What is a Medical Laboratory Scientist?
The medical laboratory scientist is qualified by academic and applied science education to provide service and research in clinical laboratory science and related areas in rapidly changing and dynamic healthcare delivery systems. Medical laboratory scientists perform, develop, evaluate, correlate and assure accuracy and validity of laboratory information, direct and supervise clinical laboratory resources and operations, and collaborate in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.
The medical laboratory scientist:
- Has diverse and multi‐level functions in the principles, methodologies, and performance of assays
- Leverages problem‐solving and troubleshooting techniques
- Engages in the interpretation and evaluation of clinical procedures and results
- Relies upon statistical approaches to data evaluation
- Has a thorough understanding of the principles and practices of quality assurance & quality improvement
- Subject to continuous assessment of laboratory services for all major areas practiced in the contemporary clinical laboratory
- Possesses the skills necessary for financial, operations, marketing, and human resource management of the clinical laboratory
Medical laboratory technicians practice independently and collaboratively, being responsible for their own actions, as defined by the profession. They have the requisite knowledge and skills to educate laboratory professionals, other health care professionals, and others in laboratory practice as well as the public. The ability to relate to people, a capacity for calm and reasoned judgment and a demonstration of commitment to the patient are essential qualities. Communications skills extend to consultative interactions with members of the healthcare team, external relations, customer service, and patient education.
Medical laboratory scientists demonstrate ethical and moral attitudes and principles that are necessary for gaining and maintaining the confidence of patients, professional associates, and the community.
Entry-Level Competencies of the Medical Laboratory Technician
At the entry-level, the medical laboratory technician will possess the entry-level competencies necessary to perform the full range of clinical laboratory tests in areas such as:
- Clinical Chemistry
- Immunohematology/Transfusion Medicine
- Microbiology, Urine and Body Fluid Analysis
- Laboratory Operations
- Other Emerging Diagnostics,
The medical laboratory scientist will have diverse responsibilities in areas of analysis and clinical decision‐making, regulatory compliance with applicable regulations, education, and quality assurance/performance improvement wherever laboratory testing is researched, developed or performed. Additionally, qualified medical laboratory scientists will play a role in the development and evaluation of test systems and interpretive algorithms.
At the entry-level, the medical laboratory scientist will have the following basic knowledge and skills in:
- Application of safety and governmental regulations and standards as applied to clinical laboratory science;
- Principles and practices of professional conduct and the significance of continuing professional development;
- Communications sufficient to serve the needs of patients, the public and members of the health care team;
- Principles and practices of administration and supervision as applied to clinical laboratory science;
- Educational methodologies and terminology sufficient to train/educate users and providers of laboratory services;
- Principles and practices of clinical study design, implementation and dissemination of results.
Description of this Program at West Liberty University
William C. Wagener, M.S., Ph.D., MT (ASCP), Professor, West Liberty University, Program Director, Medical Laboratory Science Program
Bonnie Porter, BS, MT (ASCP), Lecturer in MLS, West Liberty University, Medical Laboratory Science Program.
The Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) Program at WLU is a 2+2 program. The freshman and sophomore years are devoted to studying basic science and general study courses. Near the completion of the sophomore year, students may apply for admission into the MLS Program. The faculty may schedule an interview with a potential student, or the student may request an interview. After consideration of course grades and faculty recommendations, the candidate is offered acceptance into the program beginning in August of the next academic year.
Progression through the program is contingent upon the student passing all required coursework in general studies and clinical laboratory science, and successfully completing the clinical practicum (or rotations) at our clinical affiliates which include:
- Ohio Valley Medical Center (OVMC, W.Va.), East Ohio Regional Hospital (EORH, Oh.)
- Reynolds Memorial Hospital (W.Va.)
- Wheeling Hospital (W.Va.)
- Wetzel County Hospital (W.Va.)
- Weirton Medical Center (W.Va.)
- Ohio Valley Hospital (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Students will typically rotate at more than one affiliate in different sections. The placement schedule at each affiliate is determined by the Clinical Coordinator with consultation with the affiliate contact designee and the Program Director. If either WLU or an affiliate wishes to end their affiliation, senior students who will be beginning their rotation in the fall term and are scheduled for a rotation at that hospital will be placed at one of the other affiliated hospitals after consultation with the Clinical Coordinator, Program Director, and the hospital laboratory manager.
Minimum standards for passing individual courses are outlined in each course syllabus, which includes the course goals and objectives, schedule of lectures and/or laboratories, and expected competencies. Your instructors will review each course syllabus with you during the first week of classes. A schedule of student evaluation tools is also included on the syllabi and include the use of examinations for didactic work and practical examinations for laboratories or other assignments as stated. In addition, students are evaluated based on the affective domain behavioral objectives (see below).
