Medical Laboratory Scientist

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Clerical or OrganisingAnalytic or ScientificSkill Level 5Skill Level 6

Medical laboratory scientists perform laboratory tests on blood, other body fluids and tissue samples which provide information to assist in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. FutureGrowthModerateMedical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health. They often use clinical trials and other investigative methods to reach their findings.

They test samples for the presence of disease and potential causes, which may include bacteria, viruses or parasites. They may also run tests to determine the chemical composition of the sample and concentrations of naturally occurring components, such as testing blood to determine a blood group and the concentrations of red and white blood cells. The results of these tests can be used to assist general practitioners and other medical specialists to effectively treat and prevent disease.

Usually works with and supervises, Medical Laboratory Technicians.

 
ANZSCO ID & description: 2346: Conducts medical laboratory tests to assist in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease.  

Alternative names: Medical Scientist, Biomedical Scientist, Hospital Scientist, Medical Scientific Officer, Medical Scientist; IVF Embryologist

Specialisations: Blood Transfusion, Clinical Biochemistry, Cytology, Haematology, Histopathology, Immunology, Medical Microbiology, Virology

Knowledge, skills and attributes

A medical laboratory scientist needs:

  • good communication skills
  • active listening skills
  • excellent knowledge of science
  • oral and written communication skills
  • reading comprehension
  • use of logic and reasoning to solve complex problems
  • the ability to organise and prioritise work
  • the ability to make clear and precise observations
  • good problem solving ability
  • to work well under pressure

at work
(Source: University of Delaware)

Duties and Tasks

  • advising medical professionals on the results of tests and offering suggestions for diagnosis and treatment

  • preparing tissue sections for microscopic examination

  • examining and analysing samples to study the effects of microbial infections

  • analysing samples of body tissue and fluids to develop techniques to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases

  • setting up the steps and rules of laboratory medical testing

  • maintaining laboratory quality assurance and safety standards

  • preparing scientific papers and reports

  • analysing samples for consistency, makeup, and irregularities

  • maintaining laboratory equipment and making minor repairs as needed

  • operating microscopes and other equipment to test and examine samples

  • receiving tissue and other samples for experimentation and analysis

  • working with occupational health authorities to ensure laboratories are kept up to code and established regulations 

Working Conditions

Medical Laboratory Scientists work in laboratories, which may operate independently or can be attached to hospitals. There may also be limited opportunities to work in specialist veterinary diagnostic laboratories. They work closely with blood and infectious specimens, so must take care to follow strict safety procedures to minimise the risk of contamination.

The hours of work can vary, depending on the size of the laboratory. Medical Laboratory Scientists working in larger laboratories, particularly those attached to hospitals, may be required to work shifts, which include working nights, weekends and public holidays. Those working in small laboratories may work more regular business hours, though they may occasionally work overtime to finish running time-sensitive tests. Most Medical Laboratory Scientists will also be required to be on-call in case of emergencies.

Depending on your specialisation as a Medical Laboratory Scientist, you may be required to travel to find employment in your specific field.  


Tools and Technologies

Medical Laboratory Scientists use a range of highly specialised machines to carry out a range of tests. They may also use traditional laboratory equipment, such as microscopes, slides and materials to grow specimen cultures.

Protective clothing, such as lab coats, safety glasses and gloves, must be worn to reduce the risk of infection and the contamination of samples. Medical Laboratory Scientists use computers to compile reports of their findings and keep records of any tests carried out. Medical Laboratory Scientists who are on-call will also be required to carry a mobile phone so that they can be contacted at any time.


Education and Training

To become a medical laboratory scientist you usually need to complete a degree majoring in laboratory medicine, medical science or biomedical science.  

The primary qualification for Medical Laboratory Scientists in Australia is a three or four year degree in medical laboratory science/laboratory medicine, accredited by AIMS. Graduates of these degrees are classified as Medical Laboratory Scientists and eligible for Graduate membership of AIMS.

 

Medical Laboratory Scientist

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