To a medical laboratory science professional, human blood cells are keepers of a patient’s health secrets and the building blocks of discovery. Diagnoses and treatment plans are formed thanks to the discoveries made in medical laboratories. Detectives in white lab coats run tests that can detect a serious illness or a vitamin deficiency. The work of these professionals is often unnoticed by patients but has a serious impact.
To learn more, check out the infographic below created by University of Cincinnati’s Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science.
Exploring Medical Laboratory Science
Biological specimens travel from a vial to a Petri dish under a microscope for a comprehensive list of tests. It’s a process made up of several procedures that collectively aid in detecting issues such as cancer, heart attacks, diabetes, infection-causing bacteria or viruses, illicit drugs, or infectious mononucleosis.
There are several types of procedures and tests produced by a lab. Chemistry tests analyze plasma and body fluids such as electrolytes, lipids, proteins, and glucose. Cytogenic procedures can identify morphology, disease genes and abnormal chromosome counts. Hematology is used to diagnose blood diseases and bleeding disorders, blood cell counting and classification, and to oversee anticoagulant therapy. Cytology is a procedure used to identify changes in cancerous cells. Immunology tests evaluate a patient’s ability to resists infections, diagnose allergies, infectious and/or autoimmune diseases, and to determine organ transplant compatibility. Histology tests prepare specimens for pathologists to examine. Microbiology is used to analyze pathogenic bacteria, parasites, viruses, fungi, and yeast. Finally, blood banking procedures are deployed for antibody screening and cross-matching to prepare for blood transfusion.
Recent Development in Medical Laboratory Science
Indirect Immunofluorescence Imaging (4i)
Indirect Immunofluorescence Imaging, or 4i, is a method for analyzing cells and their components that gives, according to a ScienceDaily article, a “multiplexed tissue-to-organelle view of biological samples and links multiple information in one and the same experiment.” This innovation, which was developed by researchers at the University of Zurich, visualizes 10 times more proteins than traditional immunofluorescence. It impacts several fields, including research, precision medicine, and tumor therapy.
Medical Laboratory Technician
A medical laboratory technician collects, processes, and analyzes biological specimens including blood tissue, body fluids, and cells. They also maintain lab instruments, perform laboratory analyses, and analyze test results for diseases and conditions.
There are education and licensing requirements to becoming a medical laboratory technician. A minimum of an associate degree in medical laboratory technology or clinical laboratory technology are required, as is national certification as a medical laboratory technician. The licensing requirements for the position vary from state to state.
Medical Laboratory Scientist
A medical laboratory scientist performs advanced laboratory procedures. They also analyze and evaluate the procedures’ results. Additionally, they develop new testing methods and conduct research.
The position also carries certain educational and licensing requirements. Either a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science or the completion of an MLT to MLS program or bachelor’s program in medical laboratory science is a must. National certification as a medical laboratory scientist and licensing requirements are also required, although the latter’s requirements vary by state.
Professionals in the field of medical laboratory science can work in numerous settings. Some of these environments include research, forensics, pharmaceuticals, infection prevention and control, medical sales, hospitals, public health, tumor therapy, and industry positions.
Though not as action-packed as crime fighting detectives, medical laboratory science offers individuals the chance to make discoveries and obtain laboratory data that will impact the lives of patients. Whether through clinical testing, research or developing new testing methods, medical laboratory science professionals will enjoy a career driven by medical discovery and technological advancements.