Helping Behind the Scenes: 5 Advantages to Being a Medical Lab Professional

If you’re looking for a career in healthcare behind the scenes, being a medical lab professional could be a great option.

Physicians and other clinicians rely heavily on lab testing to help care for patients. That means the medical lab professionals who conduct those tests are vitally important. As the volume of testing grows and new types of testing emerge, medical lab professionals will continue to be in great demand.

If you’d like to play an active, hands-on role in the healthcare field but aren’t necessarily drawn to working directly with patients, becoming a medical lab professional could be a great fit for you.

Below, I’ll describe five advantages to being a medical lab professional. But first, let’s take a closer look at the professions I’m talking about.

 

Understanding the roles of medical lab professionals

There are two types of medical lab professionals who commonly perform testing. They vary in the education required and in the kinds of responsibilities they typically have.

1. Medical lab technicians

Medical lab technicians generally work in clinics and other healthcare facilities that provide lab services. They use specialized medical instruments and automated technology to conduct a variety of testing and analysis on specimens taken from patients.

Although they may occasionally have direct patient contact, most of their tasks are conducted within the lab.

A common path to becoming a medical lab technician involves completing a two-year associate degree program. Note that a medical lab technician can pursue further education to become a medical lab scientist (see directly below).

2. Medical lab scientists

Medical lab scientists commonly perform more advanced hands-on lab tests in hospitals and large clinics. These procedures often go beyond the more automated processes that a medical lab technician is likely to perform. In addition, medical lab scientists often take on lab leadership roles.

Working as a medical lab scientist requires at least a bachelor’s degree. Note that there are a number of options you can take to obtain that degree, including a bachelor’s degree completion program.

Let’s now turn to the advantages of a career as a medical lab professional.

1. Become a healthcare professional within a shorter amount of time

If you’re interested in a healthcare career but are concerned about the time and expense it can take to earn an advanced professional degree, pursuing a career as a medical lab professional could be an excellent option.

For example, you could be working full-time in a medical lab environment in as little as two years by earning the appropriate associate degree. In fact, if you have transferable credits, that time could be even shorter. (See How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician for more information.)

And with approximately another two years of education, you can obtain a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science. This can open up additional opportunities for taking on leadership positions and conducting more advanced lab procedures. (See How to Become a Medical Laboratory Scientist for more information.)

2. Choose a profession with a bright future

Although there are no guarantees when it comes to obtaining employment, you should know the current — and expected — demand for medical lab professions is high.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “70% of today’s medical decisions depend on laboratory test results.” In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has served to underscore just how crucial medical lab professionals are.

Another encouraging indicator is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which projects a positive job growth rate for medical lab professionals over the next decade. (Note: The BLS uses the terms clinical laboratory technicians for medical lab technicians and clinical laboratory technologists for medical lab scientists.)

3. Channel a science background into a valued healthcare profession

If you obtain a medical lab degree, you’re going to have a specific healthcare profession to enter upon graduation. This isn’t necessarily the case if, for example, you major in a subject like biology.

In fact, people who are drawn to medical lab education programs may already have college science credits and even job experience. But what they lack are the credentials to establish a specific career in healthcare.

An associate degree in medical lab technology or a bachelor’s degree in medical lab science can change that.

4. Enjoy a schedule that fits with your lifestyle

Medical lab technicians are typically employed at clinics. That means they generally work steady weekday shifts, during regular daytime hours, with occasional weekend rotations. Also, medical laboratory technicians usually have plenty of opportunities for part-time positions.

Medical lab scientists, who often have positions at hospitals, may work daytime shifts as well as evenings, weekends, and holidays. Note that working non-daytime shifts often comes with additional pay on top of the base hourly wage.

In either case, as a medical lab professional you’ll likely be able to find a schedule that fits well with your lifestyle and your responsibilities outside of work.

5. Play a key role in helping care for patients

Although you may not have a lot of direct interaction with patients, as a medical lab professional you still play a vital part in caring for them. And that can be incredibly rewarding.

On a daily basis, you’ll be using specialized medical instruments and cutting-edge technology to conduct a variety of testing and analyses on specimens taken from patients.

The resulting information helps physicians and other healthcare providers make critical decisions in the prevention, diagnosis, monitoring, or treatment of illnesses and diseases.

