Elsevier Connect

Healthcare

The hidden profession that saves lives

Medical Laboratory Science (also called Clinical Laboratory Science) is one of the most under-recognized health professions – with excellent job prospects

A Clinical Laboratory Science class at Texas State University (Photo by Chandler Prude)As an undergraduate microbiology major and MS student in virology, I envisioned a career in the clinical laboratory at some exciting hospital conducting microbiological testing to identify disease-causing microbes.

After graduating and starting my job search, I quickly learned that I was mistaken.

To conduct diagnostic laboratory testing in a clinical environment, like a hospital laboratory and most reference laboratories (which provide services for physicians), I needed to be certified or licensed as a medical laboratory scientist (MLS) or medical laboratory technician (MLT).

What is a Medical Laboratory Professional?

Medical Laboratory Scientists (MLS) and Medical Laboratory Technicians (MLT) — also known as Clinical Laboratory Scientists (CLS) — perform laboratory tests on patient samples to provide information needed to diagnose or monitor treatment. Examples of common laboratory tests include tests to detect anemia, diagnose diabetes and strep throat, and provide a transfusion to an accident victim.

Professional duties include:

  • Operating computerized instruments
  • Identifying abnormal cells
  • Assuring safe transfusion of blood products
  • Culturing and identifying bacteria and viruses
  • Correlating test results with patient's condition
  • Selecting and evaluating lab equipment
  • Selecting, orienting and evaluating employees
  • Monitoring the quality of testing

Source: NAACLS Standards for Accredited and Approved Programs

After learning that I would be unable to work in a hospital laboratory, I decided to go to work for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) in the Bureau of Laboratories as a public health microbiologist. I worked in a variety of areas, including newborn screening and virology.

Later, I was a molecular epidemiologist for the DSHS Zoonosis Control Division, where I became sort of a hybrid employee between the laboratory and in the field tracking zoonotic disease agents (for example, rabies, hantavirus and plague) as a molecular epidemiologist. It was a fantastic experience and provided a strong foundation for the span of my career. I was one of the original members of the successful Oral Rabies Vaccination Program in Texas that eliminated wildlife rabies from coyotes and foxes in the 1990s. I also worked with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to establish the DSHS Regional Rabies Typing Laboratory as the first state public health laboratory to provide rabies typing for other states and countries.

It was in the DSHS laboratory that I first became acquainted with a "med tech" and what his educational background and profession involved.

Medical laboratory science involves diagnostic laboratory testing from A to Z. These professionals do everything from providing your cancer testing results, to predicting the correct antibiotic to prescribe, to typing the correct blood for surgery. MLS professionals provide answers to life-and-death decisions every day.

Callie Megan Wright, MS, MLS, MB (ASCP)CM is a Texas State University alumna from 2009. She works at Clinical Pathology Laboratories in Austin, Texas, where she is responsible for setting up and evaluating molecular diagnostic tests and quality control. I was fascinated – and disappointed – that I had not learned of this amazing career choice (and major) while I was in college. In fact, I was right across the street from an MLS program while I was obtaining my microbiology and virology degree.

This is an important thing to mention because MLS as a college major is often in an Allied Health program or the College of Health Professions, not in the College of Science where my microbiology courses were. 

As MLS program chair, I have had so many students and alumni tell me: "If only I had known about the MLS major sooner." 

In our program, about 40 percent to 50 percent of students who apply to our major already have a BS, or even an MS or PhD, in another major (such as microbiology, biology or biomedical studies), but they are either unable to find a job or they find out they can't work in a clinical laboratory without the degree and MLS certification.

In my case, I quickly became fascinated with the profession while working with so many wonderful medical lab scientists and medical lab technologists at DSHS. I learned that I could use my virology experience to get credit toward my certification, and went on to obtain my Specialty in Virology (SV) from the Board of Certification (BOC) of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). The BOC is the primary certification agency for the medical laboratory profession. Eventually, after moving into academia, I acquired my Specialist in Microbiology (SM) and Molecular Biologist (MB) by the same route.

