Medical laboratory technologists and scientists conduct medical laboratory tests to provide information for diagnosing, treating and preventing disease. They work as part of a team with doctors, pathologists, scientists, technicians and laboratory assistants. They may be required to supervise the work of other technical officers and assistants and advise medical practitioners on the interpretation of tests.
Medical laboratory technologists assist doctors and pathologists in the diagnosis of diseases by performing all kinds of clinical laboratory tests. The three main lines of work are: diagnostic work; research work; and the preparation of serum and vaccines. The medical laboratory technologist does not work directly with patients. He or she forms part of a laboratory team, assisting a “professional officer” who has a degree. Some technologists identify disease-causing organisms, parasites, fungi, viruses and cancer cells, some do research and develop new laboratory techniques, while others teach at tertiary institutions. Medical laboratory technologists train and supervise laboratory aides and other technologists.
Medical laboratory technologists and scientists study blood and its diseases, count blood cells and examine blood slides with a microscope. They identify blood diseases such as anaemia and leukaemia and determine the suitability of blood for transfusion by cross-matching the blood with the patient and checking for the presence of diseases such as hepatitis and AIDS. They test blood for blood group antibodies that may cause disease in newborn babies and check the compatibility of bone marrow, kidney and other organs for transplantation.
Medical laboratory technologists also determine the chemical composition of specimens such as blood and urine, which is important in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease, liver disease and diabetes. They grow disease-causing organisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi that are taken from a variety of clinical specimens. They prepare body tissues (taken from the body during surgery or post-mortem examinations) for microscopic examination by pathologists. They prepare body fluids for microscopic examination and diagnose abnormalities.
They isolate and examine genetic material (DNA and RNA) for alterations specific to genetic diseases and cancer, which assist in the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.
Some areas of specialisation include:
Baldwin College, Bimaks College of Business and Health Sciences, Botswana College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences, Chuka University, College of Intergrated Healthcare, DDT School of Medicine, Deborah Retief Memorial School of Nursing/Institute of Health Sciences/ Kanye Seventh Day Adventist College of Nursing, Embu University College, Ernest Cook Ultrasound Research and Education Institute, Garden City University College, Karatina University, Kenya Methodist University, Kenyatta University, Kisii University, Kumasi Polytechnic, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Kyambogo University, Laikipia University, Maasai Mara University, Machakos University College, Makerere University, Maseno University, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Meru University of Science and Technology, Mount Kenya University, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Pwani University College, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tom Mboya University College, University for Development Studies, University of Botswana, University of Cape Coast, University of Eastern Africa Baraton, University of Gitwe, University of Health and Allied Science, University of Johannesburg, University of Kisubi, University of Malawi (College of Medicine), University of Pretoria, University of Rwanda, University of Stellenbosch, University of Zimbabwe, Vaal University of Technology