Medical Laboratory Sciences

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Field description

Medical laboratory testing plays a crucial role in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease in patients. Laboratory tests help determine the presence, extent or absence of disease and monitor the effectiveness of treatment. An estimated 60 to 70 percent of all decisions regarding a patient's diagnosis, treatment, hospital admission and discharge are based on laboratory test results.

Medical laboratory scientists (also referred to as clinical laboratory scientists or medical technologists) and clinical laboratory technicians (also known as medical laboratory technicians) perform most laboratory tests.

Medical laboratory scientists analyze test results and relay them to physicians. They perform complex chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic and bacteriological tests, requiring significant analytical and independent judgment.

Medical laboratory scientists perform a wide variety of functions, including:

  • Make microscopic examination and analysis of blood, body fluids (for example, urine, peritoneal fluid, cerebrospinal fluid), tissues and cells
  • Identify fluids for chemical analytes, such as glucose and cholesterol
  • Analysis of body fluids for chemical analytes such as glucose and cholesterol
  • Cross match blood for transfusion
  • Monitor patient outcomes
  • Perform differential cell counts looking for abnormal cells to aid in the diagnosis of anemia and leukemia
  • Utilize sophisticated equipment and instruments that can perform a number of tests simultaneously, as well as microscopes, cell counters, and other high-precision laboratory equipment
  • Write standardized operating procedures, and establish quality assurance programs to monitor and ensure the accuracy of test results

Career opportunities

The job forecast for medical laboratory science graduates is very positive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical laboratory scientists and technicians is expected to grow by 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The volume of laboratory tests continues to increase with both population growth and the development of new types of tests.

Medical laboratory scientists' analytical, scientific and technical skills are a valuable and desired asset for employment opportunities. At Mayo Clinic, medical laboratory scientists interested in advancement opportunities may choose from several tracks:

  • Development
  • Technical
  • Education
  • Quality
  • Management

Earnings potential

Mayo Clinic offers competitive salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual earnings of medical laboratory scientists were $61,070 in May 2016 with the lowest 10 percent earning less than $41,550, and the highest 10 percent earning more than $85,160.

Professional organizations

May 09, 2017