Medical laboratory science (MLS) is the area of healthcare that contributes to patient care through analyzing blood and body fluid samples. Medical laboratory scientists perform tests on patient samples to help physicians diagnose, treat, and determine the prognosis of patients through computer and instrument driven technology as well as manual methods. According to Rodney Forsman of the Mayo Clinic, up to 70% of physicians' decisions in diagnosis, treatment, admission, and discharge of patients are based from the data provided by medical laboratory scientists. Medical laboratory scientists may specialize and only work in one department of the hospital laboratory or become a generalist and work in multiple departments.
Other Areas Medical Laboratory Scientists Can Work
Outside of the diagnostic laboratory, medical laboratory scientists may work in the following areas:
Vanderbilt University Hospital sponsors the Allied Health Program of Medical Laboratory Science, which operates within the Department of Pathology and the Diagnostic Laboratories. Medical laboratory scientists, or medical technologists, are trained in all major clinical pathology areas including Clinical Chemistry, Hematology, Hemostasis and Thrombosis, Immunopathology, Immunohematology, Microbiology, Urinalysis & Body Fluids, Molecular Diagnostics and Management/Supervisory skills. Training includes both didactic and practical experiences.
Laboratory & classroom space is located in the School of Medicine and additional space is assigned throughout the Diagnostic Labs for student use. There is also space within the Vanderbilt Clinic that is designated as the Medical Laboratory Science office and library. The Program officials include a Medical Director, Program Director/Education Supervisor and faculty from each area of the laboratory who are experts in their respective fields.
Classes begin in early June and continue until the end of June the following year. Orientation is held during the first week of class and provides an opportunity for students to become acquainted with fellow students and faculty members. Course work during this week consists of an introduction and review of basic laboratory operations and skills.
Students are required to be present on a full time basis throughout the year of training. Most classes in the first six months run from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday -Friday. Clinical rotation hours will vary according to the individual laboratory sections.
Upon satisfactory completion of the training program a certificate of completion is awarded to the student. The course of study during the clinical year may be credited towards a baccalaureate degree where an affiliation between the student's college or university and the Medical Center exists. In the situation where an affiliation does not exist, credit may be negotiated.
Students completing the year of training are eligible for the national certification by examination through agencies such as the American Society of Clinical Pathologist Board of Certification (BOC). Upon receipt of national certification, the graduate becomes eligible for state licensure by the Tennessee Department of Health and Environment.
The program of Medical Laboratory Science is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) which serves as a peer review committee. The program is also licensed by the State of Tennessee as required by the Tennessee Laboratory Act and is approved to operate by the Tennessee Department of Health and Environment.