Sometimes, when going to the doctor, you may come across a physician who tells you about lab work. They may even take samples, such as your blood or urine, for analysis. Your physician is typically not the one who conducts the analysis. This responsibility falls under that of a clinical laboratory scientist.
A clinical lab scientist, also known as a medical laboratory scientist or clinical laboratory technician, plays an important role in discovering the absence or presence of a disease or other health condition within a patient.
This is a career that is vital to discovering what ails a patient and it is a significant part of the healthcare world. If you want to pursue being a clinical laboratory scientist today, learn all about it through our guide below.
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What Is a Clinical Laboratory Scientist?
Clinical laboratory scientists are like healthcare detectives. They work to uncover health information about a patient through laboratory tests. The analyses that these professionals perform are what help physicians determine patient diagnosis and treatment.
Laboratory technology allows clinical laboratory scientists to detect various health conditions in a patient, such as a heart attack, cancer, diabetes, and viral or bacterial infections. It is even possible to detect the abuse of drugs. The extensive monitoring and testing work necessary for modern medical science means a clinical laboratory scientist is in constant demand.
What Does a Clinical Laboratory Scientist Do?
A clinical laboratory scientist uses biomedical instruments and technology to perform analysis of various samples. This includes examining body fluids, cells, and tissues. They also analyze the chemical constituents of various body fluids. Working as a laboratory professional means identifying items within the body that may harm a patient, such as infective microorganisms, blood-clotting abnormalities, and more.
However, the work involves more than just identifying and analyzing potential diseases or health conditions. Laboratory work allows medical professionals to test the effectiveness of a treatment or crossmatch donor blood for a transfusion.
Essential Clinical Laboratory Scientist Skills
Clinical laboratory scientists must discover any potential ailments within a patient. This means analyzing and examining different samples and thoroughly looking into every aspect of a patient’s body.
A clinical laboratory scientist’s job is to evaluate a patient’s test results. These results may lead to a certain diagnosis and treatment for a patient. Depending on the laboratory test results, a significant change may occur in the patient’s life. This means that working in this position requires you to have good judgment, even when the results are unclear.
When working in this field, you use sophisticated biomedical machines that analyze small samples of a person’s body. You not only need to use the equipment properly but maintain it and be aware of any issues within it. The ability to handle and use new medical technology is important to successfully work in this field.
Of course, analytical skills are a necessity when it comes to lab work. Strong analysis and attention to detail play a significant role in a clinical laboratory scientist’s work. A thorough analysis is what may be the difference between assuming all is fine with a patient or discovering a life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment.
Clinical Laboratory Scientist Salary and Job Outlook
The median clinical lab scientist salary is $53,120 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This salary may change depending on a person’s experience, skills, education, and location.
The job outlook for this profession is seven percent, which is faster than the average occupation. This means there is significant growth expected for this position. This growth is due to the aging population and the overall greater need to examine and diagnose various medical conditions through laboratory analysis.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Clinical Laboratory Scientist?
It takes four to five years to become a clinical laboratory scientist. Keep in mind, this is not the same as a clinical laboratory technician, which only takes two years of education to become.
This timeframe primarily involves the four years it takes to earn your bachelor’s degree. However, you may have to take part in an internship for one to two years before you can work full-time in the field.
How to Become a Clinical Laboratory Scientist: A Step by Step Guide
If you have an interest in becoming a clinical laboratory scientist, then you’re in luck. Below is the step-by-step process of becoming one. It isn’t as involved as you may think and it only requires a bit of education and some certification to become one.
Step 1: Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree
The first step in becoming a clinical laboratory scientist is to earn your undergraduate degree after you graduate and receive your high school diploma. Some colleges and universities offer clinical laboratory science degree programs.
It’s possible to work in the field if you major in something closely related, such as biology, microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry, or other similar science programs.
Step 2: Gain Experience
After you earn your degree, or while you’re studying, the next step is to gain clinical experience. This means volunteering at a hospital or local lab and working under other clinical laboratory scientists. Not only will this give you valuable experience, but you will also gain important practical knowledge for your career in the field.
Step 3: Obtain Certification
Finally, after you graduate and earn your degree, as well as get a year or two of internship experience under your belt, the next step is to gain your certification with the American Society of Clinical Pathology. Research what requirements you need in your state to work in this field.
Step 4: Take an Entry-Level Position
Once you complete all the above, it’s time to start looking for entry-level laboratory work. There are several places to apply for positions in medical laboratory science, which include blood banks, clinics, hospitals, and laboratories. Keep in mind that your location is also a factor in potential job opportunities.
Should You Become a Clinical Laboratory Scientist in 2020?
It’s always rewarding and exciting to work in the medical field. It’s possible for people to make a significant impact on a person’s life through laboratory science work, even when you don’t work directly with patients.
Being a laboratory scientist means that you must stay up to date on the latest in biomedical technology. If you find excitement in medical science and want to use technology to help people and aid in the medical process, then this position may be right for you.
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