According to Giddens, while most people do think of a hospital laboratory when imagining
the work environment for a medical laboratory scientist, there are many more tests
than most hospital laboratories are equipped to run. These tests must be conducted
in offsite labs—commonly known as reference laboratories—that offer specialty testing.
These reference laboratories employ medical laboratory scientists as do crime labs,
toxicology labs, DNA labs, water treatment facilities and even manufacturing and food
Medical laboratory scientists may also be employed in other clinical settings or even
in academia. A practicing medical laboratory scientist for more than 20 years, Giddens
has a wide variety of clinical and academic experience including working as a laboratory
director of the Southern Interventional Pain Center, a pain management practice with locations in Georgia and Florida, and as a medical
technologist at Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie, Georgia. In addition
to her current role at PCOM, she has prior academic experience in which she applied
her skills and knowledge in medical laboratory science as an adjunct professor at
North Georgia Community College and as an assistant professor and director of the
medical laboratory science program at Thomas University.
Though career opportunities exist outside of hospitals, Feldstein—who is board certified
in emergency medicine and previously worked as an emergency room physician— emphasized
the important role medical laboratory scientists play on a hospital healthcare team.
“People need to understand that physicians make a physical diagnosis based on the
history and physical exam, but a lot of times you are very dependent upon the lab
tests for your diagnosis and treatment,” Feldstein explained.
And in the emergency room, he added, time is of the essence.
“We’re the highest priority, we want it done quickly and we need to have confidence
that the results we’re getting are accurate,” he said. “Laboratory scientists are
as integral a part as any member of the healthcare team because inaccurate laboratory
results can result in life or death situations from not only a diagnostic, but a treatment
According to Giddens, emergency room physicians are not the only healthcare providers
who rely upon medical laboratory scientists for accurate and timely test results.
“Typically our orders are derived from physicians, physician assistants and nurse
practitioners, but we do interact with nearly every member of the healthcare team
during that process,” she said.
In addition to interacting with nurses—who are often the primary point of contact—medical
laboratory scientists also interact with pharmacists while monitoring certain medication
levels, radiology technicians prior to administering certain contrast materials, operating
room staff during surgery cases, as well as providers in specialty care areas including
oncology, dialysis, pulmonology and environmental services.