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Medical Lab Technician Courses and Classes Overview

Medical lab technicians use their skills to help diagnose, detect and track diseases. Suitable courses for these professionals are generally completed through a certificate or degree program.

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Essential Information

Medical lab technician courses taken at community colleges and technical schools generally lead to an Associate of Applied Science degree or a certificate, enabling the graduate to become employed in a medical laboratory where they use their skills to help diagnose, detect and track diseases. While a certificate program in the field generally requires a completed associate's or bachelor's degree with science coursework, an associate's program is suitable for first-time college students. Licensure or certification may be required to work as a medical laboratory technician in some states. Individuals can pursue general certification as a technician or choose a specialty.

Much of the coursework in both kinds of programs is laboratory-based, and students usually complete multiple clinical practica. Students learn about procedures for diagnostic testing in a laboratory and learn to identify and analyze substances, blood and microorganisms using common instruments found in a laboratory. Common courses cover clinical chemistry, bacteriology, clinical hematology and medical microbiology. Students might also complete courses in clinical lab management, urinalysis and phlebotomy.

Associate's degree programs include a large number of science courses, including those in chemistry, human biology, organic chemistry and cellular biology. Certificate programs normally exclude this general education science coursework as an earned degree with significant science coursework is required for admission.

Overview of Medical Lab Technician Courses

Below are descriptions of some medical lab technician courses commonly found in certificate and associate's programs.

Clinical Chemistry Course

Students in this lecture and laboratory course gain experience in laboratory procedures, while learning to analyze various substances, including electrolytes, glucose and enzymes. Future lab technicians become comfortable with instruments, including a spectrophotometer, and learn theory, procedures, clinical applications and laboratory mathematics. Other topics include quality control, testing procedures, clinical correlation and sources of error.

Bacteriology Course

This class instructs students in the core practices and concepts of clinical bacteriology. Coursework covers identification of pathogenic microorganisms and their disease processes. Molecular diagnostic testing and laboratory procedures will be covered, focusing on the bacteriological families of Streptococcaceae, Micrococcaceae and Neisseriaceae. Curriculum may also cover aerobic and anaerobic spore-formers, non-fermentative gram negative rods, Enterobacteriaceae, coccobacilli, Bacteroidaceae and Mycobacteria.

Clinical Hematology Course

This course focuses on knowledge of hematology and laboratory proficiency. Students study the formation of various hematologic disorders, including leukemias and anemias. The laboratory portion of the class provides instruction about procedures in automated, semi-automated and manual blood cell counts. Also addressed are staining techniques and differential morphology, hemoglobin and hematocrit procedures and coagulation procedures.

Medical Microbiology Course

Students learn identification and taxonomy of microorganisms. Topics include metabolism and genetics, microbial morphology, basic immunology, cultural characteristics and theory of disease process. Students also learn about the subject of microbiology as applied to food and water. The course is taught using labs and lectures. Other areas of instruction may include parasitology and a clinical investigation into human pathogenic microorganisms.

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