Medical Laboratory Technician
(Pathology Technician, Pathology Technical Officer)
Preparing samples for testing
Medical laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and other procedures used in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the human body.
Duties and Tasks
Medical laboratory technicians may perform the following tasks:
- set up equipment used in the laboratory and maintain it in a clean condition
- prepare and stain slides of microorganisms for microscopic examination
- under supervision, collect blood samples, perform blood counts and carry out tests to determine bleeding, coagulation time, blood types and other characteristics
- communicate results of tests to the medical officers who have requested them.
Some areas in which medical laboratory technicians may work are:
- Anatomical Pathology where they process samples of tissue that have been surgically removed from the body so that the pathologist may make a diagnosis.
- Clinical Chemistry (Biochemistry) where they test blood and body fluids to determine abnormalities in the blood, often using specialised instrumentation.
- Cytology where they prepare and stain smears of body tissues or fluids and examine them with a microscope, looking for cancer or cell changes that may lead to cancer.
- Haematology where they examine blood, work out its type, perform blood counts and generally assist in the study of blood and its disorders in order to diagnose diseases such as leukaemia and iron deficiency anaemia.
- Medical Microbiology where they receive samples such as wound swabs, urine and faeces, help to isolate and identify microorganisms associated with various diseases and infections and examine samples for evidence of these microorganisms.
A phlebotomist practises the drawing of blood for therapeutic, transfusion, diagnostic or experimental purposes.
School subjects that include some aspect of BIOLOGY provide a useful background to these jobs. In some cases a biology-related subject is a pre-requisite for entry to courses that provide the training for the job.
School subjects that include some aspects of CHEMISTRY provide a useful background to these jobs. In some cases a chemistry-related subject is a pre-requisite for entry to courses that provide the training for the job.
School subjects that include some aspect of MATHEMATICS provide a useful background to these jobs. In some cases a mathematics-related subject is a pre-requisite for entry to courses that provide the training for the job.
School subjects that include some aspect of PHYSICS provide a useful background to these jobs. In some cases a physics-related subject is a pre-requisite for entry to courses that provide the training for the job.
Use of precision or semi-precision tools or instruments or deft hand movements are required for these occupations. Included are jobs where poor co-ordination or incomplete use of hands or fingers may make tasks dangerous or difficult to undertake.
These jobs require you to be able to see clearly to examine items close-up. It covers jobs where poor vision e.g. tunnel vision, could make the work place unsafe or the job difficult to undertake, e.g. draftsperson working with detailed drawings; checkout operator reading dockets; work requiring good hand-eye co-ordination for working with precision or semi-precision tools.
Workers performing these jobs would usually be expected to spend more than three-quarters of their day indoors, in an office, factory or other enclosed area protected from the weather.
These jobs require moderate or better reading and writing skills. Workers may be expected to prepare, understand or act on written materials, such as letters or reports. People may wish to avoid these jobs if their reading or writing English skills are limited to a small range of words or phrases and symbols. Jobs remaining may still require very basic reading or writing skills.
Included are jobs providing health care diagnosis and treatment, such as general medicine, pharmacy, optometry, radiography, speech therapy, dental health, etc. Also covered are community and welfare services, such as social work, family and children services, and counselling, and personal services such as hairdressing and funeral services.
These jobs involve WORKING WITH IDEAS to investigate or seek solutions to scientific, technical, social or other issues. Activities include observing, researching, analysing and interpreting results. The ability to develop theories, apply logic and explore abstract ideas in a specialist area of knowledge is important.
These jobs involve WORKING WITH THINGS, using the hands, or special tools or equipment to make, fix, install or adjust them. Activities include doing practical and physical tasks, and may require an understanding of how equipment or machinery works.
Jobs in this group usually require completion of secondary education and/or completion of some further study of a vocational nature, such as a Diploma or an Advanced Diploma.
Medical laboratory technicians work as part of a team with doctors, scientists and laboratory assistants.
- attention to detail
- able to work accurately and with minimal supervision
- able to do repetitive work without losing concentration.
Checking a sample for testing