Have you ever wondered who conducts the detailed laboratory testing for your annual exam, such as cholesterol and glucose levels, and analyzes the results? Or who conducts specialized testing for genetic disorders like sickle cell disease? How about those who identify an antibiotic resistant infection like Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and determine which antibiotic is required to save someone's life? Well, if you thought that it was your physician, or perhaps a nurse or someone else you see at your doctor's office or in the hospital, you would be incorrect.

MLS professionals provide up to 70 percent of patients' laboratory testing to physicians so they can provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan, according to a 2002 study in Clinical Leadership and Management Review titled "The Value of the Laboratory Professional in the Continuum of Care." In that study, author Rodney Forsman, Administrative Director Emeritus of the Mayo Clinic Medical Laboratories and President of the Clinical Laboratory Management Association, stated that 94 percent of the objective medical data in the patient record comes from the laboratory professionals.

Doctors rely on laboratory test results to make informed patient diagnoses. Patient history along with physical signs and symptoms are vital, but most diagnoses need confirmation that only laboratory tests can provide. The laboratory professionals also contribute to wellness testing, guiding treatment, and monitoring patient progress.[divider]

Video: 'A Life Saved'

This video by the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) tells the story of how medical laboratorians save lives by assisting with patient diagnosis and treatment:

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Is this profession right for you?

Consider this profession if you:

  • Have a strong interest in science
  • Want a career in health care with minimal patient contact
  • Like challenge and responsibility
  • Like to solve problems
  • Are a team player
  • Work well under pressure
  • Are self-motivated
  • Enjoy working with computers
  • Are detail-oriented
  • Are willing to persevere to find the right answer

What are the job prospects?

The profession is growing "much faster than average," according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a 22 percent increase in employment projected from 2012 to 2022 – twice that of all other occupations. At Texas State University, the job placement rate for students has been 90 percent to 95 percent for the past decade, with most of the remaining students going to graduate school, according to Dr. Rohde. At the University of Delaware, Dr. McLane reports a similar scenario, with a job placement rate of 90 percent to 98 percent. They said students typically receive one or two job offers in their final semester while doing their clinical internships.

This situation is similar in may parts of the US, according to the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS), which states: "Currently there is a shortage in many parts of the US,meaning that graduates can expect employment and higher salaries." 

How much can you earn?

The salary for laboratory professionals varies according to their level and location. According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) 2013 Wage Survey of Clinical Laboratories in the United States, the staff level MT/MLS/CLS national average is $56,430 per year and $77,113 per year at the supervisory level. Salaries are higher for those who become lab directors or faculty members. The full ASCP report is here.

According to PayScale.com, which gathers its information from individual user reports: "A Mid-Career Medical/Clinical Laboratory Technologist earns an average of $22.40 per hour. The skills that increase pay for this job the most are PCR Analysis and Molecular Biology."

Related resources

People often think their lab tests are done by their doctor, like it's done on House, or Dr. Kildare or Grey's Anatomy. In fact, you would probably not want your personal physician to do your lab tests because the specialized skills required are not an integral part of the medical school curriculum.

In a 2008 report in the Annals of Clinical Biochemistry, authors Victoria Khromova and Trevor Gray of Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, UK, reported that the junior doctors they surveyed were more confident in their knowledge of when to request tests than in their ability to interpret the results. In fact, 18 percent of them said they would order a lab test without knowing how to interpret the result. The authors concluded that the elimination of pathology and laboratory medicine from the curriculum in many medical schools is jeopardizing patient safety.  

