An Essay on Becoming a Medical Lab Assistant

This essay was written for my Medical Records and Communication class. This was written hastily and submitted late. While it is a boring subject I’ve decided to post it here as an example of my (poor) academic writing skills, and possibly as a resource for other students. Please enjoy.

On Becoming a Medical Lab Assistant

Among the many specialties in the world of medicine there exists a certain role which focuses on clinical laboratory work performing tests and diagnostics for hospitals, physicians and private research companies. Opportunities for Medical Laboratory Assistants have seen “faster than average” growth in recent years due in some part to advances in medical diagnostic technology and a burgeoning population in greater need of medical care (AMT, 2013). The following is a brief description of some of the many tasks a Medical Laboratory Assistant may perform, including the qualifications and skills that are essential prerequisites to both being hired and maintaining a career as a Medical Laboratory Assistant.

The idea of working in a laboratory environment might invoke images of silent hours spent hunched over a petri dish squinting into the ocular end of a microscope, or on the more romanticized end of the spectrum one might envision a wily haired scientist with goggles askew waving in triumph in his scorched white lab coat. In reality, laboratory work is fast-paced, strictly organized and performs a crucial function which the medical community, and indeed all of society, relies upon as a set of crucial diagnostic and preventative healthcare tools. Medical Laboratory Assistants perform such tasks as examining blood samples to test for diseases. The MLA (sometimes referred to as CLA; Clinical Laboratory Assistant) uses their knowledge of microbiology to determine the presence of parasites, viruses or bacteria and help diagnose diseases. The MLA may also perform urinalysis or other body-fluid sample tests to determine the toxicology of an individual. Knowledge of chemical interactions will be necessary as well, as tissue samples from biopsies may be kept in dangerous chemical solutions. Other more menial tasks include basic clerical work, greeting patients and communicating with healthcare providers (Locsin, A. 2013).

The American Society of Clinical Pathologists describes several eligibility options for certification, each with a varying amount of required chemistry and biology studies and all requiring at least an associate degree from an accredited school (ASCP, 2013). Certified Medical Laboratory Assistant (CMLA) certification can also be obtained from the American Medical Technologist Organization after completion of courses or certain work experience requirements, and other eligibility factors such as drug and health screenings (AMT, 2013). While these may seem like harsh requirements, most entry-level positions do not require completion of a degree and indeed are an important component in the education and certification needed to advance one’s career toward a higher level such as Medical Laboratory Technician (Thompson, S. 2012).

The AMT also projects a 14% increase in employment for MLAs between 2006 and 2016 as diagnostic technologies continue to arise and demand for these procedures increases as populations increase. Salaries vary regionally, with Phoenix currently hiring at 47% lower than the national average (via Salary Search at indeed.com) which is roughly $33,000 yearly (AMT, 2013). This may not seem glamorous or fair but these are specialized skills that are in demand in every state, nation or continent with most entry-level positions poised for advancement.

 References:

  AMT American Medical Technologists Certification: Medical lab assistant. (2013). http://www.americanmedtech.org/Certification/MedicalLabAssistant.aspx

ASCP American Society of Clinical Pathologists Board of Certification US Certification. (2013). http://www.ascp.org/certification#MLT

Locsin, A. Medical laboratory assistant job description. (2013). Houston Chronicle. (2013). http://work.chron.com/medical-laboratory-assistant-job-description-18192.html

Thompson, S. The qualifications for a medical laboratory office assistant. (2012). Houston Chronicle. http://work.chron.com/qualifications-medical-laboratory-office-assistant-18226.html

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