Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants

National Occupation Code (NOC): 3212

Medical laboratory technicians conduct routine medical laboratory tests and set up, clean and maintain medical laboratory equipment. They are employed in medical laboratories in hospitals, clinics, research facilities, post-secondary educational institutions and government research laboratories. Pathologists' assistants assist at autopsies and examinations of surgical specimens or perform autopsies under a pathologist's supervision. They are usually employed in hospitals and universities.

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Job Duties for Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants

Medical laboratory technicians
  • Collect, sort and prepare blood, tissue and other samples from patients
  • Log and validate patient samples and prepare them for testing
  • Set up medical laboratory equipment
  • Conduct routine laboratory tests and sample analyses
  • Perform quality assurance of testing techniques
  • Clean and maintain medical laboratory and medical laboratory equipment.
Pathologists' assistants
  • Prepare for autopsies by obtaining patients' medical records and arranging for radiographic examinations
  • Prepare, assist with or perform autopsies and surgical specimen examinations under pathologists' supervision
  • Dissect, examine, weigh, photograph and X-ray organs and specimens, collect tissue samples for chemical analysis and record findings
  • Discard specimens according to established safety procedures
  • Clean and maintain instruments, equipment and supplies
  • Develop and maintain processes for laboratory quality control
  • May prepare bodies for release to funeral homes following completion of autopsies
  • May supervise and train junior resident pathologists and morgue attendants.

Working Conditions for Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants

Most medical laboratory assistants work 35–40 hours per week. Those working in hospitals often rotate shifts to work on weekends and holidays. Some on-call work may also be required to cover emergencies. Workers in this occupational group generally work in clean, bright and well-ventilated medical laboratories, clinics or offices in hospitals. During their work day, they may perform a variety of tests or they may repeat the same tests throughout the day. They use solutions and reagents for their work, which may cause unpleasant odours. These workers may also have to work with infectious patients, samples or hazardous chemicals, so safety precautions are taken to avoid those risks.

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