Let’s pretend that you have chosen to become a medical lab assistant, and you now must find what speciality you’d like to work in.  There are a variety of fields to choose from. And like any job, you’re more prone to get hired if you are educated in the field you have chosen.

First, there are different locations you can work. You can work in hospital, private labs, public health organizations, research, office labs and specialty labs among a list of many.

Second, once you have graduated high school, you can apply to an accredited school that offers a Medical Lab Assistant program. They need to be accredited with NHCW (National Health Care Workers Association).

Being certified shows you are trained in the different aspects in the job. Of course, you need to finish the 2- year program and get your Associate of Science degree. Seek your employment after your graduation. Once you have landed your job, be sure to remember continuing your education. You will need credits when it is time to renew your certification.

Medical assistant jobs are based on what you learn in school. Take the classes serious and get all the knowledge you can. Your guidance counselor can give you leads to follow for jobs. Looking on line and in papers will assist you in finding open positions. It does not hurt to call the places to see if they are hiring.

Being Knowledgeable of Medical Lab Assistant Routines

Your job as a medical lab assistant will include taking the sample, preparing samples and slides, running several different tests. You will perform routine and specialized tests, preparing and staining slides.

You will have a lab order to compare name, lab ordered, birthdate. An identifying number will be put into the computer. Identifying number will be attached to the correct patient. You will be responsible for double checking the name of the person and the test being performed. 

You will perform phlebotomy as well as recording the information of the tests performed. You will also be responsible for keeping the lab stocked, checking lab supplies and ordering supplies. You should have knowledge of all policies in the lab.

Follow these, no exceptions. You will work side by side with other lab workers. You will be responsible for maintaining equipment used in the lab. Run quality controls, set up blood analyzers and sterilizing equipment.

Qualities of a Successful Medical Lab Assistant

To be a successful medical lab assistant involves a lot of qualities:

  • Knowledge – You need to have a strong background in science such as chemistry, biology, microbiology and physics. There are chemicals involved in lab tests and you need to know how they react with each other. You must love science.
  • Be detailed oriented with your lab test. Check and double check everything.
  • Likes repetition – You will be performing the same tests over and over.
  • Like working behind the scene – You will be proud of yourself when you do the lab that helps contribute to saving a life.
  • Technological Skills – You will need to have knowledge in the use of computers and electronics. Medical software will be prominent in the lab. Be very familiar with Word and its components.
  • Communication Qualities – Being able to communicate with your fellow employment is a must. You will also have to converse with physicians, patients and the public. Writing skills go hand in hand with talking. Know both.
  • Problem Solver – When there is a problem, use your analytical skills to solve the problem.
  • Have patience – You will have to handle people wanting their lab work now.
  • Great Vision – There are many small substances to view. Keep your eyes good. If you need new glasses, get them.

Once you conquer these skills, you will be a great medical lab assistant.

Responsibilities of A Medical Lab Assistant

There will be responsibilities of:

  • Organizing work such as computer orders, specimen labels, sorting specimen, logging the specimens, arranging reports.
  • You will keep your work surfaces clean and orderly. Sterilizing is a must.
  • As I stated before you will have to run quality controls on all the lab equipment. These will be run every day. Some will be run more than once a day.
  • You will need trainings. Answering questions of the physicians will be a large task to learn. Take of advantage of any trainings offered to your through your work.
  • Performing toxicology labs will be another responsibility.
  • You will have to contribute to creating a safe environment for everyone that enters the lab. Put the Wet Floor Sign up if you need it. Warn of any chemicals in use that may cause problems.
  • Maintain patient confidence. You will have to follow the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) rules. HIPAA is very important and it is followed precisely.
  • Follow OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) rules. OSHA is always around. That is why there are rules put in place. They also cover work related injuries. You will be responsible for some compliance duties. Everyone will work together to make sure they are up to par.

Training and Salary for a Medical Lab Assistant

The education behind a medical lab assistant is the most important thing to do first. There are accredited colleges throughout the United States. They must be accredited. You will start with your core courses, getting those out of the way to focus on your medical lab assistant classes. The 2- year program is the best program. You can get a better education with this program. Potential employers prefer that their employees have their 2-year degree. A bachelor’s degree is even better. Of course, that will need to be a 4-year program.

Some of the courses you will have to take are: physiology I and II; anatomy I and II; microbiology (standard and clinical); chemistry; organic chemistry; physics; statistics; and pre-calculus. Knowledge of all these subjects is necessary. You work day in and day out with chemicals. You will need to know anatomy to do accurate lab testing for accurate body parts.

Data has shown that medical lab assistants earn a little more than all other occupations. Of course, they do not earn as much as a doctor or a nurse, but are well compensated. The field is rapidly growing. If you work for the Federal Government, you get paid the highest.

The lowest paid are in private office. The average pay salary for a beginning around $36,000 per year. Of course, it also depends on what area of the United States you live in. Different areas pay different amounts.

Be aware it is a non-stop pace you will be working in. You will have calls coming in, at the same time you are drawing blood. There may be days you have calls, people waiting in line, and calls from the emergency room floor to come draw blood. Not all days are like this, but you will have some.

Your ability to distribute time wisely will come in handy. The greatest goal is making sure the right test is with the right person. If it is not, many problems will ensue. The number one is that you can be fired. The persons that were involved may sue the hospital. Wrong medicine could be given to a patient which may harm them. Double and triple check it is right patient and right test.

Enjoy your work and the people. Take the time each day to review the day’s schedule. If there are some procedures you are unsure of the steps to take, ask your lab superior. Make sure they show you how to perform the procedure.

Do not be afraid to state you do not know how to do one or to ask for help. Do not attempt the procedure before learning the steps. This can cause much danger to patient. You are responsible for the work you do. Be sure to take pride.

There are several areas in lab work you can opt for. Here are some options:

  • Medical Sample Testing – A good example would be a lab group that accepts outsources from physicians.
  • Biological Tissue Analysis – Tissue samples are analyzed along with dissections and harvesting tissue.
  • Geological Sample Analysis – This would be mainly rock and soil samples to test for pollutants.

That was just a few areas. You will make your decision. Be sure to work at all the classes, which are important. I had many students say they were not going into psychology, so they did not need to take it. This is a needed class. You can learn how to read a person and their body language. This can help you. Take the classes serious. You will need to know chemistry as well as biology.

The bottom line is no matter which area you go into, do your best, follow rules and regulations. Your work is you and reflects you. Be kind to the patients you will be working on. Most will be very scared; you will need to put them at ease the best you can.

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