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Career Story: Medical Lab Technician In A Hospital

Medical Lab Technician In A Hospital

Job Title: Lab Office Tech

Type of Company: I work for a small not for profit hospital in northwestern Vermont.

Education: BA in History and Chinese, Middlebury College

Previous Experience: I worked as an aide in a residential community care home. I realized that working in the local hospital would give me access to health insurance and second shift work. This was more important to me than working in my field.

Job Tasks: I'm responsible for obtaining, labelling and preparing specimens for medical testing. So, I poke people with sharp needles (phlebotomy) to get blood samples, give them containers to collect urine and/or feces and help respiratory therapists obtain sputum samples.

I care for a wide range of people: infants who need routine newborn screenings, pediatric patients, outpatients coming in for a variety of testing, and inpatients who vary greatly in the severity of their illnesses. Often I'll deal with an eighty year age span in the course of a shift. This variety keeps me interested but it also means I'm constantly having to shift my focus to make sure I meet the needs of the different populations. Because I work in a hospital setting I also have to be prepared to help out in emergency settings, if there are multiple victims of a car crash or some other accident I might be called down to the ER to draw blood or deliver blood or just be the extra pair of hands.

I research different tests to make sure we're getting the right specimen: some blood tests are done on whole blood, some on serum, others on plasma. Temperature and light exposure can also effect the results of some tests.

To prepare the specimens for testing I log them into our computer system and print out bar coded labels. Accuracy is very very very important. Mislabeling a specimen could result in harm to a patient or, although this isn't likely, even death.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part is dealing with so many different people. I also like the phlebotomy. It's kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack in the dark which makes it challenging and interesting. Most people hate getting their blood drawn so if I can reassure them and make it a painless experience that's always good. I also like that I can work second shift which supports my other interests.

The worst part is that you're dealing with pee and poop and sputum and other even less attractive bodily fluids. The pay isn't great either.

Job Tips:
1. volunteer in a hospital to see whether you're really interested in healthcare work.

2. While you can take courses, many places do allow on the job training. Even if there isn't a job in the lab, take whatever hospital job you can find as it's often easier to do an internal transfer than apply cold.

3. Make sure you have a thick skin. Folks getting there bloodwork done are under stress and apt to take it out on you.

Popular Schools offering Medical Laboratory Technology Programs

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American Career College
Los Angeles, Ontario

American Career College (ACC) offers hands-on training that will prepare students for careers in the healthcare industry at three campuses in Los Angeles, Ontario, and Orange County, California.

  • Programs: Associate of Occupational Science in Surgical Technology
  • Degrees: Associate

A degree from CTU can connect you to what matters most: powerful professional network, faculty who are real-world professionals and innovative technology. So once you earn your degree you hit the ground sprinting. Are you in?

  • Programs: Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management - Health Informatics
  • Degrees: Bachelor

Get the hands-on training you need to succeed at Blake Austin College.

  • Programs: Clinical Medical Assisting w/ Phlebotomy
  • Degrees: Certificate
Platt College
Alhambra, Anaheim, Ontario, Riverside

Turn your talents into a career at nationally recognized and accredited Platt College.

  • Programs: Medical Assisting, Hemodialysis Technician
  • Degrees: Associate, Certificate
UEI College
Anaheim, Bakersfield, El Monte, Encino, Fresno, Gardena, Huntington Park, Ontario, Riverside, San Marcos, Stockton

At UEI College, we want you to succeed. We’re like a family and we want you to be a part of it.

  • Programs: Medical Assistant (8-Month Diploma Program)
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Orion College
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Orion College is a post-secondary vocational school offering Associate Degree programs in Business Administration, Medical Assisting and Healthcare Management.. By utilizing online learning, students have the flexibility to continue their education from the convenience of their own home. Our virtual classrooms will enable students to attend classes and communicate with instructors and classmates. Students can complete some programs without leaving their current employment or sacrificing family time.

  • Programs: Medical Assisting
  • Degrees: Diploma, Associate
Unitek College
Concord, Fremont, Hayward, San Jose

Unitek College™ is a privately held vocational school dedicated to helping you gain the skills needed to advance your career or begin a brand new career. 

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  • Degrees: Certificate
National Career College
Panorama City

Choosing a school and a new career path can be a very overwhelming process.

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Milan Institute
Visalia

Prepare for an exciting new career at the Milan Institute.

  • Programs: Medical Assisting
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San Joaquin Valley College
Bakersfield, Delano, Hanford, Lancaster, Madera, Ontario, Temecula, Visalia

San Joaquin Valley College - A Private Junior College.

  • Programs: Certificate - Medical Assistant, Degree - Medical Assistant
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