A medical laboratory scientist is a professional who performs tests on body fluids and tissues for the purpose of diagnosing and aiding in the treatment of diseases and conditions. An individual who chooses to pursue this career usually works to analyze blood, urine, and other samples for the presence of drugs and chemicals, bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. Typically, a person who pursues a career as a medical laboratory scientist works in a hospital or in a medical office. Often, this type of professional is also found working in bio-tech laboratories.
The exact duties a scientist in a medical laboratory has often depend on where he works; these professionals are commonly found in many different areas of medicine. For example, these scientists may work in immunology, hematology, or even in blood banking. An individual in this field may perform tests to diagnose serious diseases, such as cancer. He may also work to help diagnose chronic conditions, such as diabetes, or to detect the presence of parasites, such as those that cause malaria. A person in this field may also work to ensure that blood products are safe for transfusions or to test blood samples for couples who are planning to be married.
Besides performing tests, a medical laboratory scientist may be responsible for confirming that the results are accurate. He also typically reports his results to other medical professionals, such as doctors, surgeons, and pathologists. He is an important part of a medical team because his findings often help decide the type of treatment methods doctors use for their patients. An inaccurate result could lead to unnecessary upset for a patient or even incorrect treatment.
In the course of performing his job, a scientist in a medical laboratory usually uses a range of electronic equipment and precision instruments. He often uses computers for his job as well. Since medical laboratory instruments and technologies are frequently updated, a person in this field usually has to spend a significant amount of time learning how to use new devices and tools.
In order to become a medical laboratory scientist, a person usually earns a bachelor’s degree in a related subject, such as medical technology, life sciences, or clinical laboratory science. Depending on where the aspiring medical laboratory scientist plans to work, he may have to complete an internship as well. Often, this type of training lasts for about a year. In some places, licensing or certification may be required or preferred. To become licensed or certified, a person interested in this field usually has to pass an exam and meet other requirements.