Description of the MLS Field
Medical laboratory science (MLS) professionals, also known as clinical laboratory scientists (CLS) or medical technologists (MT), develop, perform, and evaluate clinical laboratory procedures. They also evaluate, correlate, and assure the validity of patient results and laboratory information essential to diagnosing disease and determine maintenance of health (NAACLS, 2019). In addition to being necessary and respected members of the healthcare team, medical laboratory scientists make vital contributions in many other areas of the laboratory sciences. These include:
- Veterinary medicine
- Sales & marketing & instrumentation
- Laboratory supervision and management
- Public health
- Food technology
- Medical, industrial and pharmaceutical research
- Molecular and genetic testing
- Forensic determinations
A huge demand for medical laboratory scientists currently exists, and positions are as varied as the individual’s own preferences and interests. Medical laboratory science is a rapidly growing and changing ﬁeld and provides a varied and interesting profession for someone interested in the sciences and in medicine.
The goal of the MLS program at USciences is to produce competent, highly qualified clinical laboratory professionals according to NAACLS Standards and ASCLS Core Values. This is achieved by providing a program taught by faculty who are committed to the student experience, who excel in their respective academic disciplines, including those who are actively working in the ﬁeld of healthcare, and who are committed to their continual proficiency of the field. Faculty will facilitate the student’s development of scientiﬁc competence and their ability to perform speciﬁc tests and experiments leading to the diagnosis of human disease. Our faculty also aim to foster pride in and excitement of entering the MLS field.
Students who successfully complete the curriculum will be able to:
- Understand the biological, physiological, and pathological basis of disease.
- Have knowledge of and be able to relate normal biological processes to disease situations, as well as have a basic knowledge in broad biological areas.
- Prior to U4 year, demonstrate competency in the laboratory portion of biology and chemistry laboratories; demonstrate knowledge of skills, expectations, current trends, and professional aspects of the ﬁeld of medical laboratory science.
- Possess and demonstrate entry-level skills, competencies, and proﬁciencies in medical laboratory science, as determined by NAACLS requirements, as well as theoretical background in aspects of disease diagnosis.
- Understand the “case study” concept and process and be able to successfully solve case studies and communicate these results.
- Understand and perform quantitative aspects of medical laboratory science such as graphs, charts, laboratory value units, and statistical analysis. Recognize limitations of scientiﬁc plans and approaches.
- Be aware of social, political, and community impact of laboratory medicine and some aspects of healthcare in general. Learn to work well in group settings and interact with other healthcare professionals.
- Acquire an awareness and sensitivity of patient-related issues and the importance of patient conﬁdentiality.
- Demonstrate the ability to read and analyze scientiﬁc literature.
- Demonstrate the ability to read, follow, and compose clinical laboratory procedure manuals, patient reports, and charts.
- Understand how each laboratory test affects patient diagnosis.
- Become lifelong learners and maintain certiﬁcation status through continuing education in the realm of MLS.
The MLS program at USciences provides the student with a solid background in biology, chemistry, mathematics, communication, and MLS concepts. The program is a hospital-based 3+1 program where students are enrolled full-time at USciences for three academic years (U1 – U3), earning at least 97 credits, then continue their education during their fourth year (U4) at an afﬁliated and NACCLS approved hospital medical laboratory science/medical technology (MLS/MT) internship program. This is where students gain practical hands-on in-depth learning of speciﬁc diagnostic skills within at least seven clinical laboratory disciplines.
During the U4 year, at the hospital MLS/MT internship program, the student will earn an additional 32-43 credits. These credits will be transferred to the student’s USciences transcript, quality points assigned and factored into their ﬁnal GPA. If the student satisfactorily obtains the minimum letter grade and required credits from the hospital MLS/MT internship program and USciences courses, they will earn a Certiﬁcate of Completion from the hospital MLS/MT internship program of attendance and will also be conferred a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Laboratory Science from USciences. The graduate will then be eligible to apply for the national certiﬁcation examination given by the Board of Certiﬁcation of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (BOC ASCP). Those who pass will earn 1) the professional designation MLS(ASCP)CM which can be used after their names and 2) the professional recognition of competence to work in the clinical laboratory.
