Frequently Asked Questions

What is a "clinical laboratory scientist" or "medical laboratory scientist?

A clinical laboratory scientist is an individual who performs and evaluates laboratory tests using a variety of methods. A lot of the testing is done using sophisticated computerized instruments. The results of these tests provide the information needed to diagnose disease or monitor treatment. It has been estimated that as much as 60-70% of the information used to diagnose and treat patients comes from the clinical laboratory. Some examples of professional duties include:

-identify abnormal blood cells
-culture and identify bacteria and viruses
-assure safe transfusion of blood products
-correlate test results with patient condition
-select and evaluate laboratory equipment and new test methodologies
-monitor the quality of testing
-supervise support staff
-manage laboratory operations

What is the difference between clinical laboratory scientists and medical laboratory scientist?

For a while, professionals were known as clinical laboratory scientist, but more recently the name was changed to medical laboratory scientists which gives a more accurate description of our role.

Where do medical laboratory scientists work?

Most medical laboratory scientists begin their professional careers working in a laboratory in an acute care or community hospital. However, job opportunities also exist in physician offices, public health laboratories, reference laboratories, research laboratories, and forensic laboratories.

Opportunities for employment also exist in industry. In this type of setting, a medical laboratory scientist may be involved in research and development for the production of pharmaceuticals, reagents, or other biologicals. They may also participate in quality control of reagents or biologicals and sales and services of laboratory instruments and supplies. Some med laboratory scientists serve as clinical trial coordinators.

Governmental agencies at the federal, state, and local level also seek the services of medical laboratory scientists. Graduates are eligible to apply for direct commissions in the military (US Army, US Air Force, and US Navy) as Laboratory Officers.

Who should consider this profession?

This profession is appropriate for someone with a strong interest in science who wants a health career with minimal patient contact. You should enjoy "hands on" laboratory work. You should be a team player who is self motivated and works well under pressure. Additionally, one should have good manual dexterity, good attention to detail and like to do accurate and precise work.

What type of education is needed to enter this profession?

Individuals may become a medical laboratory technician (MLT) by completing a two year program in a community college or in the armed forces. MLT's work in hospital laboratories or physician offices, but have limited opportunities for advancement into supervisory positions.

In order to become a clinical laboratory scientist or medical laboratory scientist, one must complete a BS degree which includes specific basic science pre-requisites as well as professional courses. Accredited BS programs typically include four semesters of chemistry including general and organic chemistry and three or four semesters of biology which includes anatomy and physiology and microbiology. The professional curriculum includes courses in hematology, immunology, clinical chemistry, microbiology, and transfusion services as well as time spent in a clinical setting using the knowledge and skills learned in the class room.

What are the requirements for admission to the program at ECU?

Applicants must complete 4 semesters of chemistry and 3 semesters of biology with a gpa of 2.0 or better. They must also have college algebra, statistics, general psychology, and satisfy the ECU general education requirements . They must have an overall gpa of 2.0 or greater. For more specific information see the four year course sequence.

When do I apply for admission to the program at ECU?

Applications are distributed in the Fall for admission the following Fall. The deadline for applications is Feb 1 prior to August enrollment. Admission decisions are made prior to early registration in late March. If an adequate number of qualified applicants is not available, the application deadline may be extended.

What are my chances of being selected for admission?

The department usually processes 20-30 applications per entering junior class for 16 available seats.  Our selection criteria include science gpa, personal interview, number of credit hours at ECU, and previous professional experience. Students with a strong science gpa have the best chance of being selected.

What are my chances of getting a job when I graduate?

Excellent, particularly in larger cities.  Vacancy rates of 10% or more are reported by hospitals for CLS graduates.  This need for medical laboratory scientists comes at a time when many older medical laboratory scientists are retiring and the number of educational programs training new medical laboratory scientists has dropped to less than half of what it was 20 years ago. Thus opportunities for new graduates are excellent.

What can I expect to earn?

See this website.

Are night or weekend courses available?

Though night or weekend CLSC courses are not currently available, CLSC 3430 Clinical Immunology can be taken as a distance education course upon request to the CLSC Department. A distance learning option, the MLT to MLS plan, is available to associate degree CLT/MLT graduates who meet specific certification and experience requirements (see MLT to MLS section of the CLSC webpage).

I am already certified as an MLT. What additional courses will I need to become an MLS?

See MLT to MLS Plan.

What are graduate and professional school opportunities available to me in this profession?

With a B.S. in Clinical Laboratory Science, you can pursue a multitude of options for additional education. The CLSC curriculum meets requirements to apply to medical or dental school. Some graduates of the program have gone on to medical school and performed very well due to their background in pathophysiology and clinical diagnosis that they obtained in the Clinical Laboratory Science program. If you are interested in pursuing advancement as a clinical laboratory or health services administrator, you can enter a MBA program or graduate program in Health Services Administration. Graduate work in a field of public health is also an option for those who wish to advance in this arena. For those who wish to become a researcher, you are prepared to enter a doctoral program in the biological, biomedical, and chemical sciences. A B.S. in Clinical Laboratory Sciences is one of the recommended majors for applying to a master's program in Physician Assistant.

For academic advisement of pre-professional phase students, please speak with Anthony Coutouzis,, Academic Advisor, Center for Enrichment and Allied Health in 2405 Old Cafeteria Building on the ECU campus.


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