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What does a Laboratory Technologist do?

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  • Written By: M. DePietro
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Laboratory technologists analyze samples of tissues, cells, and bodily fluids — such as blood and urine — taken from patients. Technologists perform various types of tests to help diagnose a medical condition or illness. For example, technologists may examine a sample to determine if bacteria, fungus or parasites are present.

Other duties of a laboratory technologist may include typing blood for a blood transfusion. Technologists identify the chemicals in blood, such as types and amounts of drugs. They can also perform tests to check for abnormal cell counts. Another important responsibility of a technologist is performing quality assurance, which is done to check the accuracy of the testing process.

There are various places which employ laboratory technologists including hospitals, clinics, research centers, universities and private laboratories. Exact responsibilities may vary depending on the place of employment and size of the facility. For instance, technologists in small facilities may be required to perform a wide variety of tests. Technologists in larger facilities may only have one area they specialize in.

Areas of specialization include, molecular biology, immunology and microbiology. Molecular laboratory technologists perform genetic tests on samples collected. Immunological laboratory technologist analysis tissue samples and their response to certain foreign substances. Microbiological technologists test samples to determine if microorganisms are present.

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The requirements to become a laboratory technologist include a bachelor's degree in medical technology or a closely related field such as microbiology. Technologists differ from laboratory technicians in that technicians usually only need an associate degree. Technicians also usually perform less complex tests than technologists.

There are over 400 programs in the United States which are accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences. The curriculum for technologists programs include classes in chemistry, math, microbiology and biology. There are also graduate schools which offer a masters degree in medical technology. Individuals with a masters degree may advance to a director of a laboratory.

Licensing requirements for laboratory technologists vary by state, and not all states require a license. Requirements may also vary by the place of employment. Individuals who are interested in becoming a laboratory technologist should contact the state department of health in the state they wish to work in to determine exact requirements.

Laboratory technologists may work varied hours depending on the type of employment. For example, laboratory technologists in hospitals may need to work weekends and overnight shifts. Salaries vary depending on level of experience, geographic location and type of facility.

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