Jobs in medical laboratories include medical technicians, medical scientists and pathologists that collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue, and other substances to diagnose and treat diseases. More specialized positions may include phlebotomy technicians and phlebotomists, histotechnicians, cytotechnologists and microbiologists.
Medical laboratories are staffed by medical technologists and medical scientists who collect and perform tests on blood, urine, tissue samples, and body fluids to reveal the presence of a disease or condition. In the United States, the medical technician works under the supervision of the scientist and typically operates and maintains instruments, machinery and equipment, handles the collection and preparation of the samples and records results. The medical scientist may oversee the work of the technician, perform deeper analysis, interpret data and results and prepare reports to the physician or hospital that initiated the testing.
Phlebotomy technicians typically draw blood and prepare samples, while phlebotomists may identify blood clotting abnormalities, cross-match donor blood for transfusions and test blood for drug levels to measure the efficacy of particular treatments. They also evaluate test results for accuracy and help interpret them for the physician.
Histotechnicians and cytotechnologists prepare cross sections of body tissue for microscopic examination by a pathologist, and examine cell samples under the microscope for early signs of cancer and other diseases. The cytotechnologist issues the final report on specimens that contain normal cells and, when abnormal cells are present, works with a pathologist to arrive at a final diagnosis.