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What Does an Office Laboratory Technician Do?

An office laboratory technician holding a blood sample.
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  • Written By: L. Hepfer
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 26 June 2014
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An office laboratory technician performs various medical tests on samples and specimens that have been received from a patient. The tasks performed within the laboratory may include analyzing or preparing the specimens. Other job responsibilities may include sterilizing the medical instruments, organizing and ordering medical supplies, disposing of contaminated supplies or bio-hazardous materials and performing basic tests.

An office laboratory technician that has proven they have the ability to multi-task may be given extra responsibilities. These responsibilities may include answering telephones, updating or filing laboratory specimens, and assisting with routine tasks. The office laboratory technician may also assist with tissue samples or blood fluid, and they may help in determining any presence of micro-organisms, fungi, bacteria or parasites. Depending on the state in which the office laboratory technician works, they may be able to assist with biological, microscopic, chemical, immunologic, hematological and bacteriological tests.

The job description for an office laboratory technician can be very diverse depending on whether the person works in a physician's office, a hospital, or a medical clinic. Their job may involve direct patient contact and various tasks that would require them to have great communication skills and a pleasant attitude. Having these skills will help them explain the procedure to the patient, easing their fears, and preparing them for it. Certain tasks may involve recording a patient's medical history and their vital signs. He or she may assist in drawing blood and collecting samples.

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Professional conduct is required in this field at all times. Dealing with various hazardous and nonhazardous materials, along with various bodily fluids, requires constant concentration and attention to detail. They must possess a complete understanding of safety, and know how to sterilize their surroundings properly and consistently.

Certification is required to enter this job field, and programs can be found at most colleges that offer degrees in the health care industry. The student must be at least 16 years old at the time of training, although they cannot be hired until they are 18 years of age. All immunizations must be up to date, along with a current tuberculosis test and possible x-rays.

Most programs for this job require approximately 290-300 hours of classroom time. Depending on the school, required courses may include the basics in keyboarding, computer skills, clinical medical assistance, psychology and communication classes. Other required courses might include hematology, serology, microbiology, urinalysis, phlebotomy, medical office communication and law and ethics in the medical environment.

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