4 Interesting Facts You Did not Know About a Medical Lab Tech
Jul 9, 2019
When going to the doctors' office you usually see the medical assistant, nurses, and doctor, but rarely you see the people behind the doors of the labs.
Who is it exactly that works in the lab and what are they doing behind closed doors?
The professionals that are responsible for analyzing all the biological material for abnormalities and diseases are called Medical Lab technicians (MLT) or sometimes called medical lab assistants. Regardless of the title, they all have one thing in common, they perform the lab tests to help doctors diagnose issues.
While the job may sound pretty straightforward, there is actually a lot of lab work beyond beakers and test tubes.
Let's take a look at some of the more interesting facts about med lab technicians.
4 interesting facts you didn't know about a medical lab tech
1. Practically any body fluid or tissue gets processed in a medical lab
The results are virtually endless since all types of human samples come through a lab. Medical lab technicians analyze almost everything in the human body unseen.
MLT's examine all types of samples, but the bulk of their work usually revolves around things like:
- Analyzing proteins and enzymes to see how your major organ systems are functioning (i.e., liver, heart, kidneys, pancreas and so on).
- Examining your blood cells to assess if you have a bacterial or viral infection, leukemia or anemias.
- Looking for all four of the main microorganism areas-bacteria, fungus, parasites and viruses to determine which one of these may be causing the infection.
- Determining blood type and compatibility to ensure you are getting the correct transfusion products to minimize dangerous reactions.
2. Doctors rely on your analysis for diagnoses
Why we may think our doctors have all the answers, they don't. In fact, more than 70 percent of physician's decisions are based on laboratory results, per Quest Diagnostics.
There wouldn't be a hospital without a lab. Labs are essential in determining patient diagnoses, patient management of their disease and therapy and screening for specific conditions. MLTs may not be hands-on directly with patients but they still have a huge impact on their journey. Providers rely on the knowledge and expertise of MLTs to provide them with quality, accurate results so they can better help their patients.
3. Working in a lab means every day is a surprise
Any healthcare job is a little unpredictable. Just like a nurse never knows who's going to come through the doors of the emergency room, you truly never know what kind of specimen will come through your lab window.
MLTs have a variety of work to do every day. You can work in multiple departments or choose to specialize in one. There are lots of opportunities and it never gets dull.
4. Laboratory support is in demand
MLT's are projected to grow 13 percent through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is nearly double the national average of 7 percent for all occupations.
As promising the outlook is, employers are still struggling to find qualified candidates to fill MLT positions. In fact, technicians were listed in Forbes' 2016 Hardest Jobs to Fill. But why?
There is a large number of retirements occurring in our field and very few MLT's to replace them. Because MLT's work behind the scenes in the hospital, a lot of people don't know our field exists or the extent of what they truly do.