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Medical Laboratory Science -Introduction

The Profession

Medical Laboratory Scientists, also called Clinical Laboratory Scientists or Medical Technologists, use sophisticated instruments and biochemical, microscopic, molecular and immunological techniques to analyze blood, tissues and other medical specimens. In a clinical laboratory, they use their knowledge and skills in science, biotechnology and medicine to provide essential information to physicians and other health care professionals about the presence, extent, or absence of disease, as well as effectiveness of treatment. Working in a laboratory requires excellent technical skills as well as problem solving, data analysis, computer skills and good oral and written communication. Clinical laboratory tests results provided by medical laboratory scientists are extremely important in providing objective information used by physicians and other health care providersfor diagnosis and treatment. The practice of modern medicine would be impossible without the valuable services provided by medical laboratory scientists.

Medical Laboratory Scientists use their biomedical expertise to:

  • Provide lab data and information to physicians to help diagnose cancer, diabetes, liver and kidney disease, drug overdoses, and many other conditions.
  • Identify pathogens and determine their susceptibility to various drugs.
  • Analyze DNA and RNA in infectious agents to identify drug resistance mutations.
  • Prepare stem cells, red blood cells and platelets for safe transfusion.
  • Identify leukemic cells so appropriate therapy can be initiated
  • Identify mutations associated with genetic diseases by analyzing patients' DNA, RNA or proteins.
  • Monitor therapy with anticoagulants and other drugs to ensure patient safety.

 

Career Opportunities

 
Medical Laboratory Scientists have a wide variety of career opportunities: 
 
  • Hospital, physician office, veterinary, national and regional testing laboratories
  • Biotechnology, pharmaceutical, chemical and cosmetic industries
  • Local, State or Federal Health Agencies
  • Research and Teaching Institutions
  • Advanced degrees in medicine and dentistry
  • Masters and doctoral degrees in biomedical sciences

The following video illustrates the impact that Medical Laboratory Scientists have on patient care:

http://www.ascls.org/?page=LifeSaved


 

A baccalaureate degree in Clinical Laboratory Science is an excellent starting point for career advancement in:

  • Technical Areas
  • Education 
  • Management
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Health Care Administration
  • Consultation
  • Health Care Law
  • Public Health
  • Research
 

Career Information

A baccalaureate degree is the entry level for a career in Medical Laboratory Science.

Employment:

'Rapid job growth and excellent job opportunities are expected" for medical and clinical laboratory technologists (scientists) according to the 2008-2018 Employment Projections of the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. A 12% growth in new positions is projected for this period with an increase from 172,400 to 193,000 positions nationwide. On top of that, many additional positions will be available due to retirement or attrition from the field. (Source:Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Employment Projections for 2008-2018, December 17, 2009. http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos096.htm)

The national vacancy rate for Medical Laboratory Scientists positions was as high as 11.6% according to a survey reported in 2011 by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (Source: Lab Med, 2:200-206, April 2011).

http://labmed.ascpjournals.org/content/42/4/199.full.pdf+html

 

Salaries:

In a survey conducted in 2010 by the American Society for Clinical Pathology, the national average annual salary for staff Medical Laboratory Scientists was $54,412 annually. The annual average salary for Medical Laboratory Scientist supervisors was $65,478. (Source: Lab Med, 42:142-16, March 2011)

According to salary.com, the annual Medical Laboratory Scientists salary for those already working in the field range as follows:

Newark, Essex County
25th Percentile
Median
75th Percentile
63,606
69,194
75,032
New Brunswick,Middlesex County
25th Percentile
Median
75th Percentile
62,957
68,487
74,265

Source: www.salary.com
Salaries are higher for supervisory and managerial Medical Laboratory Scientists
Accessed 07/26/11

 

Certification:

Graduates of accredited programs are eligible for certification examinations in the Medical Laboratory Scientist category given by the Board of Certification, American Society for Clinical Pathology: MLS(ASCP). This credential was Previously called Medical Technologists, MT(ASCP). Information can be obtained at:
http://www.ascp.org/FunctionalNavigation/certification/GetCertified

 

Professional Organizations:

American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science
http://www.ascls.org

American Society for Clinical laboratory Science-New Jersey
http://www.ascls-nj.org

American Society for Clinical Pathology
http://www.ascp.org/MainMenu/laboratoryprofessionals/Membership

 

Rutgers School of Health Related Professions
 

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