I am still around, and still creating.
In January I started a new job at a local hospital. So many of my days have this have have been used up by science.
This past week was National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week. Like many professions we like to celebrate.
But what do laboratory professionals do?
The first and possibly only one of us you will meet is the phlebotomist, aka vampire. They are trained to find your vein and draw blood. Your blood is then labeled and sent to the laboratory.
Once in the lab, it is processed. What does that mean? If you had a red, orange, or light green top tube drawn,it will need to be spun down.
This tube will be used for chemistry testing. We only want to test the serum or plasma, what your blood cells float around in. Chemistry tests check for your cholesterol levels, electrolyte levels, and even some medication levels. Once test are complete a lab tech will verify and release results to your provider.
If you have a lavender, or purple tube drawn. You are most likely getting a complete blood count. This test check your whole blood. We are looking for the number of red cells, number of platelets and the number of white cells. We also check the type of white cells, and the shape of the red cells. If all is well, another lab tech will verify and release results to your provider.
However, the laboratory has many more departments.
There is the blood bank, they make sure blood that is given to patients is safe and compatible.
There is a urinalysis team. The look at your urine to determine what is causing symptoms.
The coagulation section, looks at your clotting factors and platelet function.
There is a bench that will run your A1C, this checks your blood sugar for the past 2-3 months.
There is a blood gas bench, they make sure your body is exchanging oxygen.
Then there is microbiology. In this department, they take all of the swabs, urine, sputum, poo, and any other sample that providers order a culture on.
A lab tech will place a small amount of the sample on to plates. But not normal ones, these plates have special agar. Depending on the type, the agar will prevent some bacteria from growing, is is so we can detect bacteria that is doing more harm than good. After a few days of growing and testing, a lab tech can let your provider know which antibiotics will work best.
The other sections of the lab are histology, pathology, electrophoresis, and cytology.
As medical laboratory professionals, we work hard to provide doctors and nurses with the most accurate results. Some of us, have an associates degree, and many of us have a bachelors degree. We spend countless hours studying and learning all of the systems of the body. We spend time in laboratory doing clinical rotations before graduation.and then usually have to train for about 6 more months before we are checked off to work independently.
If you have any questions or things to add leave it in the the comments.