Number grades assigned by the hospital MLS/MT internship program site will be received by the USciences MLS program director, rounded to the nearest whole number and converted to the USciences MLS program grading scheme. Students earning a failing grade will not be eligible for graduation until the course is repeated and a passing grade is earned. The ability to repeat the failing course will be determined by the hospital MLS/MT internship program director. If the student fails the hospital MLS/MT internship program, the student will be dropped from the USciences MLS program and should refer to the “Admission to an Academic Program after Being Dropped from a Program,” “University Dropped from the Rolls,” and “Changing Majors” policies for possible outcomes located in the student handbook.
Each hospital MLS/MT internship program will have their own start and end date and will run between 10 - 12 months. Most hospital MLS/MT internship programs start in the late summer between U3 and U4 year and end early - midsummer of their U4 year. This means the student is eligible to walk during May graduation but will not receive their diploma until their grades have successfully transferred from the hospital program to their USciences transcript.
To round out their educational experience during their time at USciences (U1-U3 years), students can, and are encouraged to, take part in the myriad student-lead organizations, university-wide research labs, physical ﬁtness, and emotional- and-academic-support programs. Students are still enrolled at USciences during they U4 year and therefor they still have access to the above resources, however, any laboratory research will be terminated due to time constraints of the hospital MLS/MT internship program.
Hospital Program Eligibility and Application Process
Students apply to the hospital MLS/MT internship program during the summer following completion of their U2 year. A cumulative grade point average of 2.90 in required science courses (see below) is mandatory to submit an application and thus progress from U2 to U3. (This GPA is currently based on requirements of the hospital afﬁliates and is subject to change based on the hospital requirements.) If the student does not achieve the minimum required GPA at the end of U2, the student could be dropped from the program and should refer to the “Admission to an Academic Program after Being Dropped from a Program,” “University Dropped from the Rolls,” and “Changing Majors” policies located in the student handbook. Students should consult with their advisor to ascertain if they may be eligible to change majors and reapply to the Medical Laboratory Science program at a later date.
The following courses are required to gain admission into a hospital MLS/MT program:
- Biology Courses (16 semester hours) including Microbiology, Immunology, Anatomy & Physiology, Genetics/ Molecular Biology
- Chemistry Courses (16 semester hours) including Organic Chemistry/Biochemistry
- Calculus (Pre-calculus is satisfactory) and Statistics
Acceptance into an internship is not guaranteed and is solely based on the discretion of the hospital program director. Hospital program directors base their decisions on grades, recommendations, and an on-site interview. If the student does not obtain acceptance into a hospital MLS/MT internship program, the student will be dropped from the USciences MLS program and should refer to the “Admission to an Academic Program after Being Dropped from a Program,” “University Dropped from the Rolls,” and “Changing Majors” policies for possible outcomes located in the student handbook.
Hospital MLS/MT Internship Program Overview
The purpose of the hospital MLS/MT internship program is to further educate, train, and prepare the student as an entry level employee in a clinical laboratory. In addition, the program will prepare the student for the national certification examination given by ASCP. Information about the exam can be found at the ASCP Get Credentialed website. It is highly encouraged that students take the exam as soon as possible after their completion of the hospital MLS/MT internship program.
USciences MLS Program hospital MLS/MT internship program affiliates are approved by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). The afﬁliates are hospitals that have kept pace with technological developments, possess the newest instrumentation, and have established excellent medical and surgical services.
