How do you think your medical diagnostic tests are performed, and the results are gained? Is it a one-click option to load the samples and receive the results? Is the significant task of screening your health conditions based merely on medical devices?
In reality, a medical laboratory technician team works behind the scenes to serve humanity. The profession of MLTs is often overlooked, and when you think of healthcare professionals, you picture doctors and nurses only. However, MLTs are also a crucial component of the healthcare industry. MLTs are healthcare professionals who work behind the scenes and assist physicians in diagnosing diseases and prescribing medications.
This blog will take you on the journey of appreciating an MLTs’ role in the healthcare industry and make you aware of their significance.
Who are Medical Laboratory Professionals?
As said before, many people overlook the critical work that MLTs do. Most people are now aware of the existence of MLT as a profession. So let’s start with the definition of a medical laboratory professional.
MLPs are the healthcare members who collect, handle, and analyze biological samples and carry out their results. They perform diagnostic tests prescribed by a physician, thus aiding a physician in determining the patient’s health conditions. They are also called medical technologists, clinical laboratory scientists, etc., depending upon their qualifications and expertise.
We assume MLPs work in laboratory setups only, but there are other areas of specialization too. They may assist pathologists, anesthesiologists, etc. They may work as frontline healthcare workers as phlebotomists to collect patient samples.
Why Do Medical Laboratory Professionals Need Recognition?
People ignore the dedication and selfless work MLTs are doing. However, without MLTs’ contribution, the healthcare industry cannot function properly. Without accurate diagnostic tests, the physician cannot detect which disease the patient is suffering from and which medicine to prescribe. A wrong diagnosis may lead to alarming consequences for patients. Although they perform tests on medical devices; however, quality assurance and following standard protocols need human intervention.
The MLTs work backstage and thus do not come under general recognition. However, they are the behind-the-scenes heroes of the healthcare industry. A considerable recognition would raise their spirits and enable them to further their progress and work with more dedication. It would play a significant role in uplifting the healthcare industry as MLTs get recognition.
Medical Laboratory Professionals Recognition Week
Medical Laboratory Professionals Week is celebrated from April 23- April 29 annually. This week recognizes the selfless drivers of the healthcare industry for their unmatched contribution to the industry.
The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Scientists (ASCLS), with 17 national clinical lab institutes, sponsors this event. It is a profound step to recognize the healthcare backstage heroes as they work selflessly to improve the health conditions of the masses. These recognitions help elevate the confidence of laboratory technicians and enable them to perform their tasks more efficiently.
Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Contribution to Patient Care
Medical Laboratory Professionals’ work contributes a significant impact on patient care. The precision and quality of diagnostic test results are crucial in helping physicians make accurate decisions. Medical Laboratory Professionals conduct a wide range of tests that include:
- Blood tests- to measure cholesterol, glucose, and other components in the blood
- Urine tests- to detect kidney infections and image the kidney function
- Microbiology tests- to identify causative agents of infection in the body, i.e., bacteria and viruses
- Molecular tests- to detect infectious agents and genetic mutations
These test results help physicians diagnose diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and infectious diseases and track patients’ responses to treatment. Accurate test results also help prevent medical errors and improve patient safety.
Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Job Responsibilities
Medical laboratory professionals perform a variety of jobs to help physicians to detect diseases and optimize treatment. Here are a few of them:
- Analyze patient samples like blood, urine, body fluids, and tissues to detect abnormalities.
- Store the collected samples properly.
- Follow biosafety rules while performing diagnostic tests.
- Maintain and operate lab equipment, like microscopes and ELISA.
- Follow strict protocols to ensure that diagnostic results are precise and reliable.
- Record and interpret diagnostic test results and communicate them to healthcare providers.
- Ensure quality control procedures and maintain precise lab records.
- Keep up with new techniques and instruments in the laboratory.
- Maintain a safe lab work environment for themselves and their patients.
- Reperform the tests if the results seem unreliable.
- Contain any leakage if reported in the lab environment.
- Discard the wastes as per the protocols to ensure safe disposal.
Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Impact on Healthcare Delivery
MLPs are an integral part of the healthcare industry. They work closely with healthcare professionals to ensure patients receive the best treatment. Communication between MLPs and healthcare professionals is crucial to ensure patients receive timely and precise test results.
MLPs play a significant role in ensuring healthcare delivery quality. They track and maintain the quality of laboratory supplies and participate in quality improvement activities. Furthermore, they confirm that the generated results are accurate and according to one’s health conditions. If they feel anything wrong, either they reconduct the tests or inform the physician. In this way, MLPs boost the healthcare delivery system.
Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Shortage in the US
There is an immense shortage of MLPs in the United States. It is due to several factors, including:
- An aging workforce- Many technicians are approaching retirement age, so new MLPs are needed to replace them. Unfortunately, not enough MLPs are present in the industry.
- Lack of awareness- People are unaware of the critical roles of MLPS generally, and thus this profession needs recognition.
- Lack of educational programs- enough educational programs are not there to guide the MLPs entering the market. Especially in the underserved areas, the programs are lacking to the core.
- Nurse burnout- there is an immense nurse burnout rate due to work stress, underpaid job, and unfriendly work environment.
MLPs don’t receive adequate recognition from the public; despite their critical role in the healthcare industry. Lack of awareness, the aging workforce, the stress in the work environment, etc., are the significant reasons for the shortage of nurses in the US. If the nurses get adequate recognition, it might boost their confidence despite the challenges they face in the healthcare industry.
To conclude, a Medical laboratory technician is one of the Best Healthcare Jobs in the United States. Medical laboratory professionals are the backbone of the healthcare industry. They work off-screen to aid physicians in treating patients and saving lives.
However, the technicians don’t get adequate recognition. The reason is that they work behind the scenes, and many people are unaware of this healthcare profession. They face several challenges like stress conditions, inadequate payment, etc. If MLPs receive adequate recognition from the public, they will work with a better spirit and confidence. They will serve the healthcare industry better and contribute to the betterment of humanity.