A medical laboratory scientist (MLS), often known as a medical technologist or clinical laboratory scientist, analyzes a wide range of biological samples. They are in charge of doing scientific tests on samples and communicating the results to physicians.
What does a medical laboratory scientist do?
Medical laboratory experts use sophisticated technology such as microscopes to perform complicated tests on patient samples. The information they discover is critical in detecting and treating cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other medical problems. It is believed that 60 to 70% of all choices on a patient’s diagnosis, treatment, hospital admission, and discharge are dependent on the findings of the tests performed by medical laboratory scientists.
Medical laboratory scientist vs. medical laboratory technician
A medical laboratory scientist and a medical lab technician are similar, yet there are a few important distinctions. They both operate in laboratories and conduct tests on biological materials; but, a medical lab scientist generally has more schooling and can undertake more complicated lab work. A medical lab technician is responsible for more regular lab work and is frequently overseen by a medical lab scientist.
Medical laboratory scientist vs. medical laboratory assistant
Medical laboratory assistants are a subset of medical laboratory technicians. They are in charge of preparing biological specimens, documenting data, and performing additional lab maintenance chores like cleaning equipment and replenishing supplies. A medical laboratory scientist will collaborate with a medical laboratory assistant to analyze prepared specimens and convey information for them to record.
Medical lab scientists work in hospitals, clinics, forensic or public health laboratories, pharmaceutical corporations, biotechnology firms, veterinary clinics, or research organizations. Their work hours may vary depending on the location, although labs are generally open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This provides for schedule flexibility.
The majority of medical laboratory scientists work on their feet, evaluating test findings in the lab.
Becoming a medical laboratory scientist
Successful medical lab scientists are good communicators with strong intellect and a passion for science and technology. Excellent eye-hand coordination, dexterity, and visual acuity are required to conduct and evaluate tests skillfully.
Individuals who enjoy science and research but wish to have little to no contact with patients might be a good match for a career as a medical laboratory scientist.
Higher education requirements
Most people who get a high school diploma (or the equivalent) will go on to pursue some degree of higher education and training to become a medical laboratory scientist.
The following are common higher education requirements for medical laboratory scientist jobs:
- Completing a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or clinical laboratory science. A bachelor’s degree in a science or health-related field (e.g. chemistry or microbiology) may also be considered.
- Completing a clinical laboratory program or internship through a hospital-based program or as part of their education
- National certification as a medical technologist (MT), clinical laboratory scientist (CLS), or medical laboratory scientist (MLS)
- Previous experience in a health care setting
Certification and licensing
The majority of companies need medical laboratory scientists to be certified by an accrediting organization, such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Certification (BOC). Medical laboratory scientists (MLS) can practice under the credentials of MLS(ASCP)CM after completing the credentialing test.
State licensure may also be necessary.
Career opportunities and outlook
A medical lab scientist’s typical pay is $54,000, however, wages can range from $31,000 to $83,000 based on degree, region, and previous experience.
Medical laboratory technologists and scientists have a high rate of job growth and security. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is presently a scarcity of medical lab technicians and scientists in many regions of the country, ensuring plenty of job possibilities and, in certain cases, higher pay for graduates. With the number of laboratory tests projected to expand faster than usual owing to population expansion and the development of new types of tests, job possibilities are expected to grow faster than average, with over 24,000 new positions expected to be available by 2029.
A medical lab scientist can advance to the position of a department head or lab manager with extra training and experience. Others may pursue specialties to enhance their professions. With more training, a medical lab technician will often advance to the position of medical lab scientist.
If you prefer the role of a medical assistant, please read more here.