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The medical laboratory plays a critical role in the delivery of quality patient care. A medical laboratory is where tests are usually performed on clinical specimens in order to obtain information about the health of a patient pertaining to diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.

What many people don’t realize is that approximately 70 percent of a physician’s diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment monitoring is based on accurate laboratory test results; 94 percent of the objective data in the patient’s medical record is laboratory test information. In fact, few people are aware of the existence of medical laboratory professionals because they predominantly work behind the scenes in the laboratory.

Medical laboratory scientists don’t have to work in a hospital to save lives. They can also work for reference laboratories, medical offices, and pharmaceutical or biotech companies where they can help diagnoses and treat infections, anemia, and even cancer. They relay that information to doctors so they can determine the best treatment for each patient. 

Students who love science and solving problems might find that a career as a medical laboratory scientist is the right choice for them.

The profession is at a critical turning point. The majority of laboratory professionals are approaching retirement, which means that there will be a significant number of vacancies in these positions in the coming years. The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the largest professional association for pathologists and laboratory professionals, has launched the “What’s My Next” campaign to address a laboratory science workforce shortage.