Medical Lab AssistantWatch
An MLA is NOT that useful for a gap year before a Medicine Degree really.
It is paid at Band 2, if you have no previous experience. MLA's do different jobs in different departments - Biochem & Haematology, Microbiology, Histology, (and maybe immunology - but there's not many of these posts).
Haematology & Biochemistry
When you first start to work, you are expected to barcode samples that arrive from the wards or GP's and then book them in for the required tests, and then take them round to the labs for them to be analysed. Once you have been fully trained, you may be lucky enough to actually do some sendaway tests! (Which is just as boring as it sounds - you prepare samples to be sent for tests at other labs).
Some of these labs will operate a shift system for the MLA's, in which case, once you are trained you can get an annually increased wage, based on the hours you work. This, really, is the only positive side on this post of MLA.
Although you might do slightly more as an MLA in Microbiology, you still do the basic tasks; barcoding and registering, as well as autoclaving and disposal, and maybe some menial lab tasks. It all depends on the lab and the type of bosses you have.
There is almost no room for out of hour work, as generally, Microbiology don't work massively OOH, apart from maybe some weekend work.
Similar to Microbiology work, a bit more practical than Haemat and Biochem, but again, no real room for OOH work.
As I said above, not many labs actually have Immunology labs (there's usually one per trust), and the MLA's will do similar work to the Haematology and Biochemistry MLA's.
I've worked as a Trainee BMS in a Haematology and Transfusion lab over the past year, and the MLA's - though integral to the system, is not a good job for prospective medical students. The only thing you will get from it is a very easy job, and an inside knowledge of how the tests are done, and how the lab works (which I feel is quite important anyway).
Hope this explains everything. Feel free to ask me any questions.
Thanks in advance