Medical laboratory science is a branch of the health care industry that focuses specifically on laboratory work related to the proper testing and analysis of body fluids, cells, bacteria and other microorganisms, as well as laboratory testing of chemicals, gases, medications and their effects on the human body.
Medical laboratory science is a branch of medical sciences that deals with the etiology, pathogenesis, laboratory diagnosis, treatment and control of infections. It is one of the fastest-growing professions in healthcare. This page reviews the details of Branches Of Medical Laboratory Science, medical laboratory science requirements, branches of medical laboratory science, medical laboratory science requirements and role of medical laboratory scientist in public health and more on collegelearners.
Branches of Medical Laboratory Science will enable you to gain an overview of the main areas in the quickly advancing field of medical laboratory science. The text takes a unique approach, by demonstrating through case studies how the author’s career has evolved, with convincing evidence that you should focus on these sections that are applicable to your journey toward becoming a registered medical laboratory technologist. Read on to know more on Branches Of Medical Laboratory Science, medical laboratory science requirements, branches of medical laboratory science, medical laboratory science requirements and role of medical laboratory scientist in public health.
A typical bachelor’s degree path to becoming a medical laboratory scientist will typically take four to five years. Med lab sciences is a branch of medical sciences that deals with the etiology, pathogenesis, laboratory diagnosis, treatment and control of infections.
Branches Of Medical Laboratory Science
We begin with Branches Of Medical Laboratory Science, then medical laboratory science requirements, branches of medical laboratory science, can a medical laboratory scientist become a medical doctor and role of medical laboratory scientist in public health.
Courses in Medical Laboratory Science are offered under five disciplines: MLS Clinical Chemistry, MLS Haematology, MLS Histopathology, MLS Medical Microbiology, MLS Medical Parasitology/ Entomology and MLS Immunology/Immunochemistry.
- Clinical biochemistry
- Immunology (blood bank)
- Immunohematology (blood bank)
- Histopathology, histocompatibility, cytopathology, genetics, cytogenetics, electron microscopy
medical laboratory science requirements
Now we focus on medical laboratory science requirements, branches of medical laboratory science, can a medical laboratory scientist become a medical doctor and role of medical laboratory scientist in public health.
A medical laboratory scientist should possess specific vital attributes to succeed in the field. The Mayo Clinic notes the following as critical personal qualities that an aspiring medical laboratory scientist should possess:
- Aptitude for basic sciences, laboratory instrumentation, and computers: A medical laboratory scientist will use various instruments and computer technology and must utilize their knowledge of the sciences to perform tests correctly.
- Ability to perform tasks carefully and quickly: Tasks must be completed efficiently and correctly within specific time frames.
- Ability to be thorough, precise, and self-sufficient: Medical laboratory scientists must often work with little supervision and be detailed and accurate in their tasks to provide accurate results.
- Emotional stability: Even though medical laboratory scientists deal with patients’ personal information, they must remain emotionally stable while conducting their work.
- Ability to think critically and problem-solve: Answers to pressing questions may not always be readily apparent; as such, a medical laboratory scientist should be able to analyze the problem and come up with a fact-based solution.
- Ability to write well and communicate orally: Medical laboratory scientists may be required to write reports on their results and often deliver information orally to physicians. Because of this, they should have excellent communication skills, both written and oral.
These are only a handful of valuable skills possessed by effective medical laboratory scientists. Many others may be important throughout the course of work.
ROLE REQUIREMENTS MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENTISTS
Typically, to work as a medical laboratory scientist, an individual must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree at an accredited institution. Ideally, the degree should be in a relevant field, such as clinical or medical laboratory science, biomedical science, or a life science program such as biology or biochemistry.
Before an individual can begin work as a medical laboratory scientist, they may choose to obtain certification from the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP), which certifies an individual as a medical laboratory scientist. As of January 2022, the ASCP offers six routes of eligibility:
- Route 1: Applicant has a bachelor’s degree from a medical laboratory scientist program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).
- Route 2: Applicant is certified as a medical laboratory technician, has a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, and has two years of full-time acceptable clinical laboratory experience in a relevant field.
- Route 3: Applicant is certified as a clinical laboratory assistant, has a bachelor’s degree, and has four years of work experience in a relevant field.
- Route 4: Applicant has a bachelor’s degree and five years of related work experience.
- Route 5: Applicant holds current medical technician (MT)/medical laboratory science (MLS) certification through the ASCP, a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university, and five years of full-time clinical experience.
- Route 6: Applicant has completed a 50-week US military medical laboratory training course in the past ten years, holds a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university, and has one year of full-time clinical experience.
The certification application fee for the American Society of Clinical Pathology is $240.
At present, in 2022, there are 11 US states and territories that require state-level or facility-granted certification for medical laboratory scientists. In addition, some but not all of the states accept national-level certification from ASCP. Because of this, aspiring medical laboratory scientists must obtain all information necessary from their state or territory of residence regarding licensure requirements. More detailed information about state licensure is provided below.
STEPS TO BECOMING A MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENTIST
As the multiple eligibility pathway routes listed above show, there is no one set path that all individuals must follow to become certified medical laboratory scientists. However, in general, certain steps will be the same for those interested in working in this field. The following is the most common path towards the MLS career.
