Any medical lab assistants here? I'm looking for a new career.

I’m looking for a new career. I have a few thousand dollars and my time frame is about a year. Looking through the online calendar of our provincial post-secondary institutions, it looks like becoming a medical lab assistant might fit the bill for me.

(In BC, a medical lab assistant is someone who takes blood, does paperwork, handles “other” samples (i.e. urine) ).

I was originally looking at becoming a medical transcriptionist but the future looks bleak. I was attracted by the idea of working from home but I don’t want to become part of a profession that is becoming obsolete as I type this. :frowning:

So I’m wondering if anyone here is a medical lab assistant and what they can tell me about the part that scares me most - sticking strangers with a needle - how they felt about doing it, how much practice they had before the real thing, etc etc.

Thank you in advance.

Although never technically a medical assistant, I did have a gig drawing blood for a while so I can speak on that.
You’ll msot likely get to practice on your classmates in the medical assistant class a few times before you start doing it on real patients. If your class is decent they should give you a short little unpaid “internship” to practice even more before you actually try to find a paying job that will be less forgiving about newbie mistakes.
Anyway, blood-drawing really isn’t that big of a deal once you’ve done it a few times and know what the basic procedure is.
They should teach you to palpate for a decent vein and know what you’re aiming for before you go for it. If you can’t fell anything, ask someone more experienced to walk you through it instead of making a stab in the dark.
There will always be some people that are just really hard to get blood from, no matter who does it, because their veins are all messed up (like the fellow I saw recently who had ruined his veins with drug abuse :frowning: ). All you can do in those cases is try your best, then let someone else try if you can’t get it after one or two sticks (it’s not fair to try any more than twice on the same person, in my view).
It’s a little nerve-wracking and awkward when you miss a vein on someone, but it’s bound to happen and patients generally accepted it happens sometimes.
The biggest thing to be mindful of is to never ever become complacent about handling needles with other people’s blood on them. Always act as if each patient has HIV and hepatitis (because you never know which one of them might!).
Good luck. :slight_smile:


Anyone else?

I hesitated to respond as I was a medical lab technician in the Army many years ago, and things have changed drastically. However, some of the things addressed I can comment on.

Besides doing blood drawing and analysis, you will deal with other body fluids, and some solids as well, I regret. :smiley: OTOH, things have changed drastically from when we did all tests ourselves in the lab by hand, so to speak. Now there are amazing machines that do a lot of the drudge (and messy) work. We used to do CBCs (complete blood counts) with several tests, and then did the red and white cell counts looking through the microscope. I liked this, but think they have machines that do it now, but probably somebody will weigh in with more details.

As to venipunctures, as noted, you will learn to do this without any problem. When we were studying hematology, we needed lots of blood to do tests with, so we did draw from each other. After a while, we’d just put on the tourniquet and draw it from our own veins, to save time! Looked like a bunch of drug addicts.

The most difficult patients are those with very tiny veins, sometimes not much thicker than the needle, and obese people whose veins are so deep you cannot see them sp you just have to poke around until you finally hit one. You can tell when blood flows into the tube. I won’t even explain how you draw blood from an infant.

You will be dealing with patients, some well, some sick, so it is very important that you enjoy interacting with people, and have a soothing, relaxing attitude. Because many are ill, they may not be happy campers, so good technique in obtaining samples and ability to put them at ease is an important attribute.

I found it fascinating, but did not pursue it in civilian life as it did not pay enough.