 

Take the next step and start exploring programs

Becoming a medical lab professional gives you the opportunity to join the exciting and ever-expanding field of healthcare — while also working behind the scenes without extensive patient interaction.

If that sounds appealing to you, I strongly suggest you take the next step and begin researching medical lab programs.

 


Jessica Hoernemann, MS, MLS(ASCP), is an assistant professor and the program chair for the Medical Laboratory Technology and Medical Laboratory Science programs at Northwestern Health Sciences University.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

12 Grants Awarded to Fund New Treatments of Rare Diseases

A third of the new awards aim to accelerate cancer research, and another 25% of the new awards fund studies evaluating drug products for rare endocrine disorders.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced this week that it has awarded 12 new clinical trial research to enhance the development of medical products for patients with rare diseases. The grants, which total more than $18 million over the next four years, were awarded to principal investigators from academia and industry across the United States through the Orphan Products Clinical Trials Grants Program.

The awarded grants include:

  • Alkeus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Cambridge, Massachusetts), Leonide Saad, phase 2 study of ALK-001 for the treatment of Stargardt disease – $1.75 million over four years
  • Arizona State University-Tempe Campus (Tempe, Arizona), Keith Lindor, phase 2 study of oral vancomycin for the treatment of primary sclerosing cholangitis – $2 million over four years
  • Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles), Shlomo Melmed, phase 2 study of seliciclib for the treatment of Cushing disease – $2 million over four years
  • Columbia University of New York (New York), Yvonne Saenger, phase 1 study of talimogene laherparepvec for the treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer – $750,000 over three years
  • Emory University (Atlanta), Eric Sorscher, phase 1/2 study of Ad/PNP fludarabine for the treatment of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma – $1.5 million over three years
  • Fibrocell Technologies, Inc. (Exton, Pennsylvania), John Maslowski, phase 1/2 study of gene-modified ex-vivo autologous fibroblasts for the treatment of dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa – $1.5 million over four years
  • Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore), Amy Dezern, phase 1/2 study of CD8-reduced T cells for the treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome or acute myeloid leukemia – $750,000 over three years
  • Oncolmmune, Inc. (Rockville, Maryland) Yang Liu, phase 2b study of CD24Fc for the prevention of graft versus host disease – $2 million over four years
  • Patagonia Pharmaceuticals, LLC (Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey), Zachary Rome, phase 2 study of PAT-001 (isotretinoin) for the treatment of congenital ichthyosis – $1.5 million over three years
  • The General Hospital Corporation (Boston), Stephanie Seminara, phase 2 study of kisspeptin for the treatment of dopamine agonist intolerant hyperprolactinemia – $1.4 million over four years
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis), Kyriakie Sarafoglou, phase 2a study of subcutaneous hydrocortisone infusion pump for the treatment of congenital adrenal hyperplasia – $1.4 million over three years
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, North Carolina), Matthew Laughon, phase 2 study of sildenafil for the prevention of bronchopulmonary dysplasia – $2 million over four years

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

China Withholding Deadly Flu Samples from U.S. Researchers

Americans have zero immunity against the deadly H7N9 flu, and China is refusing to share much-needed samples with U.S. Researchers hoping to combat a potential outbreak.

More than a year after a deadly H7N9 avian influenza outbreak spiked in China, infecting 766, U.S. researchers have yet to receive samples of the viral strain to help them develop vaccines and treatments to combat it, despite persistent requests from officials and research institutions, according to reporting from The New York Times.

A new strain of H7N9 first surfaced in China in 2013, infecting both humans and animals, though the National Institutes of Health has said the strain is not easily transmitted between humans—most human infections were in those who had contact with live poultry or visited markets where the birds were sold. Still, it is concerning, as there have been five significant outbreaks of the virus, which has a near 40% fatality rate, and, if it mutates, it has the potential to cause a pandemic, as most people—especially Americans—have little to no immunity against it, making research essential.

Under an agreement established by the World Health Organization, participating countries—which has, until this point, included China—must transfer influenza samples with pandemic potential to predetermined research centers around the world, in a “timely manner.”

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

FDA Supports New Steps to Further Nicotine Replacement Therapy Research

Use of FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy products may double the likelihood of a successful attempt to quit smoking.

In a statement released this month from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., it was announced that the agency is taking new steps to support the development of nicotine replacement drug therapies (NRTs) to assist smokers in their efforts to quit.

