What do these
Clinical laboratory scientists or medical technologists conduct laboratory
tests on patient samples that provide the information needed to make a
diagnosis or monitor treatment. They utilize sophisticated computerized
laboratory equipment and they are responsible for assuring that test results
are accurate and consistent with the patient's status. In order to do this,
clinical laboratory scientists must be knowledgeable about both normal
physiology and disease states and recognize the inter-dependency of test
results. They are also responsible for monitoring the quality of results,
compliance with government regulations with respect to laboratory practice,
and administrative and educational duties.
Some examples of professional duties include
- Operate computerized
- Select and evaluate lab
- Identify abnormal cells
- Select, orient, and evaluate
- Assure safe transfusion of
- Monitor the quality of
- Culture and identify bacteria
- Correlate test results with
Where Do Clinical Laboratory Scientists Work?
Most clinical laboratory scientists /medical technologists work in the
clinical laboratories of hospitals. A "Med. Tech" may be a
generalist, working in all sections of a clinical laboratory, or a
specialist, primarily working in one section of the laboratory, such as
hematology, chemistry, transfusion service, immunology, bacteriology,
mycology, parasitology, or urinalysis. Examples of common laboratory tests
include tests to detect anemia, diagnose diabetes or strep throat, or provide
a transfusion to an accident victim.
Although initial employment is usually in the clinical laboratory in
hospitals or reference laboratories, Med. Techs may also be employed in the
laboratories associated with physician?s offices, HMO's, or public health
departments. Opportunities for employment also exist in industry. In this
type of setting, a "med. tech" may be involved in research and
development of pharmaceuticals, reagents, or other biological products. They
may also participate in the quality control of reagents or biological
products and sales and service of laboratory instruments and supplies.
Govern-mental agencies at the federal, state, and local level also employ
medical technologists. Graduates are eligible to apply for direct commissions
in the military (US Army, US Air Force, and US Navy) as Laboratory Officers.
Skills Are Needed For A Career in This Profession?
enjoy scientific inquiry and hands on laboratory work, enjoy working with
computers, and desire to have a 'behind the scenes' role on the health care
delivery team (These professionals have limited patient contact). The
profession also requires good eye-hand coordination and problem solving
What Type Of
Education/Training Is Needed To Enter This Profession?
Individuals may become a medical laboratory technician (MLT) by completing a
two-year program in a community college or in the armed forces. MLT's may
work in hospital laboratories or physician offices, but have limited
opportunities for advancement into supervisory positions.
Individuals may become a clinical laboratory scientist (CLS) or medical
technologist (MT) by completing a BS degree, which includes specific basic
science pre-requisites and professional education. These individuals have
broader employment opportunities than those with an associate degree.
Because courses in an MLT curriculum are often not at the same level as those
in the MT curriculum, articulation between the programs does not occur
Which Colleges In North Carolina Offer Degrees In This Field?
MLT programs are offered at a multitude of community colleges in NC. They are
listed in the AHEC Health Careers booklet. In Eastern NC, MLT programs are
available at Beaufort Community College in Washington, NC and Coastal
Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, NC.
University integrated BS degree programs are offered at East Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Winston Salem State University and Western Carolina.
Additionally, many colleges offer pre-requisite courses and have affiliation
agreements with certificate programs offered at Moses Cone Hospital,
Greensboro; NC Baptist Hospital, Winston-Salem; and Carolinas Medical Center,
What Is The Expected Salary For A This Profession?
In a survey conducted in 1998, starting salaries for staff clinical
laboratory scientists or medical technologists with a BS degree ranged from
$25,800 to $33,000 depending on the size of the employing laboratory, shift
worked, and the region of the country. Starting salaries for medical
laboratory technicians ranged from $20,800 to $23,700. Laboratory managers
reported average salaries in the range of $40,000 to $65,000. Individuals
working in facilities other than hospitals can often earn more.
What can one do to prepare now for this profession?
(In high school)
Select science and math courses in high school. Develop strong study skills.
Consider participating in the HOSA program to gain more knowledge about all
health careers. Ask your guidance counselor to arrange a visit to a clinical
PERSON: Susan T. Smith, Chair Department of Clinical Laboratory Science