What is medical laboratory science? Here, everything you need to know about MLS is unveiled
We would generally attribute a headache to be a common symptom of stress. But before a doctor sends us off to the pharmacy, two things take place; a consultation and a diagnosis.
While in the consulting room, a patient is asked a series of questions regarding how they feel or will be asked to describe some out-of-place episodes which they have experienced.
This little piece of information helps the doctor make a dialectic diagnosis and at this point, the next line of action will be carrying out tests for accurate and proper diagnosis and treatment.
It is risky to begin medical treatment without ascertaining the cause of the illness. Doctors proceed with treatment, only after a test carried out in a laboratory by medical laboratory scientists has been performed.
The medical laboratory scientists are not the faces we see on a regular unless there is a need to conduct a test.
They are mostly in their laboratories working out something, beneficial to human health and the world at large.
In a crime scene, a detective works with the evidence presented and the ones omitted by sheer oversight to draw a conclusion and nail someone to the crime. Medical laboratory science can be likened to the detectives from the FBI.
While the latter combats crimes, the former curtails diseases by determining its cause and prescribing treatment.
On one hand, crime is on the rampage, on the other hand, peoples’ health has continued to deteriorate. A healthy population will assist in the fight against crimes.
Thus, understanding that medical laboratory scientists play a vital role in ensuring that our wholesomeness is restored, is indeed pertinent.
What is Medical Laboratory Science?
Medical laboratory science provides clues that are crucial for the diagnosis and treatment of a disease. Medical laboratory scientists arrive at these clues by performing diagnostic testing of blood and body fluids in clinical laboratories. These clues are found in the human body.
It is a common saying that in finding a solution, one must find out the cause. Medical laboratory science seeks solutions and alternatives to a disease or injury by performing tests on the directives of a physician.
So before a treatment comes a diagnosis and before a diagnosis, clinical tests are carried out. Put together, medical laboratory science provides the answer to diseases suffered by patients, by identifying the cause through the visible signs and symptoms so as to arrive at the possible treatment.
Medical laboratory scientists are generalists. However, some of the scientists have areas of specialty.
These specialties include;
- Clinical biochemistry
- Electron microscopy
Medical laboratory scientists do not spend much time with patients like physicians would, however, they initiate the decisions about diagnosis and treatments in patients to a level measured to be over 60%. They also assist in the maintenance of healthy lifestyles.
Roles of a Medical Laboratory Scientists
As stated earlier, medical laboratory scientists are all-rounders. Hence, they are experts in different areas and can perform multiple functions.
The primary function of an MLS is to analyze a variety of biological specimens with the use of microscopes and hematology analyzers incubators.
In general, medical laboratory scientists perform the following roles;
1. Perform, develop, evaluate, correlate, and assure accuracy and validity of laboratory information.
2. Direct and supervise clinical laboratory resources and operations.
3. Collaborate in diagnosis and treatment of patients.
However, they perform specialist functions. These functions include;
- Interpreting test results.
- Testing control products.
- Performing calibration.
- Troubleshooting of instrumentation.
- Performing statistical analyses to verify the accuracy and repeatability testing.
- Ensuring specimen quality.
- The role of a medical laboratory scientist is dynamic, other roles include;
- measuring blood cholesterol and blood sugar.
- tests for anaemia.
- checks the urine for protein.
- identifies strep throat bacteria.
- prepares blood for transfusion etc.
- Medical laboratory scientists perform the following clinical tests;
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP)
- Liver function tests (LFT)
- Renal function tests (RFT)
- Thyroid function test (TFT)
- Blood type
- Lipid and Coagulation profile.
- Serological studies.
- Routine cultures etc.
Some of the frequently asked questions on medical laboratory science include;
Where does medical laboratory scientist work?
Medical laboratory scientists perform their roles in a laboratory and we would mostly associate a lab with a hospital.
However, MLS could work in research facilities, public health centres, Colleges, Industries, with the Armed forces, clinics etc.
At each of these workspaces, their roles may be all-encompassing or specific.
How long does it take to be a Medical Laboratory Scientist?
Medical laboratory science may take 4 to 5 years and that for an undergraduate degree. So spending the next 4 to 5 years identifying the cause of a disease and how to treat such diseases or injuries to ensure that there are healthier people is worthwhile.
How can I become a Medical laboratory scientist?
The first step to becoming a medical laboratory scientist is to focus your interest in biology or chemistry.
This is a head-start. More so, it is important to note that being certified an MLS varies according to country.
In Nigeria for example, interested applicants must complete secondary school and must pass the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), must sit and pass the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) as well as the University’s entry-level exam to be considered and admitted.
However, in most developed countries, applicants must complete a 4-year higher diploma in a related field before proceeding to acquire a bachelor’s degree.
Therefore, the requirements to becoming a certified MLS are;
earn a bachelor’s degree.
gain clinical experience through internships.
get certified by relevant clinical bodies.
apply for a job.
Does Medical laboratory science require skills?
- No profession is without a specific skill. For medical laboratory science, the following are required;
- Must be thorough, precise, and self-sufficient.
- Should be emotionally stable.
- Must be able to communicate well.
- Should be able to carry out tasks meticulously and quickly.
- Should be knowledgeable about basic sciences, the use of laboratory instrumentation, and computers.
- Must possess problem-solving skills.
Conclusion on What is medical laboratory science?
A few personnel play pivotal roles in the healthcare system and each one works interdependently. Medical laboratory science is one and learning about their roles, work settings are indeed necessary.