MLT Course: Expectations vs. Reality
You have decided to become a medical lab technician and you’ve chosen the school where you’re going to receive your training. You may be wondering what life will be like as a student in the program. Below are some common expectations that new students have, along with the realities== that they will find when they begin their medical lab technician course.
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You’ll be surrounded by patients
Medical lab technicians are not physicians or clinicians. As a medical laboratory technician, you work behind the scenes. This is a very important distinction to make when you are thinking about entering this field. You will not see patients or have any contact with them nor make recommendations on treatments.
Instead, you will be responsible for collecting and processing samples to diagnose and treat disease. It is also important to realize that this job may be stressful at times, especially if you are prone to being squeamish.
Becoming certified and licensed as a medical lab tech takes time and money.
Becoming certified and licensed as a medical laboratory technician does take time and money. But in the long run, it’s well worth it because once you’re certified and licensed, your earning potential will increase significantly.
Being a Medical Lab Technician will be boring.
This is one of the most common misconceptions about this career, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s a lot of variety in this career path.
You’ll be working with skilled professionals on advanced equipment to process patient samples and clinical testing. Not only does this produce meaningful results for patients, but your work also contributes to medical research and helps doctors make informed decisions about treating their patients.
Medical lab technicians do more than just collect samples. They also often use sophisticated equipment to analyze various bodily fluids. This can include blood, urine, spinal fluid, bone marrow, or even tissue samples from biopsies.
By using specific techniques and instruments, medical lab techs can determine if there are any irregularities in these samples that could indicate disease or illness. Medical laboratory technicians have a direct impact on the diagnosis of patients and their treatment plans.
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You’ll just be pushing buttons all day.
While computerized systems do play a role in the lab, there’s often a lot more to it than that. For example, phlebotomy technicians draw blood from patients while they interact directly with patients. With the right training and experience, you could also get more involved in setting up labs and teaching others how to use lab equipment or interpret results. There are even career paths that allow you to specialize in microbiology or histotechnology (the study of cell and tissue samples).
You’ll have long hours at work around the clock, every day of the week and you’ll end up spending your entire day inside a lab
The reality is that medical lab technicians work in many different settings — though they’re most commonly found in hospitals and private labs. In addition to being involved with specimen collection and testing, many MLS professionals also perform regular blood tests and prepare blood products for transfusion.
You’ll enjoy high salaries right away.
As a medical lab technician, you can expect to make around $15 an hour when you first start. The median annual salary is around $55,990 per year (BLS May 2020), but this varies depending on where you live and the type of institution you work in. Your salary will improve over time as you gain experience and may even be higher than average if you choose to work in a large hospital or private labs (which means more responsibility).
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If you’re thinking about pursuing a career as a medical lab technician, you should know that it’s an incredibly rewarding job and one that offers a lot of room for growth. As a medical lab technician (MLT), you’ll have the opportunity to play an important role in the healthcare industry.
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