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Medical Laboratory Technologist

Job Description

Medical Laboratory Technologists are like detectives. By taking samples of patients' tissues and bodily fluids, and carefully testing them, they help doctors detect and diagnose illness. They use microscopes, chemical analyzers and other high-tech instruments to carry out tests.

Medical Laboratory Technologists analyze and interpret the results of the tests. This requires an in-depth understanding of the biological and chemical sciences. Whatever they find they convey to the patient's doctor.

Interesting Facts

  • 80% of decisions doctor's make regarding patient care are based on diagnostic lab test results
  • 70% of a person's medical file is comprised of medical laboratory tests.
  • The Nova Scotia College of Medical Laboratory Technologists currently represents about 1,000 licensed technologists in the health care and private sector.

Working Conditions

Because most laboratories operate 18 or even 24 hours a day, many technologists have to do a lot of shift work. Evening and weekend work is common. Full-time Medical Laboratory Technologists work between 35 and 45 hours a week. Part-time employment may be available.

Medical Laboratory Technologists work in hospitals, private sector medical laboratories, pharmaceutical firms and research institutes. A few work in police forensic laboratories.

Medical Laboratory Technologists can find work in virtually any country in the world.

Earnings

. $38 000 - $46 000 per year.

Requirements

(a) Personal Characteristics

Medical Laboratory Technologists should be flexible and hard-working. They must have strong manual and technical skills. People skills are also necessary to get along with co-workers, other health professionals, and deal effectively with patients.

(b) High School

A high school diploma with an emphasis on English, biology, physics, chemistry, computer science and math is an essential beginning. Admission requirements for post-secondary education should be checked carefully.

(c) Post Secondary

Some colleges offer training programs for Medical Laboratory Assistants, another health care profession related to Medical Laboratory Technologists. These programs last approximately 6-months to one year and may include a clinical placement. This program is currently offered at NSCC Marconi Campus, Sydney.

Medical Laboratory Technologists need a two - three year diploma program in Medical Lab Technology at a college or university or a bachelor's degree in Medical Laboratory Science. Both routes require a supervised clinical or practical training period. By 2007, Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) , at the new Halifax campus, will be offering this program as a 2-year diploma program.

(d) Certification

After graduation from post-secondary training in Medical Laboratory technology you must successfully complete the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) national exams. Up to date information is available on their website, www.csmls.org.

(e) Licensure

In order to practice in Nova Scotia, you must have successfully completed the exam for CSMLS and register with the Nova Scotia College of Medical Laboratory Technologists (NSCMLT). For more information visit www.nscmlt.org.

Future Prospects

The CSMLS states that Medical Laboratory Science jobs are on the top 20 list of best jobs. In the 1999 best seller, Jobs Rated Almanac: The Best and Worst Jobs, they ranked 16 in a list of 250 jobs.

The future looks bright because:

  • There is a need for Medical Laboratory Technologists in both cities and smaller communities.
  • Demand is increasing because our growing and aging population requires more health services. Nova Scotia has a 65+ population, greater than the national average.
  • New technologies improve the ability to diagnose disease.
  • Governments are increasing funding for health care
  • The present population of Medical Laboratory Technologists is aging and a large number will be retiring in the next 5-10 years, opening up a large number of jobs.

Related Jobs

  • Radiological Technologist
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologist
  • Radiation Therapist
  • Cytotechnologist
  • Diagnostic Medical Ultrasonographer

Resources

What Can I do Now?

  • Explore websites
  • Read testimonials (Career Cruising)
  • Interview/job shadow a Lab Technologist in your local area
  • Have a Lab Technologist come to your class/school
  • Choose the high school subjects needed to start your path to this career. Aim to achieve high grades.
  • Volunteer in health related professions.

This page and all contents Crown copyright © 2009, Province of Nova Scotia, all rights reserved.
2007-Nov-05.

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