CLS are competent in the collection, processing, and analysis of biological specimens; the performance of lab procedures; the maintenance of instruments; and relating lab findings to common diseases/conditions. The work of a CLS involves a wide variety of responsibilities in several areas of laboratory medicine. Some of the tasks performed include:
- identification of infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites
- analysis of blood to detect disorders such as leukemia, hemophilia and immunodeficiency
- measuring the presence of antibodies in blood to indicate infection with agents like HIV
- assuring the quality and compatibility of blood for transfusions
- analysis of other bodily fluids such as tissues, saliva, urine
- calibrate and sterilize medical lab equipment
In addition to conducting the laboratory tests, the CLS:
- assures the quality of test data
- compares and selects appropriate laboratory methods and instruments
- provides physicians and researchers with information on the validity and significance of test results
- enter information about a patient’s results into their medical history
- supervises other laboratory personnel such as medical lab technicians
Where do Clinical Lab Scientists work?
CLS work in hospitals, clinics, forensic or public health laboratories, as well as pharmaceutical industries, biotechnology companies, veterinary clinics, or research institutions. Depending on the setting, their work hours may vary; but typically labs are run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This allows for flexibility in scheduling. CLS spend the majority of their time on their feet, analyzing test results in the lab.
It is estimated that 70% of all medical decisions made by physicians are based on this vital information provided by CLS.