How Lab Technicians Can Stay Ahead of New Procedures and Skills

In 2019, different professional bodies sounded the alarm about a skills shortage in medical labs worldwide. According to institutions like the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, not enough new lab technicians are joining the profession, and experienced individuals are retiring too frequently. While automation can help overcome some of these shortages, educational institutions should encourage students in STEM programs to consider a career in diagnostics.

To keep ahead, lab technicians need to continue updating their skill sets as new technologies, methodologies, or discoveries reshape the workflows and procedures deployed in the laboratory.

Four Ways Lab Technicians Can Keep Up with Procedures and Skills Updates

It's important for any lab technician who wants a long and fruitful career to stay up to date. Here's how.

  • Improve the Quality of Your Assays
  • A recent study in the United Kingdom found that lab procedures used to screen enzymes had a significant impact on identifying new molecules worthy of further study. The research showed that in high throughput environments, the hit rates for molecules increased significantly depending on the assay's quality.

    This will put other laboratories under pressure to review current screening procedures and refine their techniques to increase the Z-factor of their high throughput screening processes.

  • Adopt the Latest Laboratory Safety Guidelines
  • All lab technicians should be familiar with the latest guidelines from the World Health Organization. If you work with assays in a Point of Care (PoC) facility, implementing the new guidance is essential for laboratory safety. Elevated safety procedures from the Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC) aim to keep lab technicians safe while limiting sample contamination risks during workflows.

    Additional requirements may apply when working in a busy lab with many individuals sharing the same space. To keep everyone safe, follow all the latest lab safety procedures like disinfecting and frequently sanitizing the lab and equipment.

  • Take Up Additional Equipment Training
  • With many different types of complex and sophisticated equipment used in the lab, a technician's training never stops. You'll need to know how to calibrate, operate, maintain, and troubleshoot the equipment, which may require specialized training from the manufacturer. Some devices may also require a specific workflow, which you'll need to become familiar with before using the equipment.

    As a lab technician, you should always be aware of the new procedures and diagnostic technologies, which are advancing rapidly. If you're responsible for less experienced lab technicians, you'll also need the necessary soft skills and excellent communication to transfer your knowledge successfully.

  • Specialize and Take Further Studies
  • After qualifying as a lab technician, you can also choose a specialization within fields like phlebotomy, microbiology, cytogenetics, or immunology. Although training programs cover these subjects, experience in physical lab settings will be essential to progress your career. You also have the option to become a laboratory technologist, which will require a bachelor's degree and a more extensive knowledge base compared to technicians.

    While a career as a lab technician may be rewarding in itself, it's often the first step up the ladder to a more senior role in the lab. Lab technicians can become lab managers, research supervisors, or even principal investigators if you continue studying post qualification.

Protecting Sample Integrity with Gilson Instruments and Pipettes

Gilson works with laboratories around the world to find optimized workflows and scale sampling operations as required. With a skills shortage for lab technicians worldwide, we can assist with modern, automated solutions that maintain sample integrity and increase throughput, which helps you save time so you can spend more time analyzing your results.

For lab technicians, Gilson provides complete end-to-end support and specialized training on any of our instruments. Our systems can help reduce error rates, improve record-keeping practices, and enhance reproducibility. We can assist any analytical or medical lab with various platforms, connected instruments, and software systems to reduce the workloads on lab technicians.

To find out how Gilson can help lab technicians improve their workflows and update their skill sets, contact one of our technical experts today.

Pipettes Designed with You in Mind

For more than 60 years, we’ve been creating pipettes with accuracy, comfort, and reliability as a top priority. Today, we offer a variety of pipettes in a range of ergonomic designs and volume sizes that enhance your pipetting experience and help you achieve reproducible, reliable results.