September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month in recognition of people diagnosed with a blood cancer such as leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma. Blood cancers are just one of the many diseases medical lab technicians (MLT) interact with. These medical experts play an important role in diagnosing these conditions and many others by conducting different kinds of complex tests to detect the presence of disease.
MLTs use different kinds of equipment in their work to identify conditions through blood, urine, and other body fluid samples such as spinal fluid. They help determine the presence of conditions like diabetes, cancer, HIV or cardiovascular issues.
Some types of technology aren’t new—such as the microscope—but are key to detecting disease. Here are some types of technology you’ll encounter in a career as an MLT.
Microscope: The microscope is a staple in lab settings. It’s an optical tool that enables technicians to magnify samples that can’t be seen with the naked eye, including samples of cellular disease and viruses.
Clinical centrifuge: This device applies centrifugal force (spinning) to test tubes of blood or other fluids to separate mixtures for disease analysis. For example, the centrifuge can separate plasma from red blood cells.
Cell counter: An automated cell counter is used for cell concentrations to help with medical diagnoses. The cell counter helps medical lab technicians determine how many live cells are in a particular culture. An oncologist, for example, needs to know the blood cell count for a cancer patient to determine appropriate treatment.
Hematology analyzer: This machine determines the presence of blood diseases. A hematology analyzer is used to determine a complete blood count of white and red blood cells, and may be used to analyze other components of blood cells such as platelet counts, hemoglobin, and hematocrit levels.
Autoclave (steam sterilizer): This device is a sterilization device that uses high temperatures and pressure to sterilize and disinfect equipment. In a medical setting, it’s critical to sterilize equipment, such as surgical instruments, to remove bacteria.
Hospital robot: As hospitals become more high-tech, they’re employing robots to help with the workload. Using a built-in map, Aethon’s TUG autonomous mobile robot can deliver lab specimens to the lab for analysis, and medications or other medical materials around the hospital. The robot frees up human medical lab technicians to focus on diagnostic work.
If helping doctors track down disease sounds interesting, a career as a medical lab technician may be a good choice for you. Visit www.fortis.edu to learn more about the programs available at the Fortis Institute in Cookeville and Nashville, and Fortis College in Baton Rouge. Call today or click here to request more information.