April 25, 2022

Understanding the world of Medical Laboratory Professionals

This year marks the 47th annual Laboratory Professionals Week. Lab week was founded in 1975 by the American Society for Medical Technology, now called the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS). Celebration of National Medical Laboratory Week throughout the United States increases public awareness of the profession. A variety of professions work together in concert to generate accurate laboratory data.

Contrary to TV pop culture, working in a modern laboratory doesn’t resemble what you see on CSI. We don’t use elaborate light wands, and colored dust sprinkles to collect our specimens. There’s no master computer to provide a diagnosis or an all-knowing lab guru running the entire lab and multiple sophisticated instruments. Our reality is much different. We’re a team of patient caregivers who work behind the scenes examining human specimens rather than human beings. We use technologically advanced equipment and deductive reasoning and clinical expertise to arrive at result interpretations.

It’s not uncommon for a single tissue or blood specimen to pass through the hands and eyes of many laboratorians before final results are produced that will assist in determining the patient’s diagnosis and course of treatment.

There are approximately 335,500 practitioners of Medical Laboratory Science in the United States. Employment is expected to grow 11% from 2020 to 2030. This career group was developed in the 1920s. Today, Medical Laboratory Professionals are integral, critical members of the healthcare team. Although you may rarely meet them, lab professionals play a vital role in diagnosing and preventing disease.

Roles within the laboratory are based on a career ladder of academic and technical milestones. Education required for credentialing ranges may include certificates, two year degrees, four year degrees, Masters, and beyond. Some staff chooses to specialize and work towards a specialty certification. In no particular order, the following are some roles at Mission:

  • Medical Laboratory Scientists
  • Medical Laboratory Technicians
  • Histotechnologists
  • Phlebotomists
  • Clinical Laboratory/Pathology Assistants
  • Client Services Representatives
  • Specimen Management Technicians
  • Billing and registration staff
  • Couriers
  • Support and information Technology staff

Approximately 80% of all clinical diagnoses made by a physician are dependent on laboratory test results. Highly educated Medical Laboratory Professionals perform these tests: laboratory testing encompasses such disciplines as clinical chemistry, hematology, immunology, immunohematology (blood bank), microbiology, molecular biology, and Pathology.

Remember, the health and protection of all Americans depend upon educated minds and trained hands. Thank you to all laboratory professionals for contributing to society’s health and well-being.