EDUCATION

Laboratory Careers in Molecular Pathology

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Types of Careers       Certification Routes       Types of Certification       Licensure Information       Tools       Maintaining Certification       

AMP Technologist Community 

Types of Careers

 

Technologists

Lab Assistant

Lab assistants help to process and prepare samples for molecular testing. Some can collect blood because of training in phlebotomy but most molecular labs have lab assistants who do work preparing samples and who sometimes help monitor and maintain instruments while they are running. Lab assistants might also perform tasks like reagent preparation, stocking, and ordering supplies.

 

Technologist

Cytogenetic: Cytotechnologists or “cytotechs” perform a specialized collection of tests that allow visualization of chromosomes. This involves culturing tissue and then “freezing” cells in metaphase so their condensed chromosomes can be examined under the microscope. Cytotechs then sort and align the chromosomes to see macroscopic structural changes which might be linked to certain diseases.

Molecular: Molecular Technologists perform tests that examine and characterize RNA and DNA. This can be specific to particular sequences of interest or can be an examination of entire genomes or transcriptomes. Some laboratories focus on testing nucleic acids exclusively from human samples while others look at microorganism RNA and DNA as well.

 

Manager / Administrative Director

Managers and Administrative Directors in molecular laboratories typically have experience in molecular technology as a technologist and often have a Master’s degree in a technical area or in business. Their responsibilities may include benchwork but will always include responsibility for managing staffing and operations for the laboratory. In larger labs, specific aspects of laboratory management like operations, quality, or education may be given to specific managers within the management team. Depending on the state where the lab is located, there may be two labs with operations overseen by the administrative director: A research laboratory where tests are developed and a clinical lab where diagnostic testing is performed.

 

Medical Director

The medical director is typically an individual with a doctorate who has fellowship, postdoctoral, or other training in molecular diagnostics. Often, this individual is board certified in the technical area that they oversee. MDs and PhDs both qualify for this position but different states have specific requirements for how each can qualify for this role.


Certification Routes:

 

ASCP Board of Certification  

AMT Molecular Certification

U.S. Procedures for Examination & Certification (pdf)

 

Training Options:

  1. Experience: On-the-job training  
  2. Bachelor’s or Master's Degree
  3. Certification

*Please remember that not all molecular diagnostic programs satisfy the requirements for certification eligibility whether they end with a certificate or a degree. Researching programs before beginning is essential.

Start here: The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laborator Science. They have a searchable database for accredited and approved programs in the field. 

 

Types of Certification:

 

MB: Molecular Biologist:

ASCP Eligibility Assistant

     Click on the US Certification tab > Click on the "MB" link under the Technologist/Scientist Certification heading

MDT(AMT): Molecular Diagnostics Technologist:

AMT Eligibility Assistant

SMB: Specialist in Molecular Biology: 

ASCP Eligibility Assistant

     Click on the US Certification tab > Click on the "SMB" link under the Specialist Certification heading

 

Licensure Information:

 

State Licensure (ASCP State Licensure Information)

     Click on the State Licensure tab

 

Tools:

 

Study Guides

AMP Molecular In My Pocket cards 

     The AMP Training and Education Committee has produced a series of quick reference cards for trainees and anyone looking to quickly reference molecular diagnostics information.

 

Practice Exams:

AMP - MGP Fellowship in Service Examination (FISE)

     These exam questions were written by MGP faculty from many MGP-Fellowship institutions and cover a range of topics. Each iteration of the exam pulls 45 random questions from a bank of 220+ questions. Though designed for MGP Fellows, it is relevant for all interested in molecular certification. There is a small administrative fee for each exam.

MB(ASCP) and SMB(ASCP) 

     Specialist in Molecular Biology Board Certification by the American Society for Clinical Pathology & MT(AAB) Molecular Biology Board Certification by the American Association of Bioanalysts

     Click on the "Get the MB(ASCP) Practice Exam" link or "Get the SMB(ASCP) Practice Exam" link

 

Recommended Books

ASCP Book List

AMP MGP Review Course board review book list 

AMP Molecular Pathology book list 

 

Maintaining Certification:

 

AMPEDTM

     This is an online source for ASCP accredited continuing education topics with a molecular focus. Some are free to all and some are available free to members

AACC 

     These are online courses available (for a fee) in laboratory management, quality, and molecular topics

ASM

     Browse from molecular topics related to microbial identification and surveillance

AGT

     These webinars are free for members, or for a small fee for non-members. They are focused around molecular assays but have general information 

ASHG

     CME programs on cell-free DNA screening and screening for childhood diseases - may not work for all licenses 

 

AMP Technologist Community:

Member Spotlights 

AMP 2019 Annual Meeting

     Check the AMP Program for Technologist-specific content, mixers, and events.

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