By Tim Williammee MT (ASCP), CLT – Bassett Healthcare Network
Do you dream of a career where you can put your interest of science into practice? Are you also interested in the medical field, but are not sure if you’d be comfortable in a direct patient care setting? Look no further than the exciting, fast-paced career of Clinical Laboratory Science!
Clinical Laboratory Scientists, who are sometimes referred to as medical technologists (MT’s) or clinical laboratory technologists (CLT’s), perform complex tests that analyze blood and body fluid specimens, which help provide diagnostic information for physicians. Their work often goes unseen and as a result many people are unaware of what the profession contributes to a person’s health. Nonetheless, 70% of all clinical decisions (including a patient’s diagnosis, treatment, hospital admission, and discharge) are based on laboratory tests performed by Clinical Laboratory Scientists.
To pursue this career one must have a Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Laboratory Science (Medical Technology) and become licensed to practice in New York State. CLT’s must be detail oriented and well adept at exercising critical thinking skills. People in this field generally have investigative interests, but also prefer realistic and conventional environments. They also thrive in behind-the-scenes work environments and are self-satisfied knowing what they’re doing is making a great difference in the lives of others. Likewise, their work values gravitate towards independence and achievement.
There are many reasons to pursue this career. Like many other medical careers, the job forecast for this profession is bright. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of Clinical Laboratory Scientists is expected to grow significantly over the next decade (by 14%), adding 65,800 new positions between 2012 and 2022. There are many drivers responsible for this growth. There were many years where few people went to college to study Clinical Laboratory Science. Simultaneously many CLT’s are retiring or planning to retire soon. Moreover, an increase in the volume of lab tests along with the development of new types of lab tests also drives the growth for the profession. Combined with the factors of a growing and aging population, the stage is set for Clinical Laboratory Science to grow significantly over the next decade.
In addition to the bright outlook, an excellent salary accompanies this profession. At Bassett Healthcare Network, entry level CLT’s can start at $19.52 an hour, or approximately $40,000 a year. Experienced CLT’s can make up to $29.77 an hour or approximately $62,000 a year. Incentives for pursuing this career, while organization specific, include: opportunities for growth and promotions, job security, signing bonuses, and tuition reimbursement.
Much like other healthcare professionals, CLT’s have the opportunity to specialize in different areas:
- Clinical Microbiology is concerned with the identification, diagnosis, and treatment of microbes that can cause human disease, including bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses.
- Clinical Hematology: involves analyzing diseases of the blood and body fluids
- Clinical Chemistry: Includes the measurement of the chemical components of blood and body fluids, antibodies to infectious diseases therapeutic drug monitoring, and toxicology.
- Transfusion and tissue services: involves the testing, preparation, and process of infusing or removing blood or blood components for therapeutic purposes and supplying tissues for surgical procedures.
Since this fast-paced profession is driven by technology and new scientific developments, CLT’s must keep up-to-date in their field by continuously reading industry literature, attending seminars, and belonging to professional organizations like the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), American Society for Microbiology (ASM), American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) or Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA).
Interested in learning more? Get hands-on experience with job shadowing opportunities through the Bassett Healthcare Network. Contact John North at JNorth@CNYAHEC.org for details!