Medical Laboratory Technology

Medical laboratory technology can be defined as the application of technical and scientific knowledge in the health-care with strengths in clinical laboratory techniques and procedures. A medical laboratory technologist is a healthcare professional who exercises technical and scientific functions in medical laboratories. They collect samples and perform tests to analyse body fluids, tissue, and other substances. In some countries, medical laboratory technologists may be called biomedical scientists, medical laboratory scientists or clinical laboratory scientists.

These highly trained health-care professionals provide patient care through the performance of laboratory analysis and procedures in all areas of laboratory medicine. Most medical laboratory technologists are generalists, skilled in all areas of the clinical laboratory. However some are specialists, qualified by unique undergraduate education or additional training to perform more complex analyses than usual within a specific field.

Specialties include:

  • clinical biochemistry
  • hematology, microbiology
  • bacteriology
  • toxicology
  • virology
  • parasitology
  • mycology
  • immunology
  • immunohematology (blood bank)
  • histopathology
  • histocompatibility
  • cytopathology
  • genetics
  • cytogenetics
  • electron microscopy
  • molecular diagnostics
  • in vitro fertilization (IVF)

They perform a full range of laboratory tests – from simple prenatal blood tests, to more complex tests to uncover diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and cancer. They are also responsible for confirming the accuracy of test results, and reporting laboratory findings to pathologists and other physicians.

The information that a Medical Laboratory Technologist gives to the doctor influences the medical treatment a patient will receive. Medical Laboratory Technologists operate complex electronic equipment, computers, and precision instruments costing millions of dollars.

Medical Laboratory technologists also assist doctors and nurses in choosing the correct lab tests and ensure proper collection methods. Medical Laboratory Technologists perform, develop, evaluate, correlate and assure accuracy and validity of laboratory information and ensures maintenance procedures in laboratory instrumentation.

Graduates are qualified to work in:

  • hospital laboratories
  • research laboratories
  • clinical laboratories
  • private pathology laboratories
  • public health laboratories
  • university laboratories
  • sales and marketing
  • public schools
  • and in many other areas.

Medical Laboratory Technologist also have the option to continue their studies to postgraduate studies (Masters or PhD) and to venture into business to set diagnostic laboratory, quality assurance, academia and provide consultancy.