Clinical Laboratory ScientistJanuary 15, 2014
Clinical laboratory scientists are highly skilled scientists who specialise in identifying the presence or absence of diseases in a patient. This data is then provided to the relevant physicians who use it to determine the best treatment for the patient. Although clinical laboratory scientists are usually not personally involved with the patients at any point, they play a vital role in the process of developing a personalised treatment plan and providing customised care by generating critical data for identifying and treating several health conditions from diabetes and cancer to heart disease.
Detailed job description
Medical laboratory technicians examine and analyse body fluids, cells and tissues and identify infective microorganisms using sophisticated biomedical instrumentation and technology in addition to highly skilled manual techniques. They are experts in analysing the chemical constituents of body fluids, cross-matching donor blood for transfusions, identifying blood clotting abnormalities and testing blood for drug levels. All of these details help physicians to evaluate the efficacy of particular treatments. Clinical laboratory scientists also assess test results for accuracy and help interpret them for the physician.
Difference between clinical laboratory scientists, clinical laboratory technicians and medical laboratory technicians
Clinical laboratory science professionals are also called medical laboratory technicians or clinical laboratory technicians. However, there are minor differences between their qualifications as well as the job functions. Clinical laboratory scientists have a baccalaureate degree whereas Medical Laboratory Technicians (MLT) and Clinical Laboratory Technicians (CLT) have associate degrees.
The job functions of laboratory technicians are restricted to collecting, processing and analysing biological specimens, performing basic laboratory procedures, relating findings to common diseases or conditions and maintaining instruments.
While medical laboratory scientists have several similar responsibilities, their more extensive theoretical knowledge base qualified them to conduct more advanced testing, such as highly involved microbiological blood tests and molecular diagnostics in addition to conducting research, consulting with physicians, evaluating new test methods, evaluating and interpreting laboratory results and solving problems. Clinical laboratory scientists also are more likely to advance to management positions.
For professionals in this field there are numerous employment opportunities in a wide range of settings including:
- Hospital clinical laboratories
- Forensic laboratories
- Commercial or reference laboratories
- Law enforcement laboratories
- Transplant and blood donor centres
- Pharmaceutical or chemical industries
- Research and teaching institutions
- Public health laboratories
- Fertility clinics
- Biotechnology companies
- The cosmetic or food industry
- Veterinary clinics
Work hours vary considerably, depending on the work setting, but because most hospital and reference laboratories operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there is a lot of scope for flexibility in scheduling work shifts.
To become a clinical laboratory technician (CLT) or medical laboratory technician (MLT), you must first earn a two-year associate’s degree from an approved accredited programme. Before you can practice you will have to pass a certification exam.
To become a Medical laboratory scientist (MLS), you must have a baccalaureate degree and have completed an accredited clinical laboratory science program or medical technology program. After graduating as an MLS, you will also have to answer a certification exam.
There are various higher levels of training available for anyone who wishes to pursue a particular field of specialisation.
Clinical laboratory scientist salary
The average annual salary for clinical laboratory scientists ranges from $55,00 to $60,000 whereas Clinical laboratory technicians earn an average salary of $45,000 to $50,000 per year.
Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.