Our Profession

What We Do

Medical laboratory testing plays a crucial role in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease in patients. Laboratory tests help determine the presence, extent or absence of disease and monitor the effectiveness of treatment. An estimated 60 to 70 percent of all decisions regarding a patient’s diagnosis, treatment, hospital admission and discharge are based on laboratory test results.

Medical laboratory scientists (also called clinical laboratory scientists or medical technologists) and clinical laboratory technicians (also known as medical laboratory technicians) perform most laboratory tests.

We analyze test results and then share and explain them to physicians. We perform complex chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic and bacteriological tests, requiring significant analytical and independent judgment.

How We Do It

We perform a variety things, including:

  • Make microscopic examination and analysis of blood, body fluids (such as, urine, peritoneal fluid, cerebrospinal fluid), tissues and cells
  • Analysis of body fluids for chemical analytes such as glucose and cholesterol
  • Cross match blood for transfusion
  • Monitor patient outcomes
  • Perform differential cell counts looking for abnormal cells to aid in the diagnosis of anemia and leukemia
  • Utilize sophisticated equipment and instruments that can perform a number of tests simultaneously, as well as microscopes, cell counters, and other high-precision laboratory equipment
  • Write standardized operating procedures, and establish quality assurance programs to monitor and ensure the accuracy of test results
Why We Do It

We provide clues that are key in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries. We truly are the detectives of the health care world. We further assist in the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle for our patients.

We use the clues, which are found in our own bodies, to help unravel and solve the mysteries of diseases and injuries. Some of the testing that allows us to do this includes the monitoring of the composition of blood, urine, other bodily fluids, and various tissues from the body. The tests that we perform become the early warning signs of disease and are crucial to our patient’s health and well-being.

While we do not spend as much time directly with patients like doctors or nurses, we are just as dedicated to our patients’ health. We are vital members of the health care team! We find great satisfaction in our work, especially since we know that we are helping to save lives!

A Life Saved: Laboratory Professionals Make A Difference

Shown below is a short video that highlights the role that laboratory professionals play in patient care. In this 12 minute video, a young boy was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia (M3) and his family shares their thoughts and feelings about their experience. Laboratorians, the hematopathologist and the hematology/oncology physician, also share their part in this particular patient case.

This poignant and moving story helps to show the active, vital role that laboratorians play every day in every lab in the country. We hope that this video helps you to understand the critical and vital role that our profession plays in today’s healthcare.

Saving Lives In The Shadows Of Healthcare

In addition to what you learned in the video above, we are a critical element in the prevention of and diagnosis of infection causing pathogens. In the video below, you will lean more about these superbugs.

Superbugs (or multidrug-resistant pathogens) are being spread, as our treatment choices diminish. Diagnostic tests to identify the pathogen(s) responsible for an infection can improve a patient’s recovery and reduce the spread of superbugs in our hospital systems worldwide, as can a sterile healthcare environment. At the TedX Texas State University Conference on November 5, 2016, Dr. Rodney E. Rohde, a clinical microbiologist and professor at Texas State University, discussed the reality of superbugs in healthcare systems, and the important role of hygiene specialists and medical laboratory professionals in combating these superbugs.

For more details or for the video abstract, please see here.

What Is It Like?

For many, it is the questions and the challenges that drive them. You have seen from above the compelling and passionate reasons why we do what we do. The following videos pull back the curtains to reveal a little more about what a typical day may look like and what opportunities exist for medical laboratory professionals beyond the standard laboratory.

What Does A Day In The Life Look Like

This video will walk you through what a day in the life of a medical laboratory professional looks like. The examination and/or licensing procedures outlined in this video are likely different for you and where you will be working. Please remember to verify the requirements for your area.

Additional Opportunities for Medical Laboratory Professionals

There are many different paths that one can take to become a medical laboratory professional. The video below is from an Ask Me Anything (AMA) hosted by the National ASCLS. In this video many different perspectives are shared and related discussion regarding the opportunities for medical laboratory professionals beyond traditional career paths.