Is a Medical Lab Assistant Career Right for Me?
Opportunities for positive and meaningful work abound in the field of medicine. However, you don’t have to be a doctor to be involved in the field. One possible job, which at most only requires an associate’s degree, is that of a Medical Lab Assistant. If you are interested in a career in medicine or science, a Medical Lab Assistant position may be right for you.
What is a Medical Lab Assistant?
Medical Lab Assistants generally help perform medical tests and maintain lab equipment. These tests provide valuable information that help doctors make their diagnoses. Because they are involved in many of the basic medical tests, Lab Assistants are a critical presence in the various medical fields. They often specialize in fields like immunology, hematology, and molecular biology.
What is the Typical Work Like?
Typically, Lab Assistants are involved in the entire medical testing process. If you became a Lab Assistant, your typical duties might include taking blood or tissue samples from patients and running other common procedures. Later, you'd turn over the lab results to the patient’s doctor, who will use them to diagnose and treat the patient. Here are some typical Lab Assistant duties:
Sample preparation: Medical Lab Assistants are responsible for prepping samples from patients for testing. This includes cutting samples down to their proper size, inserting any chemicals or dyes required by a test, and fitting samples to microscope slides.
Testing: Medical Lab Assistants often run simple tests, such as those requiring a microscope, or routine tests, such as checking for bacteria or hormone levels. Lab Assistants don’t perform the most complicated tests, but they may perform quality assurance on them to make sure no errors occur.
Blood typing: Medical Lab Assistants regularly determine patient blood types, usually prior to surgical procedures.
Chemical processes: Medical Lab Assistants are responsible for handling chemicals that are used in tests. Having a background in chemistry is essential for a Lab Assistant.
Reports: Medical Lab Assistants interpret and analyze the test findings and create reports for those who requested the testing. These reports are what doctors then use to make a diagnosis. Lab Assistants are also responsible for updating the patient’s records.
Lab upkeep: Medical Lab Assistants maintain all lab machines to make sure they function properly. If it is possible to fix the machine, then they may be responsible for this basic maintenance as well.
Lab Assistants are often involved in strenuous work. They may be required to handle heavy equipment and may be standing for long periods during the day. Additionally, Lab Assistants occasionally work with bio-hazards and need to follow proper procedures to keep the lab safe. Being fit and able to physically handle these work requirements may increase your likelihood of being hired.
How Do I Become a Medical Lab Assistant?
Once you decide to become a Medical Lab Assistant, what's next? Naturally, it’s important to make the career as rewarding as possible. One way you can ensure a rewarding career is to find the best schools and opportunities that not only qualify you as a Medical Lab Assistant, but allow you to make the most of the career in the future. Here are some tips to best prepare yourself for this career:
The right path: There are multiple ways to become a Medical Lab Assistant. The simplest way is to be trained on the job. Most Lab Assistants choose to receive an associate’s degree in a medical, chemical, or biology degree. This can be accomplished at a vocational school or community college. Some choose to transfer to a 4-year college to receive even more qualifications.
Educational background: Most educational programs focus students on medical and lab-specific courses. These include classes on microbiology and biochemistry as well as laboratory skills promoting use of equipment or analyzing specific samples. Also, Medical Lab Assistants can pick their specialty during their program. These include, but are not limited to, hematology, immunology, clinical chemistry, and cytotechnology.
Practical experience: It is important to have proper experience as well as a good education. Work studies and internships are a good way to gain on-the-job experience and build a resume. It is also possible to begin working with a clinic or hospital before becoming certified, allowing for valuable experience working in a medical environment.
Certification and licensing: To become employed, you will need to take a Lab Assistant certification plan. In addition to this, most localities require some sort of licensing for you to work as a Lab Assistant in the area.
When you choose to become a Medical Lab Assistant, you're on the path to an engaging career that offers promising growth prospects. If you are considering going in this direction, preparation is key. If you have any questions about how to become a Medical Lab Assistant, you can find more information in our website.