Ask your physician, nurse, pharmacist or biology graduate about Vitamin C acting as interference in glucose and triglyceride testing, or causes of false positives in pregnancy testing, or World Health Organization (WHO) classifications for Hodgkin disease and diagnostic criteria, or ways to test for swine flu (H1N1) and avian flu (H5N1), or genetic testing modalities for cystic fibrosis, or who is most likely to show antibodies to Kell during a STAT emergency test for life-saving blood in surgery, or any other critical laboratory test and its interpretation. These aspects of lab testing are generally not in the body of knowledge of any of these medical professionals, and yet it is completely in ours.

Formal coursework training in medical laboratory testing comprises a small portion of the curriculum for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and biology graduates. However, for MLS and MLT students, medical laboratory theory for all 1,000+ available lab tests, sources of interference, and connections between test results and diagnoses is the main focus of their studies.

My colleague Dr. Mary Ann McLane, Professor in the Medical Laboratory Sciences Department at the University of Delaware and Past President of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS), emphasized the value of their expertise to the patients:

Medical laboratory scientists are on the cutting edge of determining — by evidence-based practice — the most useful, time-efficient, safest, least costly diagnostic tests to be used for your health care. They are involved in the research needed to bring the best that science and technology can offer into the realm of diagnostic reality, all for the benefit of the patients we serve.

To that end, over 50 MLS professionals from ASCLS volunteer to answer questions daily about lab test results for both patients and clinicians through Lab Tests Online (labtestsonline.org), which has been has been run by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) since it was launched in 2001.

Professor Mary Ann McLane, PhD, MLS (ASCP)CM, works with Sarah Greenwood when she was a student in the Medical Laboratory Sciences Department at the University of Delaware. Greenwood has a BA in Biological Sciences. (Photo by Kathy Atkinson).Through this service, Dr. McLane said, "over 140,000 questions have been answered, saving many lives, relieving confusion about what such tests may mean, and offering follow-up questions for the next clinician visit."

"Lab Tests Online has given a public face to the practice of laboratory medicine," said Executive Producer George Linzer, "and with the support of ASCLS' consumer response network, it has begun to give more public recognition to the valuable work of the laboratory professional."

About 7.25 billion laboratory tests are conducted annually in the US, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. And yet most in the general public have no understanding about our profession and the critical services we provide daily.

You can learn more about our profession and its importance for patients on the ASCLS page Promote the Profession.

For patients, be an advocate for your own health and wellbeing by making sure your laboratory testing is being conducted by a qualified medical laboratory professional, by asking your health-care team about what your laboratory results mean and by visiting labtestsonline.org. You might just be surprised at how much you can learn by understanding your laboratory tests and the professionals who provides that expertise.

How do you become a Medical Laboratory Professional?

Medical laboratory scientists (also known as medical technologists or clinical laboratory scientists) must have a BS degree in medical technology or one of the life sciences.

Medical laboratory technicians must complete a two-year associate degree with similar courses and clinical practicum as the BS degree, but with less emphasis on highly complex laboratory techniques.

 Rebecca Denham, MPH, MLS (ASCP), is a Texas State CLS alumna from 2008. She is currently working at the Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas in Austin, where she was recently promoted to Laboratory Manager. (Photo by Chandler Prude)To work as either a medical laboratory scientist (MLS) or technician (MLT), you need to be certified by the Board of Certification (BOC) of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) once you have a degree.

The best way to prepare for the certification exam is to complete an NAACLS accredited program or clinical internship in medical technology. These programs prepare students with a combination of lectures and clinical rotations in hematology, clinical chemistry, microbiology, mycology, parasitology, immunology, immunohematology (blood bank), and sometimes genetics. They are offered through hospitals and universities and take from two to four years to complete.

To work in some states (such as New York, Florida and California) you'll also need to be licensed. The license is usually obtained after sitting for the ASCP exam. Upon passing, you can then apply for the license. It's very important to understand the requirements of a particular state you will work in versus where you obtain your degree. For example, once students in our CLS program at Texas State University finish our degree and pass the MLS (ASCP) exam, they are able to work in any clinical laboratory in Texas. However, if our students move to California, there may be restrictions on their scope of work until they satisfy the state's requirements to work in a clinical laboratory.