STEP ONE: EARN A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA (FOUR YEARS)
To begin, students should obtain a high school diploma or a GED. One of these is a requirement for admissions into virtually all four-year colleges or universities and therefore is necessary for certification as a medical laboratory scientist. Furthermore, while not explicitly required, high school students should aim to excel in chemistry, biology, mathematics, English, and foreign language courses to gain admission into a reputable college or university.
If possible, it’s recommended for students to pursue internships or summer employment in a healthcare clinic to understand the work environment.
STEP TWO: EARN A BACHELOR’S DEGREE (FOUR YEARS)
Once a student has completed high school, they should enroll in a four-year accredited college or university and pursue a bachelor’s degree. For those students who cannot attend a four-year college for financial reasons, the military may be an acceptable alternate route since some military programs provide medical laboratory scientist training for those who commit to service. When selecting a degree program, it is advised to ask if there are practical learning opportunities to round out classroom- and laboratory-based instruction.
An example program is the bachelor of science in medical laboratory science offered by the University of Cincinnati Online. This allied health program is designed for associate’s degree holders in clinical laboratory technology (CLT) or medical laboratory technology (MLT). The coursework prepares graduates for the competencies, ethics, and professionalism required for the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science certification. This fully online program includes practical clinical experiences and accepts transfer credits from programs accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).
- Location: Cincinnati, OH
- Duration: Two years
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Tuition: $276 per credit (residents); $291 per credit (non-residents)
STEP THREE: GAIN CLINICAL EXPERIENCE (TIMELINE VARIES)
During a four-year degree program, students should perform additional hands-on training, including internships with other medical laboratory scientists or volunteer programs at local labs or hospitals. Training of this kind will provide a wealth of practical knowledge. In addition, it will help the student develop meaningful professional connections in the medical field, which can be invaluable when it comes time to find a job.
The Mayo Clinic, a non-profit healthcare organization committed to providing clinical practice, education, and research, offers a prestigious medical laboratory science program at its campuses in Jacksonville, Florida, and Rochester, Minnesota. This hybrid program includes online and in-person learning experiences and does not require participants to relocate. Only 24 students are accepted annually, and applicants can apply from September 1 through December 15th each year. Graduates are prepared to work for the Mayo Clinic or other certified medical laboratory science roles.
- Location: Jacksonville, FL, and Rochester, MN
- Duration: 10.5 months
- Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Scientists (NAACLS)
- Tuition: $18,550 total
STEP FOUR: BECOME CERTIFIED (TIMELINE VARIES)
Once the student graduates and has obtained the necessary work experience, they should begin applying with the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP)’s Board of Certification (BOC) to become certified as a medical laboratory scientist. Upon applying for the certification exam and submitting an application fee and required documentation, the ASCP will notify an applicant via email if their application has been accepted or not to take the certification exam.
STEP FIVE: FIND ENTRY-LEVEL WORK
Finally, once the individual obtains certification as a medical laboratory scientist, they should begin searching for relevant employment in a clinical laboratory. After getting a certain amount of additional work experience, the medical laboratory scientist may apply for positions that require additional specialties, including blood banking, clinical biochemistry, microbiology, toxicology, or many other areas.
how to study medical laboratory science
After obtaining a high school diploma (or the equivalent), most will go on to obtain some level of higher education and training in order to become a medical laboratory scientist.
Common higher education requirements for medical laboratory scientist jobs include:
- Completing a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or clinical laboratory science. A bachelor’s degree in a science or health related field (e.g. chemistry or microbiology) may also be considered.
- Completing a clinical laboratory program or internship through a hospital-based program or as part of their education
- National certification as a medical technologist (MT), clinical laboratory scientist (CLS), or medical laboratory scientist (MLS)
- Previous experience in a health care setting
can a medical laboratory scientist become a medical doctor
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Many people have the misconception that a medical lab scientist is not a real doctor. But these professionals are just as qualified to pursue careers in the medical field as other aspiring doctors. Medical lab scientists can become medical doctors by following the same education path as other aspiring doctors by attending medical school.
Medical lab scientists spend their time in labs where they perform tests on blood samples and other bodily fluids. They are responsible for analyzing these samples, which help determine a patient’s health status. For example, if a patient comes into the emergency room with chest pains, a lab scientist may check their blood for signs of heart disease or stroke by testing for cholesterol levels or other markers such as creatinine or troponin I/TnI levels in order to determine whether they need further testing or treatment.
The education path for becoming a medical lab scientist is not very different from becoming an MD (Doctor of Medicine). First, you will need at least an undergraduate degree in biology or another related field such as chemistry or biochemistry with laboratories courses including anatomy/physiology and microbiology courses that cover topics like genetics/genomics and cell biology/cytology techniques such as PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) techniques which are used to detect
role of medical laboratory scientist in public health
Medical laboratory scientists are the backbone of infection control. In the United States, they can be certified and employed as infection control practitioners who monitor and report infectious disease findings to help limit iatrogenic and nosocomial infections. They may also educate other healthcare workers about such problems and ways to minimize them.
As an infection control practitioner, you will work in a hospital or other healthcare facility to ensure that all equipment and materials are properly sterilized before use in patient care. You will also monitor patients for signs of infection or exposure to communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and HIV/AIDS.
Infection control practitioners typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in microbiology or medical technology; however, some employers may accept a high school diploma with extensive experience in laboratory sciences instead of a bachelor’s degree if certain criteria are met.
You should have excellent communication skills so that you can effectively communicate with patients, families, physicians and other healthcare workers on issues related to infection prevention within your organization.