A medical laboratory scientist, also referred to as a medical technologist, is an allied health professional who is qualified by academic and practical training to perform complex analytical tests in a clinical laboratory.
These highly skilled scientists discover the presence or absence of disease and provide data that helps physicians determine the best treatment for the patient. With the use of advanced skills and sophisticated biomedical instrumentation, medical
laboratory scientists work behind-the-scenes to determine the levels of chemicals constituents in blood and body fluids, classify cells for abnormalities, identify bacteria and viruses causing infection and uncover markers for cancer and inherited
genetic diseases. In addition, they confirm the accuracy of test results and monitor the quality of testing procedures.
Individuals interested in a career in medical laboratory science must have a keen interest in science and mathematics and enjoy problem solving. They must work well under pressure, be organized to finish a task once started, expect quality in their work
and be able to work with minimal supervision. Patient contact is limited.
To prepare for a career in medical laboratory science, a student must have a bachelor's degree in science plus clinical education in an accredited medical laboratory science program. Many colleges and universities offer a degree in medical laboratory
science via two routes of entry: a "3+1" or a "4+1" route.
In the "3+1" route (also known as a university-based program), students complete approximately three years of appropriate prerequisite courses at an accredited college or university that is affiliated with a clinical laboratory. During the fourth year,
they complete an internship at an affiliated clinical laboratory which is usually located in a hospital. In this route, the student will be granted a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Laboratory Science from the college or university upon successful
completion of the clinical internship.
Students who elect a "4+1" route (also known as a hospital-based program) first complete their baccalaureate degree at a college or university that offers the appropriate prerequisite medical laboratory science courses. During the senior year, they apply
and interview for admission into an accredited hospital-based medical laboratory science program. The student then completes the clinical internship after graduation from the university.
Upon successful completion of either route, students are eligible to take the national Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) certification examination offered by the ASCP Board of Certification.