Learn more

There are various categorical and specialty certifications from ASCP (and other certification agencies) that will allow different "routes" to obtaining these credentials. ASCP has a free procedures booklet with information on the different routes to certification, how to register for certification, and how to maintain certification with continuing education. For a complete description of all the routes and requirements, visit the ASCP Board of Certification website.

You can learn about this profession and its importance for patients on the ASCLS page Promote the Profession.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Also, you can do a Web search for your area and "medical laboratory scientist" or "medical technologist" or contact the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). It would also be helpful to visit with an advisor at a local medical laboratory or college.

Sources: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) and American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)

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Elsevier Connect Contributor

Dr. Professor Rodney Rohde, PhD, MS, SV, SM(ASCP)MBRodney E. Rohde is Professor, Research Dean and Program Chair and Director of the Clinical Laboratory Science program in the College of Health Professions of Texas State University, where he spends a great deal of time mentoring and coaching students in this sometimes mysterious and vague path.

Dr. Rohde's background is in public health and clinical microbiology, and his PhD dissertation at Texas State was aligned with his clinical background: MRSA knowledge, learning and adaptation. His research focuses on adult education and public health microbiology with respect to rabies virology, oral rabies wildlife vaccination, antibiotic resistant bacteria, and molecular diagnostics/biotechnology. He has published over 30 research articles, book chapters and abstracts and presented at more than 100 international, national and state conferences. He was awarded the 2012 Distinguished Author Award and the 2007 ASCLS Scientific Research Award for his work with MRSA. Learn more about his work here.

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Elsevier's textbooks on Clinical Laboratory Science

Elsevier publishes many textbooks for Clinical Laboratory Science. Some of the most popular are:

See all of Elsevier's CLS textbooks.



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18 Archived Comments

CB February 13, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Too bad Doctors and Nurses treat us like crap. :-(

Reply
Rodney E. Rohde February 13, 2014 at 6:44 pm

CB,

I think many laboratory professionals certainly fell underappreciated. I've actually taught nursing students and interact with both physicians and nurses. I've always found it's very helpful and synergistic to "educate" all healthcare professionals about what we do. Yes, it's difficult. One person at a time - but, it keeps the wall from going up between us all. Thanks for all you do in the laboratory!

Cindy Reaper February 13, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Excellent article and video. Not only *hidden*, but under appreciated as well. Almost everyone who sees a medical professional (ie: doctor), is touched by the laboratory in some way. Laboratory Science is a wonderfully exciting, fulfilling, exhausting and rewarding career.

Reply
Rodney E. Rohde February 13, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Hi Cindy,

Thanks so much for your comments. I, and many others, totally agree with you. It's an amazing career with many avenues to pursue. I always tell my students that this degree/path is a wonderful "foundation" to build upon in many career channels. Keep spreading the word!! Most general public people do not understand our profession at all.

Danielle K. February 13, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Unfortunately, many labs have resorted to hiring biology students right out of school to perform the testing with only on-the-job training. This means they are also not ASCP board certified until they have their 5 years of experience. How can you teach someone to read a blood smear on a patient with various degrees of immature cells accurately?? In Med Tech school, Hematology was a full semester course in itself, not including the lab portion and the internship! ASCP is allowing the quality to diminish by allowing alternative routes....as the result, it is a dying field...

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Perry Scanlan February 14, 2014 at 1:17 am

Dear Danielle,



I can appreciate your frustration. It is disappointing when people do not understand or appreciate the necessary skill set required to perform our work at the highest levels. I disagree with your comments, this field is thriving especially as colleges and universities move to outcome based models where graduates are also assessed by their ability to find work. As we continue to educate the public, health professionals, and particularly patients we will increase our value to others. We all should focus our energy on educating those who undervalue our work. We have one of the most important professions even if only a small percentage of people realize how important we are to medical care.

