · Comprehensive Metabolic Panel(CMP)
- · Urinalysis
- · Blood type
- · Renal Function Tests (RFT)
- · Liver Function Tests (LFT)
- · Coagulation Profile
- · Thyroid Function Test(TFT)
- · Semen analysis – for fertility & post-vasectomy studies
- · Lipid Profile
- · Serological studies & routine cultures
Any person who desires to be a medical laboratory technician must undergo a 4 year bachelor’s (comprising of theory classes in the related field, lab work and clinical rotations) degree in medical laboratory science, clinical laboratory science, medical technology or in a life science (biology, biochemistry, etc.). During the course of clinical rotations, although not compensated, a student is usually required to complete 40 hours of work per week for 20 to 52 weeks.
Career of a Clinical Laboratory Technician
There are a variety of job profiles on offer for a clinical laboratory technician, right from chemistry, blood banking, hematology and immunology to histology and even microbiology. As a part of the daily work, a clinical laboratory technician may be required to perform a wide variety of diagnostic laboratory tests – like simple prenatal blood tests, to complex tests that report illnesses like AIDS / HIV, diabetes, & cancer. A clinical laboratory scientist is also accountable for approving the accuracy of the results of the diagnostic tests and also for reporting the test findings to the concerned pathologists & other physicians.
The average annual wages of clinical laboratory technicians working across the globe were found to be $53,500 as per a 2010 report. While those falling in the middle earned $44,560 to $63,420 yearly, those falling in the lowest category earned less than $36,180 yearly. The highest earning category of clinical laboratory technicians earned more than a whopping $74,680 yearly!
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