Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Celebrate National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week

I bet you hardly ever think about some of the professionals your doctor depends on to correctly diagnose and treat you. But laboratory professionals play a crucial role in helping doctors determine the cause of your illness and how to treat it. And they hardly ever get a “thank you.” So here’s one from me, on behalf of all of us: thank you, lab professionals!

To showcase all the work these fine folks accomplish and to celebrate National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, I talked with LifeBridge Health medical technologists Mary Scott and Cynthia Heggins-Sawyer, along with other members of the Laboratory Activities Committee (LAC), to answer some common questions about life in the lab.

What happens in the laboratory?

The lab helps determine how the major functions of the body are working (i.e. kidneys, liver, bone marrow, heart). We provide test results that aid doctors in making an accurate diagnosis. We perform complex testing such as H1N1 and MRSA identification, cancer markers, HIV and hepatitis testing.

What are some of the different jobs in the laboratory?

Throughout the lab, there are phlebotomists, lab assistants, medical technologists, histotechnologists, pathologist assistants, pathologists, managers, lab directors and administrative assistants. The education required for these professions range from a high school diploma to a M.D. or Ph.D.

How does a lab fit into the overall picture of health care?

Seventy percent of the medical decisions that physicians make are based on laboratory results.

What are the new
innovations in the lab?

The lab uses many types of instrumentation on a daily basis to meet the demands and needs of the hospital and the patients. There are always advancements in technology and methodologies that allow for more efficient and accurate test results.

What type of career satisfaction do you get from your chosen profession?

We help save lives. We help aid in the proper diagnosis of patients, as well as provide the results that are used to monitor treatments. We feel good knowing that we make a difference in someone’s life.

Are there any common misconceptions about the lab?

The laboratory is not just the four walls in which it is contained, but the people within them performing the testing. Our job is very personal. We treat the samples that we test as if they belonged to a member of our family.

To learn more about a career in the labs of LifeBridge Health, visit www.lifejobs.org

-Sandra Crockett

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