“As a public health agency, there is no greater impact we can have to improve the health of our nation than to significantly reduce the rate of tobacco-related disease and death. Through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s comprehensive framework for regulating nicotine and tobacco, we’re developing policies that support the possibility of a world where combustible cigarettes could no longer create or sustain addiction. A key part of this framework are steps to pave the way for products that help currently addicted smokers move away from the deadliest form of nicotine delivery,” Gottlieb said in the statement, which was issued on August 3, 2018.

Gottlieb goes on to say that, “The development of novel NRT products, regulated as new drugs, is a critical part of our overall strategy on nicotine.”

The CDC reports that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol, and that 70% of adult smokers in the United States want to quit, with nearly half trying to quit each year and only few succeeding. Research has shown that use of FDA-approved NRT products may double the likelihood of a successful quit attempt.

The FDA’s Nicotine Steering Committee, established in September of 2017, has been evaluating new, evidence-based opportunities to advance NRT products, and last week, the FDA released the first of two draft guidances aimed at supporting the development of novel, inhaled nicotine replacement therapies, similar to current over-the-counter pharmaceutical NRT products, that could be submitted to the FDA for approval as new drugs.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

Philanthropists Are Getting Behind a New Push for Government Science Funding

Only one in four Americans believes the U.S. government’s role in funding research is irreplaceable, according to a study by ScienceCounts.

from Inside Philanthropy

A handful of private funders have joined several professional societies and a couple of corporate partners in support of ScienceCounts, an emerging effort to protect government funding of science by bolstering public support.

Read More →

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

BU Wins $20M for NSF Engineering Research Center

The recipient’s ultimate goal is to advance nano-bio-manufacturing methods that could lead to large-scale fabrication of functional heart tissue, which could replace diseased or damaged muscle after a heart attack.

from BU.edu

Boston University has won a $20 million, five-year award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create a multi-institution Engineering Research Center (ERC), with the goal of synthesizing personalized heart tissue for clinical use. The grant, which is renewable for a total of 10 years and $40 million, is designed to accelerate an area of engineering research—in this case, bioengineering functional heart tissue—that is likely to spur societal change and economic growth within a decade. “The goal is moving from the basic research capability to a technology that could be disruptive,” says BU College of Engineering Dean Kenneth Lutchen, who notes that the ERC program is designed to stimulate translation of research to practice by facilitating worldwide corporate, clinical, and institutional partnerships. “The center will transform cardiovascular care by synthesizing breakthroughs in nanotechnology and manufacturing with tissue engineering and regenerative medicine,” he says.

Read More →

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

Man Moves Paralyzed Legs Using Device That Stimulates Spinal Cord

Researchers say these results offer further evidence that a combination of this technology and rehabilitation may help patients with spinal cord injuries regain control.

from Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic researchers used electrical stimulation on the spinal cord and intense physical therapy to help a man intentionally move his paralyzed legs, stand and make steplike motions for the first time in three years.

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Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

5 Researchers Share $500,000 Prize for Work on Gene Editing

The recipients of the annual Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research are being recognized for their contributions related to the development of the tool, called CRISPR-Cas9.

from Washington Post

The recipients of the annual Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research were announced Tuesday. They are being recognized for their contributions related to the development of the tool, called CRISPR-Cas9.

The recipients are: Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Germany; Jennifer Doudna, University of California, Berkeley; Luciano Marraffini, The Rockefeller University, New York City; Francisco J.M. Mojica, University of Alicante, Spain; Feng Zhang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

After 15 Years of Failure, What Can Pharma Offer Alzheimer’s Patients?

The most recent new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease was approved by European regulators in May 2002, with the US FDA following suit the next year.

from The Pharma Letter

As patients, physicians and pharma firms digest the latest research, presented at last week’s Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC), what can the pharmaceutical industry offer the estimated 50 million people living with this most burdensome of conditions?

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Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

Surgeons Plan to Use Hepatitis-Infected Hearts to Slash Wait for a Transplant

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are getting ready to test transplanting hepatitis C-infected hearts.

from AMA Wire

As many as 1,000 infected kidneys are thrown away each year in the United States, but new medications have made hepatitis C curable — and made it possible to consider using infected organs for transplants. That could cut down on the wait time not just for kidneys but also other organs, especially hearts.

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Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.