Career Profile: Medical Laboratory Assistant
Medical laboratory assistants are also known as medical laboratory technicians, and as the name implies, these health care professionals work in medical laboratories. There is some overlap in the roles of medical laboratory assistants and medical laboratory technologists, so read on for more information!
What is the role of a medical laboratory assistant?
Medical laboratory assistants work under the supervision of physicians, medical laboratory technologists, or other health care professionals. A common task is processing specimens for analysis by a technologist in the same lab. Educational programs often emphasize phlebotomy skills, as medical laboratory assistants are primarily responsible for collecting blood samples. In addition, the ability to perform ECGs (electrocardiograms) Holter monitoring means medical laboratory assistants have a certain degree of patient interaction.
What is the difference between a medical laboratory assistant and a medical laboratory technologist?
Though the names of these careers are similar, they are not the same. Medical laboratory technologists are trained to perform more tasks than medical laboratory assistants (hence their programs of study are longer). In addition, the work of medical laboratory assistant centers on pre-analytical and data-entry tasks. Technologists perform the actual analysis of specimens, using various analyzers and special tests.
Where do medical laboratory assistants work?
Most medical laboratory assistants find employment in hospitals, working in their laboratories and phlebotomy teams. Because they are trained to take blood, they may also work in doctor’s offices and blood donor testing centres.
How do you become a medical laboratory assistant?
There are many medical laboratory assistant programs across Canada. These programs are typically found in community colleges, and last around a year. When comparing programs, don’t look at just the tuition costs, but ensure that the program you want to enroll in offers a clinical placement. Clinical placements give you invaluable work experience and a start on career networking.
Becoming a medical laboratory technician is for those interested in a combination of lab work and patient interaction. The added advantage is the educational programs are typically short, allowing you to hit the workplace as soon as possible!