Medical laboratory assistant technicians play an important role in investigating the root causes of illness, monitoring patient health, and supporting the smooth running of the diagnostics lab. Often, they represent a crucial link between patient and lab, collecting samples directly from patients, transporting them to the lab and helping to conduct analyses. Their work helps confirm or disprove a physician’s diagnosis, directing the path of future treatment.
Medical lab assistant technicians are focussed, detail-oriented, knowledgeable, and versatile – they build careers in a number of challenging environments. Here are a few of the most common:
If you’ve recently graduated with a medical laboratory assistant technician diploma and are up for a challenging, fast-paced work environment, a medical clinic could be your ideal placement. Your duties will be diverse, ranging from coordinating patient flow in the examination and treatment areas, to measuring vital signs and conducting ECGs. A typical medical clinic post will also ask assistant technicians to review patient medications lists, coordinate follow-up appointments, and maintain an inventory of medications. If you’re leaning toward a busy clinic environment, you are most likely an effective multi-tasker, very well organized, and have excellent people skills. You’re efficient and fast, but will never lose sight of caring for patients’ needs.
For many students, their assistant technician training leads to employment in a hospital. In this environment, the way you spend your day depends on which department you work in. For example, if focussed on blood testing, the assistant technician will likely travel through each floor of the hospital, collecting blood from each patient who needs testing, and then transport the samples to the hospital lab. They will monitor floors, collect additional samples as needed, and help in out-patient labs. Other hospital assistant technicians will work strictly within the labs receiving and preparing samples for testing as part of a team involving other technicians and technologists. If you’re posted to a clinic within the hospital, you will most likely spend some of your time fulfilling administrative tasks, like reading requisitions and registering tests – in addition to collecting samples and getting them to the lab.
Before any new drugs come to market, they must first undergo numerous tests to ensure they are safe for human consumption and reliable as effective treatments. A big part of clinical research is human drug trials. Pharmaceutical companies look for qualified medical laboratory assistant technicians to help screen patients who would like to participate in trials, and monitor them once enrolled. Typical duties would include conducting screening interviews and assessing whether volunteers are appropriate for a specific study. Assistants would also record vital signs, obtain and process blood and urine samples, and assemble subjects for continual monitoring and testing throughout the trial. Their attention to detail, organization, and communication skills are a vital part of developing treatments for some of the world’s most serious diseases, like cancer, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes.
What would be your ideal placement as a medical laboratory assistant technician?