Clinical Biochemist – A Definition
Clinical Biochemistry is the division of laboratory medicine that deals with the measurement of chemicals (both natural and unnatural) in blood, urine and other body fluids. These test results are useful for detecting health problems, determining prognosis and guiding the therapy of a patient. As many as 60% of clinical decisions are made based on laboratory test results, the majority of which are Biochemistry.
Clinical Biochemists are PhD level scientists with specialized post-doctoral training in laboratory medicine. All hold certification from the Canadian Academy of Clinical Biochemistry or equivalent. Ongoing professional competence is ensured through participation in the Maintenance of Competence program offered by the Academy.
Clinical Biochemists ensure that consistent high quality, accurate and precise biochemical test results are provided so that high quality care can be provided to the patient. Clinical Biochemists lead the development and implementation of laboratory quality management systems that encompass all aspects of the testing process: pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical.
The primary responsibilities of a Clinical Biochemist include:
- Interpretation of patient laboratory tests for screening, diagnosis, management and monitoring of disease processes.
- Development of interpretive guides for other professionals using the laboratory service, through the selection and validation of reference intervals, interpretive comments and critical values.
- In consultation with clinical colleagues, development, implementation and monitoring of testing algorithms, appropriate testing turnaround times, practice guidelines and care pathways.
- Provide oversight and guidance for point-of-care testing programs both in hospital and community settings.
- Development and implementation of policies and procedures to ensure the laboratory produces high quality information, and meets regulatory requirements and standards of practice.
- Selection of test methods and instrumentation.
- Assessment of the scientific and medical value of potential new tests, evaluation of the ongoing value of existing tests, in order to optimize patient care and the use of health care resources.
- Teaching and research.
Clinical Biochemists work in a variety of settings, including hospital, community and reference laboratories and in industry. The Clinical Biochemist interacts with many of other professionals, including physicians, nurses, technologists, administrators, government officials, students (medical and technical), and business personnel. The daily variety makes Clinical Biochemistry a stimulating, challenging and enjoyable profession.
For more information:
Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists
4 Cataraqui Street, Suite 310
Kingston ON K7K 1Z7