Medical Lab Assistant Career Guide

medical lab assistant career

A medical lab assistant career can be an exciting and fast-paced career path. It’s also one you may not think of when you consider joining the world of healthcare. If you’ve never heard of it, a medical lab assistant helps perform testing for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. They’re a valuable and important part of a healthcare team. They take samples, analyze them, and report on their results to doctors and nurses. They do a lot more, too!

A medical lab assistant career is a great fit for people who are:

  • Detail oriented
  • Able to make sense of complicated data or instructions
  • Active listeners
  • Good at managing their time
  • Able to spend a lot of their workday on their feet

Of course, you don’t need to be a professional at all these things immediately. A good education program can help you learn these skills. It should also teach you the technical skills needed to start your medical lab assistant career path.

Find out more about Dorsey College Medical Laboratory Assistant program!

What does a medical lab assistant do

Before you jump into a medical lab assistant program, you should understand the work they do. When you think of a career in healthcare, you might imagine a team of doctors and nurses standing at a patient’s bedside with clipboards. But these are not the only healthcare career paths out there. In fact, a lot of work happens behind the scenes to help doctors make accurate diagnoses. That’s where a medical lab assistant comes in.

A medical lab assistant spends most of their workday helping process important samples. According to the Occupational Information Network, the job duties in a medical lab assistant career usually include:

  • Collecting samples from patients for testing, such as blood or urine or saliva
  • Preparing specimens for testing
  • Conducting testing of samples using microscopes or analyzers
  • Cutting, staining, and mounting tissue samples for analysis by a pathologist
  • Performing medical research

A medical lab assistant also needs good writing and communication skills. After they perform their tests, they need to be able to communicate the results to doctors and others. Medical lab assistants do important work in helping diagnose diseases and illnesses. They can also help with prevention and education for patients and their families.

Where medical lab assistants work

Most medical lab assistants work in a lab setting. These may be within a hospital or another healthcare setting. That’s also according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But there are other places you can pursue your medical lab assistant career path. They include:

  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories
  • Doctor’s offices
  • Outpatient care centers

No matter where you work, keep in mind that most medical lab assistants work full-time. They may also work in facilities that are open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Nights, weekends, and even overnight work schedules are possible when you start a medical lab assistant career path.

How to get started in a medical lab assistant career

The best way to start your medical lab assistant career path is through an education program. Be sure to find the right program for your goals. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you figure this out:

  • How soon do I want to begin my career? Some medical lab assistant programs take just a few months. Others can take a year or more. It’s important to take a look at your timeline and when you want to start working.
  • What certifications or requirements are in place for my state (or the state I want to work in)? The requirements for a medical lab assistant vary depending on where you work, so be sure to look into this!

Steps to pursue a medical lab assistant career

Now that you know a little more about medical lab assistant career paths, here are the steps you should take:

  1. Research the requirements or certifications needed for a medical lab assistant career in your state.
  2. Find a medical lab assistant program that fits your needs and schedule.
  3. Contact the program’s admissions team to learn more about how to enroll.
  4. Start your medical lab assistant career path!

Explore Dorsey college’s medical laboratory assistant career training program

Dorsey College offers a program for people interested in pursuing a medical lab assistant career path in Michigan. With campuses in Madison Heights (Main campus), Saginaw (a branch campus of Madison Heights), and Wayne (a branch campus of Madison Heights), the program aims to teach students key skills for success, including:

  • Medical terminology
  • Anatomy
  • Phlebotomy
  • Operating lab equipment
  • Specimen handling procedures
  • And more

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