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What is a Medical Lab Scientist?

I have been where you are.

At a crossroads. Just finishing up school and now what? Which path do you decide on with your newly minted science degree?

Or, have you caught yourself thinking, “There must be more, this job just isn’t cutting it anymore.” I am sure that you love science – that is why you are here.

Did you dream of curing cancer? Finding the next miracle drug? I did.

You want a job that fills you up. Inspires you. Keeps you learning and wanting more.

In healthcare, you can combine your love of science with your desire to make the world a better place. Follow your passion, help people and save lives.


Let’s have a look at what it means to be a Medical Laboratory Scientist.

What is an MLS?

Often tucked away in a basement you will find a bustling work environment dedicated to giving patients fast, reliable test results – the clinical laboratory.

This place is always alive with the hum of high-tech instruments and the chatter of laboratory professionals hard at work.

The people working here are a vital part of the healthcare team.

They are medical laboratory scientists (MLS).

MLS work processing specimens, analyzing body fluids, and delivering accurate results to providers. 70% of medical decisions are a direct result of laboratory test data.

Doctors rely on our lab results to diagnose disease, determine treatment plans and ensure that patients recovery every single day.

From blood draw to diagnosis

“Let’s run some tests,” says your doctor. She sends you down to the draw station where the phlebotomist remarks, “This won’t hurt a bit.” You feel a small prick. Quickly, he collects the blood into several tubes. He labels them and sends you on your way.

Next, your blood is sent to the lab – this is where we come in.

Hello and welcome to the clinical lab!

Here a lab tech processes your blood and hands it to an MLS.

He loads your blood tubes onto the automated instrument. Pops it into a centrifuge or uncaps it and pipettes a sample from it. Ba da bing. Ba da boom. The results are in.

From there he analyzes your data. Taking the time to consider the normal values and critical ranges. Carefully he enters the results into your medical record. Now it is up to your doctor to take a look and determine the best course of treatment.

Accurate and precise laboratory data is vital for keeping patients, like you, healthy.  

Duties of an MLS

Medical laboratory scientists’ are responsible for:

  • Analyzing body fluids (blood, urine, tissue samples)

  • Ensuring laboratory instruments are calibrated and functioning properly

  • Determining if results are consistent or if the sample might be contaminated

  • Operating state-of-the-art lab equipment

  • Visualizing cells under a microscope or crystals in a body fluid

  • Logging data from tests and entering it in the patient’s record

  • Discussing results, lab tests or procedures with nurses and physicians

  • Supervising or training other lab techs

There is a lot to be done in a medical lab.

Day in the life

Imagine a day in the life of a typical MLS…

You slip into your scrubs before heading to the hospital for your shift.

Arriving in the lab, you are greeted with your fellow lab techs preparing for the day. Setting out the necessary reagents. Wiping down surfaces and instruments.

The most critical parts of an MLS’s job is ensuring quality data is given to the providers. To ensure this quality controls (QC) are run every day on every instrument in the lab.

You grab the QC reagent out of the fridge. Once prepared, you load the controls onto the instrument. As soon as they pass, you are ready to start loading patient samples.

The morning rush picks up.

You and your co-workers kick into gear.

Processing and loading samples on to the instrument. Releasing results to the patient’s chart. Calling the emergency room to report a critically low result. Requesting a re-draw on a patient’s sample that came in hemolyzed.

Your new career

You want a career that will encourage you to grow. That will fill you with passion and ignite your dedication to science.

You are worth more than that dead-end job. You can save lives with your work – every day. You are helping to discover disease and assisting in determining the treatment plan. The medical laboratory scientist is an essential part of the healthcare team.

This career needs people like you who are willing to work hard, make a difference and search for solutions.

Answer your calling.

Your new career is waiting for you.

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