A medical technologist, also known as a clinical laboratory scientist, conducts diagnostic laboratory tests that are important in detecting, analyzing, and treating a wide variety of diseases and medical conditions. Microscopes, chemicals, precision tools, and computer equipment are used by this medical professional to perform tests that give doctors and patients detailed information about various conditions, including the progress and prognosis of the patient. Cytology, hematology, toxicology, parasitology, serology, bacteriology, blood typing, urinalysis, immunochemistry, environmental chemistry, and nuclear medicine are just a few of the many areas where this type of employee would be used.
Hospitals alone request and process millions of laboratory tests each year. The tests are quite important because there is so much information that can be learned about the health of a given patient. For example, with a small sample of about 40 drops of blood, over 20 separate tests can be run at the same time. A few common tests include complete blood count, liver function tests, thyroid function test, renal function test, semen analysis, and routine cultures. Some tests are quite commonplace and others are so specialized that only a few specialized laboratories can conduct them across the globe.
In general, a medical technologist has a baccalaureate degree, but those with a graduate education often receive a higher salary and greater responsibilities. She is often in charge of a laboratory and makes vital decisions about laboratory results. She will also conduct difficult testing procedures, so a comprehensive background in the sciences is essential. Having such a background will allow a technologist to problem solve, interpret, and analyze complex systems. Understanding the scientific theory behind any given test is important, as well.
For this medical professional, evaluating the effects of certain pathological diseases is of the utmost importance. Without knowing how a condition will “show-up” on a test, the test is worthless. Plus, those with the role of supervisor for a laboratory will need to monitor the work of others for accuracy. She must be able to find errors in the test and know how to fix such problems through calibration, assessment, or quality control. She may even be in charge of teaching new test procedures to her fellow technicians.
A medical technologist, called a generalist, is one who is employed in a facility where there is a variety of laboratory testing. She may also specialize and become an expert in a specific area of medicine. Many are employed by research companies, universities, and public health laboratories, while others work as private consultants. Regardless, it is a growing field where there are a variety of job opportunities.