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Clinical Laboratory Scientist

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hce3.gifClinical Laboratory Scientist

What do these professionals do?
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 instruments
  • Select and evaluate lab equipment
  • Identify abnormal cells
  • Select, orient, and evaluate employees
  • Assure safe transfusion of blood products
  • Monitor the quality of testing
  • Culture and identify bacteria and viruses.
  • Correlate test results with patient condition


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.

Which Personal Skills Are Needed For A Career in This Profession?
Individuals who 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 skills.

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 readily.

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, Charlotte.

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 laboratory.

CONTACT PERSON: Susan T. Smith, Chair Department of Clinical Laboratory Science 252-328-4417







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