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Medical Laboratory Technology FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MEDICAL LABORATORY TECHNICIAN (MLT) AND A MEDICAL TECHNOLOGIST (MT)?

test tubes

While both the MLT and the MT may be certified or registered by one or more nationally-recognizedprofessional organizations, MLTs have a two-year associate degree and MTs have a bachelor’s degree.MTs usually perform more complexanalyses than technicians are trained to do and serve in supervisory positions. In addition, MTs generally earn a higher income than technicians do and have more opportunities for advancement.

 

WHAT DOES A MEDICAL LABORATORY TECHNICIAN DO?

Working under the supervision of a medical technologist or physician, a medical laboratory technician (MLT) performs routine tests in all areas of the clinical laboratory. Medical Laboratory Technicians examine and analyze body fluids and cells. They look for bacteria, parasites, and other microorganisms; analyze the chemical content of fluids; match blood for transfusions; and test for drug levels in the blood that show how a patient is responding to treatment. They use microscopes, cell counters, and other sophisticated laboratory equipment to provide the physician with accurate and quality laboratory results.

DO MEDICAL LABORATORY TECHNICIANS RECEIVE TRAINING IN ALL AREAS OF THE LABORATORY?

Medical Laboratory Technicians are trained in all areas of the clinical laboratory to include:

  • Clinical Chemistry

The clinical chemistry department performs hundreds of quantitative analyses on a variety of body fluids. Common chemistry procedures include testing for glucose, cholesterol, hormones, and electrolytes.

  • Blood Bank (Immunohematology)lab tech looking into microscope

The blood bank provides blood typing and compatibility testing
for both donors and recipients and ensures the safety of the blood supply.

  • Immunology/Serology

Immunologic/serologic testing evaluates antibodies and/or antigens that may be indicative of many types of infectious disease. This is important in not only confirming a diagnosis, but also in treating and managing various conditions.

  • Microbiology

The microbiology section identifies microorganisms that may be causing disease (pathogens). The microbiology department also provides information regarding appropriate antibiotics to use as treatment for various pathogens.

  • Urinalysis

The urinalysis department screens urine samples for evidence of kidney disease or bladder infections.

  • Coagulation

Coagulation procedures are performed to identify possible bleeding or clotting disorders. Coagulation testing is also used to monitor anticoagulant therapy.

  • Hematology

They hematology department performs tests that are important in diagnosing many disorders such as anemia and leukemia.

WHERE DO MEDICAL LABORAOTRY TECHNICIANS WORK?

Medical Laboratory Technicians have numerous choices of practice settings. They work in hospitals, physician offices, clinics, public health facilities, reference laboratories, research laboratories, and forensic laboratories. In addition, governmental agencies at the federal, state, and local level also seek the services of medical laboratory technicians.

CAN A MEDICAL LABORATORY TECHNICIAN BECOME A MEDICAL TECHNOLOGIST?

Medical Laboratory Technicians can advance and become technologists through additional education and experience. Many colleges and universities offer two-year programs that allow practicing MLTs to complete their bachelor’s degree to become a MT.