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Lab Assistants – What Do They Do?

Posted: May 13, 2014

Lab Assistant

Do you want to find worthwhile work in a field that promises to grow into the future? Laboratory assistants are important members of the modern healthcare team and demand for their expertise is growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants, who often specialize as lab assistants, can expect to find an awesome job growth rate of 29 percent through 2022.

And lab assistants can work in scientific and medical lab settings across the healthcare industry from private practices and research facilities to clinics and hospitals.

But what do lab assistants do? A whole lot!

Assist physicians and other healthcare professionals

Under the Affordable Health Care Act, all qualified health insurance plans must now include lab tests as part of their basic coverage. So labs are busier than ever! Lab Assistants help doctors, nurses, researchers and lab technicians in the performance of their duties in the laboratory setting.

Collect and process specimens

Lab Assistants collect specimens such as blood, tissue and urine and process the samples for the lab. They might work in phlebotomy—collecting blood samples—or histology—collecting, cutting and dyeing tissue samples.

Obey industry protocol and procedures

Lab Assistants need to adhere to strict standards to ensure that every patient sample is handled with care and professionalism. They must follow guidelines set forth by federal, state, local and individual lab regulations. Lab results can often bring life and death news to patients and mistakes can cause undue stress and delays to treatment. It’s imperative that samples—and the paperwork that accompanies them—get where they need to go in a timely manner.

Clean and maintain lab equipment

All the materials and equipment that come in contact with research and patient samples must be sterilized before and after use. Dirty tools and equipment can contaminate samples, alter the results of lab tests and skew experiment conclusions.

Inventory and order

Lab Assistants track supplies and place orders when those supplies are running low. They often help organize and stock inventory and assist in making sure the lab runs smoothly by always having the needed chemicals, tools and supplies on hand.

If you’re interested in becoming a lab assistant, you can train to become a medical assistant at Career Quest Learning Centers. We offer classroom instruction and hands-on training that will show you how modern clinics and labs run and just how you might fit in.