Medical Laboratory Assistant Training: What You Need to Know
- What is a medical laboratory assistant?
- What are the duties of a medical laboratory assistant?
- What is the job outlook for medical laboratory assistants?
- What are the education and training requirements for medical laboratory assistants?
- What are the certification and licensure requirements for medical laboratory assistants?
- What are the skills and qualities that medical laboratory assistants need?
- What are the working conditions for medical laboratory assistants?
- What are the salary and benefits of medical laboratory assistants?
- What are the career advancement opportunities for medical laboratory assistants?
- What are the resources for medical laboratory assistants?
Considering a career in medical laboratory assistance? Get the scoop on MLT training, certification, job outlook and more with our comprehensive guide.
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What is a medical laboratory assistant?
A medical laboratory assistant (MLA) is a health care professional who works alongside pathologists and technologists in clinical laboratories. They perform a variety of tasks, including preparing and processing specimens for testing, operating and maintaining lab equipment, and providing customer service.
Medical laboratory assistants must have a strong knowledge of human anatomy and physiology, as well as the principles of chemistry and biology. They must be able to work independently and as part of a team, and must be detail-oriented and organized. Good communication skills are also important, as they will often be working with patients and other Health Care professionals.
MLAs typically have at least an associate’s degree in medical laboratory technology (MLT), although some positions may require a bachelor’s degree. Many community colleges offer MLT programs that can be completed in two years or less. Some MLAs may also choose to become certified by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), which offers the Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) certification exam.
What are the duties of a medical laboratory assistant?
Medical laboratory assistants (MLAs) work under the supervision of medical laboratory technologists (MLTs) and perform a variety of routine technical tasks to support the work of MLTs, including specimen collection, processing and testing.
The exact duties of an MLA will vary depending on the size and type of facility in which they work, but may include:
-Collecting blood, urine and other samples from patients
-Preparing samples for testing
-Carrying out basic laboratory tests
-Maintaining and calibrating laboratory equipment
-Keeping accurate records of test results
-Reporting results to MLTs and other health care professionals
In order to become an MLA, you will need to complete a medical laboratory assistant training program at a college or university. These programs typically take one to two years to complete and include both classroom and hands-on learning.
What is the job outlook for medical laboratory assistants?
The job outlook for medical laboratory assistants is positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of medical laboratory technicians and technologists will grow 13 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.1
As the population ages, the demand for medical laboratory assistants is expected to increase because older adults are more likely to have chronic conditions that require diagnostic testing. In addition, as more sophisticated tests are developed to detect diseases early, there will be a need for more trained medical laboratory personnel to perform these tests.
What are the education and training requirements for medical laboratory assistants?
Medical laboratory assistants (MLAs) work in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and clinics, where they perform a variety of tasks related to the collection and processing of lab specimens. While some MLAs may have on-the-job training, most positions require at least a high school diploma or equivalent, and many employers prefer candidates who have completed an accredited MLA training program.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most MLA training programs last one year or less and lead to a certificate or diploma. These programs typically include coursework in Medical Terminology anatomy and physiology, phlebotomy (the collection of blood specimens), laboratory math and computers. Some programs also include an externship component, which allows students to gain hands-on experience in a healthcare setting.
Those who wish to pursue a career as a medical laboratory technologist (MLT) may need to complete a two-year associate’s degree program in clinical laboratory science. These programs combine classroom instruction with hands-on experience in the lab. In some states, MLTs must be licensed or certified; requirements vary by state.
What are the certification and licensure requirements for medical laboratory assistants?
To work as a medical laboratory assistant, you will need to earn at least a certificate or diploma from an accredited institution. Some states may require you to obtain a license, although this is not always the case.
Certification requirements vary by state, but typically include passing an exam administered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) or National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel (NCA). To be eligible to take the ASCP exam, you must have graduated from an accredited MLT or MLS program and have completed at least 50 credit hours of coursework. The NCA exam is open to anyone with a high school diploma or equivalent who has completed an accredited MLT or MLS program.
Licensure requirements also vary by state, but typically include completing an accredited MLT or MLS program and passing an exam administered by either the ASCP or NCA. In some states, licensure may also require you to complete a set number of clinical hours working in a medical laboratory.
Once you have met all of the requirements for certification and licensure in your state, you will need to keep your skills up-to-date by completing continuing education credits on a regular basis.
What are the skills and qualities that medical laboratory assistants need?
Medical laboratory assistants (MLAs) support the work of medical laboratory technologists (MLTs) and other healthcare professionals. They perform routine technical and clerical tasks in hospitals, clinics and other laboratories.
In order to be successful in this career, MLAs need to have strong attention to detail, good organizational skills and the ability to work well under pressure. They must be able to follow instructions carefully and be comfortable working with computers and other technology. MLAs also need to be able to communicate effectively with patients, healthcare professionals and laboratory staff.
What are the working conditions for medical laboratory assistants?
Medical laboratory assistants typically work in hospitals or clinics, though some may also work in private laboratories. They typically work regular hours, though some may be required to work nights or weekends. Medical laboratory assistants may be exposed to blood and other body fluids, and need to take precautions to avoid coming into contact with these fluids.
What are the salary and benefits of medical laboratory assistants?
Most medical laboratory assistants start their career with on-the-job training. Many community colleges, technical institutes, and hospitals offer 1-year certificate or diploma programs in medical laboratory technology. Although not required, certification as a medical laboratory technician (MLT) by a national credentialing agency can be helpful in getting a job and may lead to higher earnings.
What are the career advancement opportunities for medical laboratory assistants?
Once you have completed your medical laboratory assistant training and certification, there are many career advancement opportunities available to you. You may choose to pursue a higher level of education and become a medical technologist or a pathologist. Alternatively, you may decide to specialize in a particular area of the medical laboratory, such as blood banking or microbiology. With experience, you may also be able to move into a management position within a medical laboratory.
What are the resources for medical laboratory assistants?
The most important resource for medical laboratory assistants is a good training program. Many community colleges offer programs that lead to certification as a medical laboratory assistant, and some hospitals offer training programs as well. There are also a number of private schools that offer medical laboratory assistant training.
A good training program will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to perform your job effectively. In addition to classroom instruction, you will also get hands-on experience in a medical laboratory. This will help you understand the procedures and equipment you will be using on a daily basis.
After you complete your training, you will be prepared to take the certification exam administered by the American Medical Technologists (AMT). Once you pass this exam, you will be a certified medical laboratory assistant.