Rodney E. Rohde February 14, 2014 at 2:02 am

Hi Danielle,

You are correct, many labs are hiring graduates with a variety of degrees and they are not certified. And, I agree with you that it's very difficult to teach someone all of the complexity of the different laboratory areas. However, I wouldn't blame ASCP. Perhaps, we all should place more emphasis on how hospitals and other laboratories hire non-certified personnel, especially new hires. Non-certified "veterans" may need a route to become certified or grandfathered. I also believe the alternative routes can be valuable because I'm of those who obtained certification via an "alternative" route for my SV, SM and MB credentials. In each instance, it was not diminished because I had multiple degrees in my specialty areas AND I worked for a decade in clinical and public health labs (Texas DSHS and CDC). These combinations of degrees, experience and certification created a very strong, diverse laboratory experience for me.



So...I understand some of your frustration because as a MLS Chair now, I watch and see every day how hard my students work to obtain their degrees. And, I'm AMAZED at the volume and information they must master to become competent. But...many others that have utilized alternative routes worked very hard, as you have to become certified. We are on the same team. It's also difficult to watch a biology major in Texas obtain a job in a hospital laboratory that my certified MLS student wants to work in too. One way for this to get better is for licensure to be in all U.S. states...but, that's another Elsevier Connect article! :-)



I bet ASCP, NAACLS, and ASCLS would agree....we all want and deserve certified laboratory professionals. I appreciate your input and I respect your opinions. Keep on fighting the good fight and spread the word.

Patricia Thomas February 14, 2014 at 10:20 pm

I need to throw in my few cents here, as well. Many facilities may be hiring non-certified personel due to the unavailability of tech graduates but financial pressures are steering many higher ups to see the savings of placing lower paying job seekers into every nich that doesn't strictly require the advanced knowledge of technologists. More and more, my job is only performing or reviewing tests that less skilled people can not perform. Every task that can be performed by a high school graduate is and only the most complex testing is left to me. This is fine but with automation and autoverification, most of the patients testing is never seen by any lab personel. Lets hope the doctors don't assume the testing has passed the muster of a technologist first!

Oh, and our pay could reflect our talents a bit better.

Rodney E. Rohde February 23, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Kelsey,

Congrats on finding "your passion" for the medical laboratory profession. Share your story with others so that they can find out more about this critically important profession. Share this article too!! Good Luck!

Thammy February 13, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Hi. Can you tell me the differences between biomedical science and Medical Laborartory Science? Which one would be good for a career in Medicine? Thank you.

Reply
Rodney E. Rohde February 13, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Hi Thammy,

I would need some clarification about our question regarding “for a career in medicine?” If, for example, you are looking to go to medical school to become a physician, really either major will work for that as well as other pre-med types of majors (Biology, public health, etc.). However, if you want to practice in the clinical laboratory as a MLS/MLT or other specialist (Specialist in Microbiology for example), then the MLS/MLT route is the best way to go. We also believe that the MLS route is a wonderful foundation for medical school. BUT, you may need other pre-requisite coursework not included in the MLS curriculum. For example, you might need physics in some medical school applications. I hope this helps. Good luck!

Thammy February 14, 2014 at 4:30 am

Hi Rodney, I want to be a Haematologist.I just got a little confused. Because most people say is not the same and some says its all the same. But MLS do the hard work than biomedical scientists. I e been always interest about lab science. But i really do not which ways would be better for me. As Biomedical scientists works in medical labs I always thought it was all the same. Now i have to know which way will be better for me. Thank you for all. PS you can delete my messages please thanks

Jesly Roman February 14, 2014 at 1:39 am

Thank for recognized us...

Reply
Rodney E. Rohde February 14, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Hi Jesly,

You are most welcome! Recognition for all medical (clinical) laboratory professionals is critical and needed. Spread the word....

