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5 Important Skills Every Medical Lab Tech Needs

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As medical laboratory technicians and technologists, you play a critical role in America’s healthcare system.

Your work helps diagnose acute and chronic illness, guides treatment, and improves patient quality of life. It’s a rewarding profession that’s also in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the sector to grow much faster than average, with an additional 35,100 lab technologist jobs by 2028.  

To succeed as a medical lab technician or technologist, you have to master a ton of various skills. Some you can learn as you go, others require a little more focus and dedication. 

 

  1. Tech-savvy

Medical laboratories use various high-tech tools, including microscopes, chemistry analyzers, incubators, and gamma counters. Understanding how to operate and maintain these tools is crucial to your success. After all, one wrong setting or missed data point can drastically alter the results of a test. You’ll receive some on-the-job training, but you’ll also need a basic understanding of how laboratory tools work. Set aside plenty of time to read through operating manuals. You might also want to supplement your research with YouTube videos or free online courses.

 

  1. Attention to detail

When you receive a result, write it down right away. You might have a great memory, but in a fast-paced work environment distraction abound. Before submitting any paperwork, read through everything twice. You might even want to have a peer or co-worker conduct an additional review.

 

  1. Good communication skills

Following laboratory analysis, it’s your job to collect the data and communicate your findings in a clear, concise, and easy-to-understand manner. You’ll want to customize your reports based on the audience receiving them. For example, if you’re sending a report to another laboratory or medical professional, you can incorporate technical or scientific terms. If you’re providing results to a patient, avoid jargon. The average American reads at an eighth-grade level, so take this into consideration when drafting your report. 

You’ll also want to brush up on your interpersonal communication skills. Laboratory technicians and technologists work in coordination. Collaboration and teamwork are crucial to quick turnaround times and accurate results. 

 
  1. Coachability

The responsibilities of medical laboratory technicians and technologists are always changing. This is particularly true in today’s environment, with a global pandemic still raging. Testing protocols and procedures are constantly evolving. If you want to thrive in your position, you need to have a coachable attitude. Remember: It’s okay that you don’t know everything. If you arrive at work each morning with a positive outlook and a willingness to learn, you’ll do just fine.

 

  1. An ability to work well under pressure

Working in a medical laboratory is fast paced. Every location is different, but most expect you to meet a certain quota of tests each day. The need for both speed and accuracy can make for a stressful environment. Therefore, it’s important to keep a level head and remain positive. 

Throughout the workday, check in with your breathing and mindset. During your breaks, make sure to leave your workstation and walk around. You might even want to listen to relaxing music or a meditation. In addition, don’t let stressed out co-workers or those with negative attitudes rub off on you. A good rule of thumb is to not take things personally. By keeping this in mind, you’ll be better prepared to handle the ups and downs of a laboratory environment without losing your sanity.

 

For medical laboratory technicians and technologists, career skills matter

These are just a few of the skills you’ll need as a medical lab technician or technologist. Whether you’re a recent graduate just setting out on your career path, or you’ve a seasoned med lab tech, it’s important to continue to improve your skillset. The greater your knowledge and expertise, the greater your marketability. Knowledge paired with an amazing resume is the key to landing a job too. If your resume needs some love, submit it for review or get some interview coaching if you’re re-entering the workplace.


If you’re a medical lab technologist or technician looking for your next job opportunity, we encourage you to start your search at AlliedHealthJobCafe. Good luck!

 

5 Important Skills Every Medical Lab Tech Needs
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance B2B and B2C medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.

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