Successful progression through the Program depends upon meeting the minimum standards for passing each course as outlined in each course syllabus. Minimum standards for successful passage of the clinical rotation courses are detailed in the Senior Handbook that each student receives upon entering the rotation. Upon successful completion of all course requirements, as outlined in the University Catalog, students are awarded the BS degree in Medical Laboratory Science. After graduation students may sit for the MLS certification examination given by the Board of Certification (BOC) of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP). Taking the exam is strongly recommended, however, graduation is not contingent on passage of this exam.
The Medical Laboratory Science Program at WLU is nationally accredited through the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS, 5600 N. River Rd., Suite 720, Rosemont, IL., 60018-5119, 773-714-8880)
Mission Statement of the Program
The Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) program at WLU strives to educate and train students to become competent, career-entry level Medical Laboratory Scientists and Medical Lab Technicians.
Goals of the Program
- To provide a contemporary and comprehensive nationally accredited curriculum that provides the students with a solid knowledge base in the field of laboratory science.
- To provide students with the clinical and didactic training required to be effective workers, both technically and as problem solvers.
- To provide an environment that promotes and encourages professional development and ethics.
- To instill in the students an appreciation of the role of a MLS as part of the health care team.
Expected Affective Domain Behavioral Objectives
Affective Domain Objectives: Characteristics needed by a MLS professional.
- Dependability. The student attends every class. Rare, unavoidable absences are called or e-mailed to the instructor in advance. The student arrives, leaves and hands in assignments on time. The student follows through on commitments.
- Communication Skills. The student displays appropriate nonverbal and verbal communication. The student uses effective written communication.
- Organization Skills. The student manifests skill in prioritizing work under time constraints. The student keeps an orderly notebook. The student keeps an orderly work area. The student follows written and verbal directions.
- Safety Awareness. The student follows established safety rules.
- Teamwork. The student cooperates with others to reach group goals. The student deals with conflict in a professional manner.
- Character. In hypothetical and real situations, the student uses independent judgment to make decisions based on moral and ethical implications. The student shows respect for others regardless of culture/religion/race/sex.
- Positive Attitude. The student displays initiative. The student seeks help when needed, accepts constructive criticism and attempts to improve professional skills. The student stays alert, gives the task at hand his/her full attention and participates in class.
Essential Functions (Technical Standards)
Essential functions are important technical requirements that are critical for completion of the MLS Program and employment in the field. These are provided to you before entering the Program so you may understand the technical skills necessary for success. Please review these standards and confirm that you can meet them. Failure to meet one or more of the standards does not necessarily exclude you from entering the Program. If you are not able to meet one or more of the standards, you must schedule an appointment with the Program Director to discuss the issue.
The essential Functions: the student must be able to:
- Read and write English
- Manipulate a microscope
- Physically adjust the instrument properly
- Possess visual acuity to locate specimens of a slide
- Discriminate between colors on special stains
- Stand or sit for prolonged periods of time
- Communicate effectively with peers, other health care professionals
- Exhibit manual dexterity to perform phlebotomy (venipuncture), slide preparation, and culture isolation techniques
- Manipulate automatic pipetting devices and other standard laboratory glassware and equipment
- Accurately transcribe information from computer generated or other written forms to other formats
- Transport low to medium weight objects from one point to another
- Bend, stretch, reach, or stoop within reason to obtain materials or to operate equipment
Student Learning Outcomes (SLO)
SLO’s are statements of what we want a student to be able to do upon graduation. Progress in meeting these is part of the Program and University Assessment Program. Program specific tools are used. The results of these evaluations do not affect course grades but are used for assessing Program and University effectiveness. The following are the University approved MLS student learning outcomes:
1. Upon completion of the MLS Program, students will demonstrate diagnostic critical thinking and writing skills in evaluation and oral presentation of clinical laboratory test results.
Student learning outcomes:
- Students will demonstrate skill in interpreting laboratory data to suggest a presumptive diagnosis and additional confirmatory laboratory tests.
- CLS 470. MLS case studies rubric.
- MLS students will satisfactorily evaluate a published scientific paper using a rubric for journal article.
- CLS 490, MLS journal article rubric
2. Upon completion of the MLS Program, students will demonstrate entry-level competency to enter the workforce.
Student learning outcomes:
- Senior MLS students will demonstrate retention of basic knowledge by successfully passing a final comprehensive examination with a minimum score of 60%.
- CLS 400 comprehensive exam.
- Senior students will demonstrate basic understanding of the administrative aspects of laboratory management via completion of a TQM (total quality management) project
- CLS 420, WLU writing rubric
The Program tracks several outcome measures including graduation rate, attrition rate, job placement rate, and pass rate on the national certification exam given by the Board of Certification (BOC) of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists. All graduates of the MLS Program at WLU find employment in the field, often jobs are offered before graduation. Some have continued to graduate or professional school as well. Most graduates pass the Board of Certification examination and score as well as or higher than the national average overall and in sub-content areas.