Medical laboratory scientists use analytical procedures and complex instruments to perform tests that assist physicians in patient diagnosis and treatment, disease monitoring and prevention. Because the tests performed are so vital in medical treatment, the medical laboratory scientist must know not only how to perform these tests with scientific precision and accuracy, but must be well educated in the underlying scientific principles and clinical significance of the results. The principle areas of practice in the laboratory are chemistry, hematology, microbiology, urinalysis, immunohematology and immunology.
In addition to performing laboratory tests, MLS professionals also assist to interpret test results in conjunction with patient information, and communicate their meaning to other healthcare team members. They monitor quality, research and develop new tests and methods, and supervise personnel. Career opportunities exist in hospital, clinic and private laboratories, research, public health, sales and marketing, consulting, health administration and education. Students who become certified Medical Laboratory Scientists find employment throughout the United States.
In order to participate in a medical laboratory science educational program, students must be able to comply with program-designated essential functions, or request reasonable accommodations to meet these essential functions. Requirements include a sound intellect, good motor skills, eye-hand coordination and dexterity, effective communication skills, visual acuity to perform macroscopic and microscopic analyses or read procedures and graphs, and behavioral skills such as organization, time management and good judgement, even in emergency situations.
Students pursuing medical laboratory science should have an interest and aptitude in the sciences, particularly chemistry and biology. Laboratory work plays a vital role in the daily routine of the medical laboratory scientist, and while direct patient contact is limited, these individuals enjoy being a part of the healthcare team.
According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics , employment of clinical laboratory workers is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through 2022. Mean annual earnings is $59,460 (www.bls.gov; "National Occupational Wage Estimates", May 2013).
"Shadowing" is a job observation in your profession of interest. Completing a job shadow can help you better understand the daily work of professionals in your career interest area. The opportunity to see first-hand the environment in which you may someday work can help you to determine if it is a good match for your interests, skills and values. Job shadowing can also allow you an opportunity to ask specific questions you have about the career field and to interact with current professionals and interns. Other opportunities available to students to explore careers in health and the work setting of a medical laboratory scientist include paid work experience, MLS 111 lab tours, experiences in academic and research labs on and off campus, interviewing health professionals, and a wide variety of online resources. Please visit with an Allied Sciences staff member about the kinds of experiences that are right for you and how to proceed with them.