Jane February 14, 2014 at 12:03 pm

I fell into Medical Technology strictly by accident. I was a "non-traditional" student with nursing as my declared major. The only problem was, I knew I didn't want to be a nurse. I wanted to work in the medical field and I loved science, just not nursing. Luckily the university I was attending had a great counseling center and pointed me towards the MT program there. I didn't even know what it was about, or that it was even offered, but looked into it and found it to be a great match! Like most, I thought all that blood went into a black hole and test results came out! It has been a great career and I wouldn't trade it! It would be nice, however, to get the recognition it deserves. Thanks for the article!

Reply
Rodney E. Rohde February 17, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Thanks Jane! I think your experience is not unlike many others that "happen upon" our profession. Hence the need to share this article with any and all. I would love for it to hit the desk/computers of high school and middle school advisors/counselors as well as healthcare oriented teachers. Please feel free to share with any and all!

masood qazi February 15, 2014 at 2:39 am

A very interesting and comprehensive overview of Clinical Medical Technology!

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barry February 17, 2014 at 2:50 pm

In reality,We Medical Technologists work and do our professions as if we are in the backstage doing all the difficult testing and searching for their disease,yet some people(most of them) never heard of our profession and even existed,We may always mistaken as nurses,doctors,medical staff etc. even we are usually not recognized and some of you wrote here that we are under appreciated,that it is also true,for me Medical Technology is one of the noble jobs the field of science ever created,Don't worry if some of you treated by some doctors and nurses inferior to them,just always think that,we may always be in our Dungeon(laboratory) but we always save the patients without waiting for any recognition,thats the true meaning of Medical profession.

Reply
Rodney E. Rohde February 17, 2014 at 11:12 pm

Barry,

Indeed, our profession is a noble one even if we are a bit "hidden" to the healthcare profession and general community. Let's do something about that, OK? Spread the word and keep on persevering!

LAB WORK BLOWS February 18, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Hard to feel appreciated when you are forced to perform tests way below medicare rates. "Client billing" is complete garbage and shows how underappreciated we are. The lab is used by physicians to make money for themselves. It's basically a form of self referral. With CVS and Walmart poised to start doing lab testing, things are going to get worse. We will never make as much money as other health care professionals of similar education. Look for even more consolidation as labs become cost centers for the hospital. Less jobs=less pay. Not to mention the threat of automation, POC testing.

Reply
Rodney E. Rohde February 19, 2014 at 6:20 pm

I think we all can feel unappreciated are unrecognized. But, as Winston Churchill ones said, "You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks." I would like to think that all of "us" can continue to promote of profession in a positive way and also work to educate others that don't know about the issues you mention above and many others. I hope you will agree. If you are not part of the solution, you can become part of the problem. Thanks for your service. I hope you are a member of ASCLS or other laboratory professional organization that can work towards helping with these very topics.

Shivaraj February 19, 2014 at 9:34 am

Excellent article

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Rodney E. Rohde February 19, 2014 at 6:23 pm

THANKS! Pay it forward....

Kelsey February 21, 2014 at 12:55 am

Didn't know about Med Lab Science until I had to make the decision on what I wanted to do for post-secondary education. I always like the health science field but didn't want to become a nurse. Then bam I have discovered MLT. Then the full swing of my program I discovered what the many things this job can do. You literally have 5 jobs in one. Then when people ask what I was doing they were confused. When I explained it they were really shocked that there was an actual position that did the lab work. Now three years later (I am in the MLS program in Ontario, Canada and it's an advanced diploma). I nearly finish my clinical year and going to be writing my certification exam in June. Can't wait to start working as an MLT!! :)

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Samuel February 24, 2014 at 8:12 pm

