Written by Student Health Services Laboratory Administrator, Jo Ann Culpepper

National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (NMLPW) is an annual celebration of the medical laboratory professionals and pathologists who play a vital role in every aspect of health care.  NMLPW is not only a time to celebrate their professionalism and be recognized for their efforts, but also to inform and educate medical colleagues and the public about the medical laboratory and the impact these dedicated skilled professionals have on the overall patient care. There are approximately 300,000 practitioners of clinical laboratory science in the United States.  Since the development of this career group in the 1920’s, the clinical laboratory science professional has played an increasingly vital role in the diagnosis and prevention of disease.  Since phlebotomists, medical technologists and pathologists work behind the scenes, few people know much about the critical testing they perform on a daily basis or what is takes to be able to work in a laboratory.

 

Watch the following video to see how a number of laboratories helped diagnose one young boy’s illness and save his life: http://bit.ly/2nPqGVI.

A phlebotomist is someone who has been trained specifically in how to successfully draw blood for a medical test. They can work in such locations as doctors offices, medical labs and hospitals. Although the primary function of these individuals is to collect blood samples, the job begins when the patient enters the room. As many patients feel distress at the prospect of having their blood drawn, it is the phlebotomist’s job to put the patient at ease while simultaneously prepping them with tourniquets and disinfectant, and then drawing the blood as painlessly as possible. A phlebotomist is trained to deal with complications that may arise from improperly drawn blood, patient allergies or other patient conditions. Educational requirements are the completion of a certificate or diploma program or on the job training with a high school diploma. Once the individual completes one of these programs, they are eligible for certification through various professional organizations (ex. ASCP or AMT). A few states require phlebotomists to be certified, Texas does not.
A medical technologist (MT) is a healthcare professional who performs diagnostic analytic tests on body fluids such as blood, urine, sputum, stool, as well as many other specimens. Medical technologists work in clinical laboratories at hospitals, doctor’s offices, reference laboratories, and research facilities just to name a few. In most four-year degree programs, the student attends classroom courses for 3 years and clinical rotations for 1 year. This combinations is called a 3+1 program; there are also 2+2 and 4+1 programs. After receiving a bachelor’s degree, the graduate is eligible to challenge a test sponsored by a national credentialing agency (ex. American Society of Clinical Pathology) and is then entitled to use the credential “MT” after their names. In the United States, the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA ’88) define the level of qualification required to perform tests of various complexity. A medical technologist holds the highest such qualification. Most medical technologists are generalists and work in all areas of the lab, but can receive a specialty in a specific field.
Many pathologists begin their educational paths in high school by taking science and math courses. A bachelor’s degree, usually in science or a related field, is required to enter medical school. After graduating from medical school, candidates enter a residency program. Pathology fellowships offer extended training in the specialty. The total educational period might be as long as 12-15 years. A pathologist job duties could include, but are not limited to, interpretation of results from lab tests, performing autopsies, overseeing of blood banks to ensure blood products are safely administered, interpretation of blood, bone marrow, body fluid and tissue samples, and serving as a consultant to other physicians.
The SHS Laboratory is conveniently located on campus between the MSC and Sbisa on the ground floor of the A.P. Beutel Health Center (Student Health Services). This allows a student to either walk or drive to the laboratory’s location, or take the Aggie Spirit bus that drops students right in front of SHS. The SHS Laboratory employs student workers, phlebotomists, medical technologists and a consulting pathologist. Students can either have laboratory tests performed that have been ordered by a physician located outside of SHS, or after visiting one of the many physicians, nurse practitioners, or a physician assistant located in SHS. Additionally, select laboratory tests can also be performed upon request without an order from a healthcare provider, also called self-referral testing. The list of available self-referral tests at SHS is limited and is listed further in this article.  At the SHS Laboratory, no appointments are required to have your blood drawn and wait times are typically less than 5 minutes, which provides flexibility and convenience in a student’s busy schedule. Prices for laboratory tests performed at the SHS Laboratory are very competitive and are often cheaper than most other locations in the community. The Laboratory hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm.
The SHS Laboratory offers the following self-referral tests:

Blood Type • Hemoglobin • Hematocrit • Hepatitis B Titer • Hepatitis C Antibody • HIV – 1/2 Screen • Mumps IGG • Mumps IGG (Quantitative) • RPR (Syphilis) • Rabies Titer • Rubella IGG • Rubella IGG (Quantitative) • Rubeola IGG • Rubeola IGG (Quantitative) • Sickle Cell Screen • Varicella IGG Quantitative • Varicella Titer (Chicken Pox) • Blood Sugar (Glucose) • Cholesterol • Lipid Profile (Cholesterol, Triglycerides, HDL, LDL) • Chlamydia and Gonorrhea • Drug Screen • Pregnancy


Results are shared via secure messaging found in the Patient Portal.

For any information regarding the SHS Laboratory, please visit shs.tamu.edu/lab or contact the Lab at (979) 458-8333.

Information in this post provided by ascp.org and ascls.org