What is a Medical Laboratory Assistant?

If you’re thinking about a career in healthcare, you may have heard of Medical laboratory assistants (MLAs). But what exactly do they do? In this blog post, we’ll explore the role of MLAs and what they do on a day-to-day basis.

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The medical laboratory assistant role

A medical laboratory assistant (MLA) is a vital support role in pathology laboratories across the country. Working alongside pathologists, biomedical scientists and other healthcare professionals, they are responsible for the smooth-running of the laboratory and play an important part in ensuring that patients receive accurate test results.

The role of a medical laboratory assistant is varied and can include tasks such as collecting blood samples from patients, processing samples using a wide range of laboratory equipment, carrying out routine maintenance of instruments and keeping detailed records. They may also be involved in quality control procedures to ensure that all tests are carried out correctly and to a high standard.

With the ever-increasing demands placed on pathology services, it is crucial that medical laboratory assistants are able to work quickly and efficiently whilst maintaining accuracy and attention to detail. As such, it is essential that they have good team working skills and are able to follow instructions carefully.

If you are interested in becoming a medical laboratory assistant, you will need to have at least five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades A*-C, including Maths, English and Science. You will also be required to undergo a period of training in order to gain the necessary skills and knowledge for the role.

Duties of a medical laboratory assistant

Medical Laboratory Assistants (MLAs) work under the direct supervision of a technologist, senior technologist or pathologist performing a wide variety of technical and non-technical duties. These may include specimen reception and processing, accessioning, histology, cytopathology and microscopy.

The majority of MLAs working in Alberta are employed in histology or blood sciences areas. Some may also choose to specialize in microbiology, chemistry or immunology.

The medical laboratory assistant job outlook

The job outlook for medical laboratory assistants is positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment in this occupation will grow by 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is due to an aging population and the need for more diagnostic testing.

Medical laboratory assistants typically have an associate’s degree from a community college or technical school. Some states also require certification, which can be obtained through professional organizations such as the American Medical Technologists or the National Healthcare Association

The medical laboratory assistant salary

The median annual salary for a medical laboratory assistant was $31,860 in 2016, with the top 10 percent earning more than $44,660, and the lowest 10 percent earning less than $23,490, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median hourly wage was $15.34.

How to become a medical laboratory assistant

In order to become a medical laboratory assistant, you will need to complete a two-year associate degree or four-year bachelor degree in medical laboratory science. After completing the academic requirements, you will then need to obtain certification from either the American Society for Clinical Pathology or the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel.

The medical laboratory assistant education

The medical laboratory assistant education typically entails a certificate or diploma from a college with a medical laboratory technology program. The education of a medical laboratory assistant may also include coursework in phlebotomy (drawing blood) and EKG (electrocardiogram) technology.

After completing the medical laboratory assistant education and program, many graduates choose to pursue certification through organizations such as the American Medical Technologists (AMT) or the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel (NCALP). Although certification is not required for employment as a medical laboratory assistant, it may improve job prospects and lead to higher wages.

The medical laboratory assistant skills

Clinical laboratory assistants perform a variety of routine technical tasks to support the work of medical technologists, technologists, and pathologists. They collect and prepare patient specimens for diagnostic testing, maintain and operate laboratory equipment, and record and report test results. Many medical laboratory assistants receive on-the-job training that typically lasts about 3 months. Some states regulate medical laboratory assistants, requiring them to have a high school diploma or equivalent and to complete an accredited training program.

The medical laboratory assistant certification

The medical laboratory assistant certification is a voluntary, non-governmental credential that demonstrates an individual’s proficiency in performing clinical laboratory tests and procedures. The certification is granted by the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) and is valid for five years.

The medical laboratory assistant job description

Medical laboratory assistants (MLAs) provide support to pathologists, medical technologists and other health professionals in hospital laboratories, public health units, transfusion services and research laboratories. They perform routine technical and clerical tasks in the laboratory and may also have specific roles such as phlebotomy (drawing blood), preparing specimen slides for examination under the microscope and performing quality control checks.

The medical laboratory assistant career

Medical laboratory assistants (MLAs) play a vital role in the day-to-day operations of hospital laboratories and clinics. They are responsible for performing a variety of routine technical tasks, such as collecting and preparing blood and tissue samples for analysis, operating laboratory equipment, and keeping accurate records.

MLAs typically work under the supervision of a medical technologist or a microbiologist. Although most MLAs have at least an associate’s degree from an accredited program, some states require certification or licensure.

The job outlook for MLAs is good. Hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities are expected to continue to need qualified medical laboratory assistants to perform routine tasks and help keep laboratories running smoothly.

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