Have you ever had to have your blood taken? What about giving any other samples, like throat swabs, or urines, or even moles or other pieces of skin? Did you ever wonder what happens to these samples next? Medical Laboratory Technologists do all the testing! There are 6,356 practicing MLTs in Ontario. Their job is to provide rapid, accurate and precise results for physician’s requests, in order to aid that physician in your diagnosis. They work around the clock, performing nearly half a million tests each day, every day of the year.
Perhaps your doctor sends you to have your “sugar” checked? Or perhaps your thyroid? Did
you need a pregnancy test? Chemistry Technologists are there, ready and able to analyze your blood.
Maybe you’ve been feeling tired, and the doc says it might be your iron? Or an infection needs to be ruled out? Complete blood counts are a valuable screening test to check those things, and may indicate the need for further tests. Hematology Technologists are up to the task!
Microbiology Technologists receive samples like a swab or urine, and try to grow bacteria from the sample by proving an appropriate environment. In some samples, there are certain normal bacteria, or normal flora, which may grow, and some harmful bacteria may take completely over. The Microbiology technologist can distinguish the difference and inform your doctor so they can prescribe the best treatment.
Histology Technologists take tissue samples, like a mole, or piece of breast tissue and cut it into very thin slices (picture a miniature meat slicer at the deli). Then they stick this to a glass slide and stain it with different chemicals to allow pathologists to view the tissue under a microscope, enabling them to look for abnormal cells or even cancer.
Blood Bank Technologists provide blood product support to patients that need it, whether it be due an accident, cancer treatment or a surgical procedure. They perform compatibility and investigative workups in order to provide the safest blood and blood products possible.
Monitoring medication is another motive for lab tests to be performed. Medications such as
those for preventing seizures in epilepsy, or for preventing clots or strokes in post surgical
patients are all assessed through laboratory testing.
Medical Laboratory Technology is offered as a three year program at four different community colleges, or a degree program at one university in Ontario. It requires dedicated and conscientious individuals who possess great attention to detail that work 24/7 shifts ensuring they are always there when it matters most to you!
Medical Laboratory Technologists are important members of the health care team, working behind the scenes to provide information to physicians, making accurate diagnosis and treatment possible. Thank you to all these unsung heroes!
Joanne Sheedy, MLT