The role of the medical laboratory assistant can be challenging, stressful but rewarding all at the same time. They will work in a laboratory setting usually in the grounds at a hospital. Although the job title remains the same the job duties will vary at each work place. Some may perform more technical duties and others with carry out more clerical duties depending on the needs of a particular service.
Although there may be some differences the one aspect they have in common is that they will all support the scientists to do their job. The assistants will meet and greet visitors to the laboratory who bring their specimens and must be polite at all times. In busy areas a worker will be based in the front of the lab where they sort out where the specimens need to go.
When a member of staff commences training before their role, they will learn all the areas required such as Haematology, Coagulation, Immunoassay as well as Biochemistry. Training is intense and will take several months. They may also work in other areas like Virology, Microbiology and Cytology, those who may work in these areas will only have knowledge of that area is it is quite specialized.
Staff in the Haematology area are responsible for checking the samples are correct and have all the right information, one member of staff will initially assess and enter all the requests on to a computer base and their partner will check to ensure they have not missed anything. Accuracy is everything, all work must be counter checked.
In circumstances where the credentials do not match or if there does not happen to be three forms of identification on the specimen the product must be rejected, this is called an unsuitable blood sample. The worker will contact the requesting office immediately so they can take another sample without any more errors being made.
When the specimens have been checked and checked again and they appear on the database they are taken to the analyser for testing, automatically the results are sent back to the correct department.
The discipline of Biochemistry is somewhat similar that the individual will check the samples demographics, but the tests are very different and once a rack of specimens have been labelled they will be placed in an apparatus called a centrifuge which spins the samples at such a rate that it separates the plasma so it can be tested alone. Whilst the Biochemistry samples are being spun down, this usually takes five minutes at a speed of 3500rpm, the tests can be entered into the system, then the samples are taken to the correct area of the laboratory to be checked and tested by a scientist.
The discipline of Immunoassay can be a little tricky for an untrained individual and will usually be the final skill that they will learn. Testing is solely for hormones for both males and females, and require the blood to be separated from the plasma so it can be placed in a fridge or a freezer depending on the test requirement.