It's so wonderful reading this article and I encourage every colleague in the field of biomedical laboratory science to rise up and champion this course. I currently serve as the focal person for the National Pathology Week organised by the Royal College of Pathologists of the UK. Since we started out in Nigeria, we have witnessed tremendous successes as many young students now consider applying to study Medical Laboratory Sciences in Nigerian universities. Our patients too are getting to know how we impact positively on their health care and safety. I will like to use this medium to invite everyone to this years international pathology day slated for 5th November 2014. Please try to hold an event to mark this day in your various centers. You can contact the national lead at the Royal College of Pathologists on suzy.lishman@pbh-tr.nhs.uk

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Rodney E. Rohde February 26, 2014 at 4:22 pm

THANKS Samuel~!! Keep up the great work. Doc R

David February 25, 2014 at 12:57 am

A good article. Very informative

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Rodney E. Rohde February 26, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Thanks David...keep sharing the article! Doc R

Naomi March 1, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Thanks for the great overview of the value of laboratory professionals. I am currently in the process of applying to admissions to training programs for CLS, and am underwhelmed by how few training options there are in my state (CA). It's such an important part of the healthcare system and yet interested students have a terribly difficult time getting the required training for their license. Hopefully increased interest in the profession will lead to increased opportunities. For me, I just can't wait to get to work!

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Rodney E. Rohde March 3, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Naomi,

Thanks so much for the kind comments. I always advise students to consider multiple programs both within their own state and outside of their state as well. Just be sure to understand the landscape of certification versus licensure in the state you obtain your degree AND where you plan to practice. It can be different between states and that might require some additonal academic advising and planning. It would be best if licensure were required in ALL states, but that's a different can of worms. Perhaps a future article!! Good luck and keep the passion!

elizabeth burjan March 17, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Congratulations Dr.Rodney E Rohde. I would like to give highlighting for two the important facts, these are facts figure in your article.

First:"MLS professionals provide answers to life-and-death decisions every day". Second:"......stated that 94 percent of the objective medical data in the patient record comes from the laboratory professionals".

Till now I haven't been an able to read these recognitons.

I've worked as Medical Laboratory Professional in my Country (Hungary), I've worked as researcher too in the fields of bacteriology and cell biology but it was heavy for me to accept with the doctors the laboratoriumy professionality of work.

I wish you a succesfully and to continue your experiences about laboratory work's importance.

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Aimee Sacks, MT(ASCP) March 20, 2014 at 4:01 am

Great, informitive article, I thank you for publishing it. I in turn shared it on my Linked In profile because the majority of my professional friends have no idea what it is I do for a living. I have spent a lot of time explaining what we do and why we are indeed a valuable member of the medical team, but like many others often am discouraged by the lack of recognition and unequal pay relative to other medical professionals with the same degree level.



I have worked in a Pediatric Hematology Oncology Laboratory and countless times have been the first one to look upon the impressive display of blast cells in a new leukemia patient-it is a daunting and unspeakable level of responsibility and team effort to work up a new patient with a life threatening illness such as the one featured in the video. My education prepared me well and was it unbelievably difficult but I was greatly rewarded in the opportunity to serve others by that particular position.



I want to remain positive about our field but do hesitate to recommend it as a career choice because the pay is inadequate to support a family in my opinion. Individually yes, but unless you are in a dual income situation or you are a laboratory director I do not think the reimbursement for the level of difficulty for the coursework required is at all adequate. I have moved all over the country and held all type of positions but currently earn $18 with twenty years experience. Granted I work in a clinic setting and much of the work I do is waived testing, but it is a Med Tech position. No where I have worked has allowed for salary negotiation based on former experience or past level of pay. I made $4 an hour more in another state doing the exact same level of work, and it was a MLT position. I work in a clinic because I am a single mother and have to have day shift. I do agree there are other professions (such as biology degree) that earn even less, but they also do not have the same level of course work. I love lab work, I love interacting with patients and I love the science behind it....but I am uncertain if I could recommend this field with a clear conscience knowing what I know regarding earnings potential. The local hospital only offers 7 on 7 off positions, several of the days being 12 hour shifts, which are impossible for someone like me. Shift work is also quite difficult for a family environment...without seniority I do not know how single parents manage hospital employment. The hospital pays better...and it should-but it is another draw back of our field.



