Medical Lab Technician | Kids Work!

What is a Medical Lab Technician?

Clinical laboratory technologists perform testing that is crucial to detecting and diagnosing diseases. They examine and analyze body fluids, tissues and cells and look for bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms. People in this field use microscopes and high tech equipment that is automated to perform many tests at once. Medical Lab technologists have knowledge in biology, chemistry and medicine. They also use mathematics to perform tests and must accurately document their findings. When there is an emergency, the technician has to work quickly to provide physicians with the results of their tests to save patients lives.

Real People Profile

Name: Vincent M. Carraway
Workplace: Palmetto Health Richland
Education: Bachelor of Science in biology with a minor in chemistry 
Masters in medical technology 
Masters in public health
Favorite Subject(s)
in School:
Biology and organic chemistry
First Real Job: Laboratory technician
Dream Job: Investigation of disease outbreaks
Interests: Fishing, canoeing, building/woodworking, gardening

Real People Q&A

Advice for students interested in my job: 
Do your best in all subjects, especially science and math, but also those related to computers and communication.

What subjects in school will students need to do my job?
Biology, chemistry, physics, math, computer technology

What I like most about my job? 
What I like best is investigating the unknown. Basically what we do is take a specimen that was collected from that patient and it's unknown what is causing that infection. We have to do various testing procedures to determine what's happening, if anything, to cause the patient's infection. It's like playing Sherlock Holmes sometimes because we don't know what we're expected to find. Sometimes the doctor can tell us what he suspects but often times he doesn't. He gives us the specimens and says I need all of the cultures and testing done to it, and we have to narrow it down to what probable cause for the infection, and then we have to do more testing to determine what antibiotics to use to treat that infection. It's interesting being part of the healthcare team because the doctors and nurses need that vital information to properly care for the patient.

What is the biggest challenge in my job? 
While some of our testing may take hours, days or even weeks, it's important to remember that some of that information has to be relayed back to the physician very quickly. We have to prioritize what we are doing just like a child may have to prioritize their schoolwork. We have to put some things aside so we can do some testing quickly and get those results back to the patients and get back to the other testing after that. I think that is challenging.

How do you get a job like mine? 
Study and keep up with your schoolwork because you are going to need all of that, math and science and computer skills, when you get to college, you're going to need that. When you are in college you are going to need to study the sciences. Most medical technologists get a bachelor's degree in one of the science fields and then they are going to study medical technology for a year after that. You are going to have to have good grades to get into college and that medical technology program. Good grades are going to be important to get that first job.