What is a Clinical Laboratory Scientist?
According to the American Clinical Laboratory Association, more than 7 billion clinical laboratory tests are performed in the U.S. each year. Clinical Laboratory Scientists, also referred to as Medical Technologists, perform an array of clinical laboratory tests, analyze various specimens and report the results to physicians.
Approximately 60 to 70 percent of all decisions regarding a patient's diagnosis, treatment, hospital admission, and discharge are based on the results of the tests medical laboratory scientists perform.
Duties of a Clinical Laboratory Scientist include:
- Test and analyze body fluid and tissue samples
- Operate laboratory equipment
- Record and enter data into a patient’s medical record
- Establish quality methods to ensure accuracy of test results
- Monitor patient outcomes
The Medical Technology/Clinical Laboratory Science program prepares students for careers in a broad assortment of healthcare settings, such as hospitals, research laboratories and physicians’ offices.
“Clinicals were by far the most exciting part of the program. Having the hands-on experience made me feel incredibly prepared for the future. I was offered a position with a sign-on bonus at the hospital I did my rotations at. The field is always hiring, and the opportunities are endless,” said Korey Purtee, a 2018 graduate of UVA Wise who earned her degree in clinical laboratory science.
A Vital Career Field
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an increase in the population of older adults is expected to lead to a greater need for diagnosing medical conditions, such as cancer or type 2 diabetes, through laboratory procedures. Prenatal testing for various types of genetic conditions also is increasingly common. Clinical laboratory technologists will be in demand to use and maintain the equipment needed for diagnosis and treatment.
Important qualities clinical laboratory scientists should have:
Analytical skills. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians must examine the specimens they test to determine whether there are abnormalities.
Detail oriented. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians must follow instructions and laboratory procedures when performing tests.
Dexterity. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians must work carefully when handling needles, specimens, and laboratory equipment.
Interpersonal skills. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians may collect blood or tissue samples from patients who feel stressed. They must be supportive and sympathetic in their interactions with patients.
Physical stamina. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians may stand for long periods while collecting samples. They may need to lift or turn patients to collect samples for testing.
The curriculum of this degree program consists of three years of academic work at UVA Wise followed by a 12-month period of specialized training (including classroom and hospital laboratory rotations) in the Clinical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology program at a cooperating school of Clinical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Services (NAACLS). UVA Wise has an affiliation agreement with Radford University.
Learn more about studying medical technology or clinical laboratory science at UVA Wise by consulting the College Catalog.
View course descriptions in the College Catalog.