I will always be enthusiastic in my heart about what we do and why we are important...I can keep beating the drum so to speak...but struggling taking care of 3 people on what I earn is counterintuitive at best. I do very much appreciate your article and hope you continue writing and promoting our field as often as you can. I do believe recognition is our biggest obstacle in promoting our profession. Thank you again for your well written and concise article about the field of Medical Laboratory Scientists.

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Dr. Rodney E. Rohde March 23, 2014 at 11:54 pm

Hi Aimee,

Thanks so much for your response and for sharing it with your friends. Much of what you speak about is so near and dear to our profession. Ultimately, we need an identity and we are working very hard on that as a profession. I hope you are a member of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ascls.org) because these items you so passionately discuss are some of the very things we all are working on. Without going writing a thesis, licensure must occur for our field if we truly want to gain a professional identity. As well as we all have to get "out" of our labs and share our amazing knowledge and how we play one of the MOST important roles in patient's lives. We provide ~75% of the information needed for a proper diagnosis and without us care would not be possible, period. I hope you will join me in using your passion and expertise to join our cause and fight to share this important story. Thanks again and I wish you the best!

David April 2, 2014 at 3:10 am

In Chile, this profession is named Medical Technology with mention in clinical bioanalysis, hematology and blood bank and also is one of the professions most unknown by an important part of the country population, but we know that our job saves lifes and it is so relevant in the diagnostic of the ills, but I think that everybody wants that its work will be recognized by others.

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Rodney E. Rohde April 2, 2014 at 2:16 pm

David,

Thanks for commenting about the profession in Chile. I guess we all have to keep working to spread the word about the important work that we do in regards to how it plays a critical and vital role to the patient outcome. Please, share this story with your social media network, family, friends, and colleagus. And, ask them to SHARE it too!

Take care...Doc R

Billy Beaumont April 3, 2014 at 3:35 pm

I don't know how long you guys been MT's or whatever moniker you prefer but in the 30+ years I have been an MT(ASCP) the #1 complaint has been recognition for what you do. What kind of appreciation do you want exactly? A parade? Your own TV show? Placards in the hall? Free Lunch? I should like to point out MT's can't do what Doctors do or what Nurses do so please get over your "Doc's don't know" inferiority complex. Doctor's and Nurses don't treat us like crap. People treat people like crap all over in every job at every age level. When people call you be cheerful and helpful not anal. Over the years I have heard more MT's act like assholes on the phone then I care to admit. Get over yourselves. Recognition is earned on an individual level because you took the time to be helpful all the time, every time without attitude or expectations. Being an MT has been a good job. It has made my life possible. I don't need proclamations from other health care providers as to my worth to know I have helped. Probably not what you want to read but tuff

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Mary Ann McLane April 3, 2014 at 6:27 pm

I definitely hear you. As with anything in life, this situation has two faces. The one side I continually try to work on changing is the general public thinking it just takes a button pusher to do their tumor marker testing... or my state senator thinking it is okay to permit a dentist to be given the title and role of "Laboratory Director" when they have not done any lab quality control (much less an actual lab test) in their life... or my family thinking that laboratory testing is done the way they see it on HOUSE or Grey's Anatomy, with the interns eating their lunch in one corner of the lab or in the morgue... or my fellow lab colleagues believing that it is sufficient during Medical Lab Professionals Week to do in-lab contests and get free ice cream but would never think that it is the best opportunity to be IN PERSON in the lobby or close to the cafeteria with the trifold display of what we do, handing out flyers from Lab Tests Online or the Patient Safety Committee of ASCLS.... To those who complain "No one knows what I do", my usual reply is "and what have you done to change that? Let's do something together, and here are 35 ideas from my professional society, ASCLS, to give us a running start and empowerment!"

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