Lab technician careers are fairly uniform in their duties. It is often the setting that makes the difference. For example, many lab tech jobs are located in patient service centers. Others are located in centralized labs where specimens are taken for testing. Most hospitals have their own labs as well, testing blood and other specimens 24 hours a day. Those interested in lab technician careers should carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Lab technician careers centered in a patient service center will likely directly deal with many different patients from time to time. The patients come directly into the service center for blood work and other tests. The lab technician may work closely with a phlebotomist to get the work done that is needed. In some cases, both in a patient service center and a hospital lab, the technician may help the phlebotomist draw blood from individuals who prove uncooperative, usually children.
Centralized labs are another area where lab technician careers are available. These locations may never see the actual patient. Rather, specimens are collected and taken to the center. There, the tests are performed, and the results are sent back to the physician who ordered them. This may take a several days, or the results could be back in a matter of hours, depending on the situation.
Hospitals are one more place for lab technician careers. In a hospital, specimens are delivered in two ways. Phlebotomists will make rounds on different floors and bring the specimens back to the lab, or patients, especially those there on an outpatient basis, will go into the lab. In some ways, it is not much different than a patient service center.
The benefits of working in a patient service center or centralized lab is that the shifts are usually more consistent. Many have jobs where they work a traditional workday, and are off weekends. This type of schedule will be very attractive to some people. Some lab techs wanting to earn additional money may work at a patient service center or centralized lab during the week, and take a weekend shift at hospitals. The benefit of hospital work is that often the pay is better, especially for the less desirable shifts.
While most lab technician careers involve hands-on work, running machines, counting cells, and processing specimens, there are other careers available, as well. There will usually be a lead technician that supervises the lab and handles any complications that come up. Though they may process some specimens, they will also be involved in administrative duties such as scheduling, hiring and various other duties.