Hospital MLS/MT internship programs charge tuition and are not necessarily located in the Philadelphia area, therefore, students may need to relocate for their U4 year. Some of these hospitals provide tuition reimbursement, provided the students work for its healthcare system after graduation. Detailed information about this option will be discussed at the time of the interview. The University assists students in applying to an approved hospital MLS/MT internship program and holds formal afﬁliations with the schools of medical technology or medical laboratory science at the following hospitals:
- Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, PA
- St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Philadelphia, PA
- Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, Lancaster, PA
- Reading Hospital School of Medical Laboratory Science, Reading, PA
- Jersey Shore University Medical Center/Meridian Health, Neptune, NJ
- The Valley Hospital, Ridgewood, NJ
- UPMC Chautauqua Medical Laboratory Science Program, Jamestown, NY
- New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn, NY
- Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland OH
Each hospital MLS/MT internship program will have their own start and end date and will run between 10 - 12 months. The dynamics of each individual program are unique to one another, however they will all cover education in the following clinical laboratory departments, as per NAACLS standards:
- Clinical hematology/coagulation analyzes the type, quality, and quantity of the cellular blood components (red cells, white cells, and platelets) and assists in the diagnosis of the disorders associated with these cells and the blood-forming tissues.
- Clinical immunohematology utilizes immunological reactions to perform blood typing and crossmatching techniques and prepares blood components for transfusion.
- Clinical Microbiology involves the study of the causative agents of infection (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites) and explores possible treatment options; assists with hospital and community infectious disease surveillance and control.
- Clinical immunology/serology identifies infectious and non-infectious diseases and identifies and quantifies antibodies by utilizing the principles of immunological reactions. This department is useful in the screening, detection and diagnosis of many non-culturable or slow-growing viral and bacterial agents causing infection, as well as autoimmune conditions and diseases.
- In clinical chemistry, qualitative and quantitative chemical reactions are used to assess minute amounts of analytes in the body. This department is the workhorse of the clinical laboratory where hundreds to thousands of tests are run per day.
- The molecular diagnostics department is where nucleic acid analysis and molecular techniques are performed to identify and quantitate agents of infectious disease. In addition, this department may scrutinize a human gene sequence for pharmacogenomic interpretation, typing malignant neoplasms, or recommending specific chemotherapeutic treatment. The technology used in this department is on the leading edge of clinical lab science.
- Phlebotomy is the practice of drawing blood using venipuncture. This is the main way blood is obtained for laboratory analysis. The venipuncture process as well as tubes used vs. test ordered and the order in which the tubes are drawn are part of the phlebotomy training.
- Other areas of study are endocrinology, urinalysis, cytogenetics, pathology, instrumentation, quality control, cell biology, ﬂow cytometry, laboratory management, and laboratory information systems.
A Note on State Licensure
The following states require MLS licensure to practice: California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Some states allow ASCP MLS certification to be used in place of the state licensure exam, however, each state is different in this regard. More information can be found at https://ascls.org/advocacy-issues/licensure.
Because USciences’ MLS Program holds an affiliation with 2 New York State hospital MLS/MT internship programs, the following information is provided: New York state requires an MLS license to be gainfully employed in clinical laboratories. Additional courses: biochemistry laboratory or analytical chemistry with laboratory, are required to apply for the exam. Because of the compressed nature of USciences’ MLS program, neither biochemistry laboratory nor an analytical chemistry course is part of the required course curriculum. If you are interested in gaining licensure in NY state, you are welcome to fulfill these courses at an alternate institution. More information can be found at the New York State Board of Education Office of Professions website.
Misher College of Arts and Sciences Requirements for Graduation
In order to earn a degree from USciences Misher College of Arts and Sciences, a student must complete thirty (30) in-residence credits at a University campus. Fifteen (15) of the thirty in-residence credits must be at the 300 level or higher. In-residence credits are deﬁned as credits for courses offered by the University for which a student receives credit and a grade that can contribute to the student’s calculated grade point average. Students must also complete general education discipline and skills requirements. This is all built into the MLS curriculum and is easily achieved if entering the program as a U1 student. Transfer students will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Earning a Dual Degree
If a student wishes to earn a dual degree while enrolled in the MLS program, the MLS program is extended by at least 1 year, converting it from a 3+1 to a 4+1 program, or longer. The latest a student may choose to enroll in an additional degree program is by the end of their MLS U2 year. Credit requirements for both degrees must be met in order to earn both degrees. More information can be found in the student handbook. Common dual degree choices are: BS MLS + BS BMS, BS MLS + BS Biology, BS MLS + BS Microbiology. Other dual degree programs outside of these three most common choices may take longer than 5 years to complete.