The clinical laboratory professional is qualified by academic and applied science education to provide service and research in clinical laboratory science and related areas in rapidly changing and dynamic healthcare delivery systems. Clinical laboratory professionals perform, develop, evaluate, correlate and assure accuracy and validity of laboratory information; direct and supervise clinical laboratory resources and operations; and collaborate in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.
The clinical laboratory professional has diverse and multi-level functions in the areas of analysis and clinical decision-making, information management, regulatory compliance, education, and quality assurance/performance improvement wherever laboratory testing is researched, developed or performed. Clinical laboratory professionals possess skills for financial, operations, marketing, and human resource management of the clinical laboratory. Clinical laboratory professionals practice independently and collaboratively, being responsible for their own actions, as defined by the profession. They have the requisite knowledge and skills to educate laboratory professionals, other health care professionals, and others in laboratory practice as well as the public. The ability to relate to people, a capacity for calm and reasoned judgment and a demonstration of commitment to the patient are essential qualities. Communications skills extend to consultative interactions with members of the healthcare team, external relations, customer service and patient education. Laboratory professionals demonstrate ethical and moral attitudes and principles that are necessary for gaining and maintaining the confidence of patients, professional associates, and the community.
Clinical laboratory technicians/medical laboratory technicians are competent in:
- Collecting, processing, and analyzing biological specimens and other substances
- Performing analytical tests of body fluids, cells and other substances
- Recognizing factors that affect procedures and results, and taking appropriate actions within predetermined limits when corrections are indicated
- Performing and monitoring quality control within predetermined limits
- Performing preventative and corrective maintenance of equipment and instruments or referring to appropriate sources for repairs
- Applying principles of safety
- Demonstrating professional conduct and interpersonal communication skills with patients, laboratory personnel, other health care professionals, and with the public
- Recognizing the responsibilities of other laboratory and health care personnel and interacting with them with respect for their jobs and patient care
- Applying basic scientific principles in learning new techniques and procedures
- Relating laboratory findings to common disease processes
- Establishing and maintaining continuing education as a function of growth and maintenance of professional competence
(Taken from the Preamble to the Standards of Accredited Educational Programs for the Clinical Laboratory Technology/Medical Laboratory Technology, published by NAACLS, the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences in 1995/2001)
The job market for medical laboratory technicians is excellent around the state and nation and is expected to grow even stronger. Since the mid-1990’s, the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics tracked the increasing demand for laboratory services which reached 10 billion tests performed in 2001 and continues to climb. The Bureau estimates that through 2016, approximately 9300 new Medical Technologists (MT) and Medical Laboratory Technicians (MLT) will be needed each year to meet the demand for laboratory services as the U.S. population ages. However, the average number of graduates from accredited programs is less than 5,000 per year, indicating an annual shortage of about 5,000 qualified personnel each year. Medical Technology is an expanding health care field, which is adaptable and able to meet the needs and demands of a constantly evolving health care system. The MLT program at KCC teaches general skills which can be applied in a variety of settings as well as in health care.
Quality control in manufacturing, food science, pharmaceutical research and production, and other kinds of medical science research are a few of the other possible career paths available to the MLT graduate. In recent years, starting salaries for our graduates have ranged from $25,000 to $41,600 per year, with an average of about $34,000. Rates for individuals who work 2nd or 3rd shift could be higher. Experienced MLTs can earn $35,000 to $45,000 per year or higher, depending upon shift and geographical location.
Possible Career Advancement for MLT Graduates
There are several levels of educational preparation in clinical laboratory science, from the Associate Degree level to the Ph.D. The Kellogg Community College Medical Laboratory Technology Program provides the student the opportunity to obtain their MLT or CLT certification. This certification and successful completion of their coursework can serve as the first step of a career ladder to the Medical Laboratory Scientist (Bachelor degree) or a Masters or Ph.D. in clinical laboratory science, forensic science or other scientific specialties.
A number of our graduates have also increased their responsibilities by going on to earn Bachelor’s Degrees in Healthcare Administration or related fields and have accepted administrative positions in health care.