Medical Laboratory Science
What is Medical Laboratory Science?
Medical Laboratory Scientists (also known as Medical Technologists) are highly skilled laboratory scientists who perform and evaluate laboratory procedures using a variety of sophisticated instruments. They perform, supervise and provide consultation for laboratory analyses on blood and various body fluids to obtain data on which a diagnosis is made and appropriate therapy initiated. The major disciplines in laboratory science are:
- Immunohematology (blood banking)
- Clinical Chemistry
An individual may specialize in one of these disciplines or remain a generalist, depending on the type of laboratory and the needs of the facility in which they are employed. A career in medical laboratory science provides opportunities for work that are both personally rewarding and challenging.
As cost consciousness in health care delivery has increased, Medical Laboratory Scientists have become increasingly valuable to the health care system. This is because Medical Laboratory Scientists are knowledgeable about cost effective ways to deliver quality care and are trained to make the kinds of decisions that make effective lab services possible. Medical Laboratory Scientists assume positions of increasing responsibility in clinical laboratories and within institution management structure. Their functions include managing the laboratory and directing the work of others performing complex laboratory analyses and making judgments about the quality of laboratory results before they are reported. Medical Laboratory Scientists must be experts in clinical laboratory science as well as in the administrative and managerial functions necessary to ensure the effective operation of clinical laboratory services.
What Are the Educational Requirements?
Minimum requirements for becoming a medical laboratory scientist includes satisfactory completion of two years of pre-professional college work, including certain prescribed courses. Students may then be admitted to a two-year professional program approved the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). High school students can prepare for a career in medical technology by taking courses in physical and biological sciences, along with other college preparatory courses.
What Are the Personal Qualifications?
Medical Laboratory Scientists...
- are fascinated by science
- are problem solvers
- like challenge and responsibility
- are accurate and reliable
- enjoy a fast-paced environment
- communicate well
- set high standards for themselves
- want to help others
Career opportunities are numerous in...
- Hospital and private laboratories
- Biotechnology industry
- Research and forensic laboratories
- Public Health
- Sales and lab product development
- Higher education
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Armed forces
- Molecular Diagnostics
Licensure and Certification
Graduates of programs in Medical Laboratory Science approved by (NAACLS) are eligible to take certification examinations given by several certifying agencies. Individuals certified by the Board of Registry of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) are recognized as professional Medical Laboratory Scientists by the designation MLS after their names. Those certified by American Medical Technologists are designated Medical Technologists (MT).
A Tennessee state license is required to practice medical laboratory in Tennessee. In order to obtain a Tennessee state license, one must provide evidence of having passed a national certification examination.
To obtain more information on obtaining a Tennessee state license for medical laboratory science, write or call:
Tennessee State Department of Health
Medical Laboratory Board
227 French Landing, Suite 300
Heritage Place MetroCenter
Nashville, TN 37243
Department of Clinical Lab Sciences
930 Madison - Suite 664
Memphis, Tennessee 38163