Lab Technicians Play a Critical Role Behind the Scenes

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Lab technician Kavita Cain shown in her Ohio lab
Kavita Cain, a lab tech in Ohio, says much of her time nowadays is spent performing COVID, flu and other respiratory tests. (Credit: Courtesy Kavita Cain)

Kavita Cain is a lab technologist in Pickerington, Ohio. She works at Pickerington Medical Campus where she’s been for five years. Prior to that, she worked at Grant Medical Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio.

Why did you get into this line of work?

Ever since my mother and father passed away from illness at a young age, I wanted to do something related to healthcare. But I was not really interested in research. I wanted to work in a clinical lab.

What does a typical day for a lab technician look like?

I usually start my day by touching base with the members of the previous shift — reviewing how their shift was and if there is anything urgent I need to know about before they leave. Then I perform some basic maintenance of the specialized testing equipment we use in the lab. Next, I do some quality-assurance tests to make sure our tests will run accurately on each of the machines. Lab technicians often specialize. Some specialize in chemistry – others in hematology, urinalysis, blood bank or microbiology. As a generalist, I work in a number of those areas during my daily routine. On one patient I am doing blood typing, on the next I may run a pregnancy test and on the next I may be looking for abnormalities using a microscope. Lately, a lot of my time is spent performing COVID, flu and other respiratory tests. 

What do you like most about your job?

Although some of us do draw blood at certain locations, the place I work at has phlebotomists and nurses who draw blood — thank goodness, because I do not like to draw blood! So I like that I do not have any patient contact but still play a huge part in diagnosis and analysis of patient samples.

What’s the most common misconception about being a laboratory technician?

The common misconception about my job is that people think the doctors and nurses do all the testing. Most people don’t realize the important role we play. We are the ones who process and analyze blood samples and help the doctor and nurses determine what is wrong with their patients.

What personality traits or qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?

This job is definitely for someone who is interested in helping people, but prefers not working directly with patients. It would be a good job for an introvert or someone who is sort of a "lab nerd."

Is there a time where you felt your job made a real impact on someone’s life?

When I was at Grant Medical Center, I worked in transfusion services. With Grant being a Level 1 trauma center, we saw quite a few gunshots, stab wounds and internal bleeding problems come through the emergency room. These patients were often rushed to surgery and we had to work fast. Sometimes we worked for hours on the same patient getting blood and blood products to the operating room and, in the end, when we would hear news of the patient survival and that he or she was out of danger, it made me feel all that hard work was worth it!

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