What is Medical Laboratory Science?

What is Medical Laboratory Science?

Medical Laboratory Science is a professional field in health care that is responsible for providing quality laboratory results that can be used in the diagnosis, treatment, monitoring, and prevention of disease.  

There are many levels of practice in laboratory science requiring a variety of educational and experiential backgrounds ranging from high school through a doctorate degree. Two common entry-level professional categories include medical laboratory technicians (MLT) and medical laboratory scientists (MLS).

Medical laboratory technicians (MLTs) typically hold an Associate’s degree, while medical laboratory scientists (MLSs) typically hold a Bachelor’s degree. Both roles are competent in collecting, processing, and testing samples of biologic origin from patients, but the MLS curriculum generally includes a more extensive background on medical laboratory theory, pathophysiology, and quality management, which allows an MLS to interpret results, integrate laboratory data with clinical conditions, conduct research, and facilitate new test development in addition to routine analysis of laboratory specimens.

The field of medical laboratory science is comprised of many disciplines, including clinical chemistry, medical microbiology, hematology, hemostasis, immunology, blood banking, molecular diagnostics and others. Medical laboratory professionals also work in a variety of settings such as hospital laboratories, public health laboratories, reference laboratories, industry and sales, education, quality management, and more! For more information on levels of practice, career paths, and disciplines within laboratory science, visit https://ascls.org/how-do-i-become-a-laboratory-professional/ or www.laboratorysciencecareers.com.

For those interested in pursuing an education in these fields, the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS) is the accrediting body for medical laboratory programs. For a complete list of NAACLS accredited programs relating to medical laboratory technician, medical laboratory science, or other laboratory programs in Georgia, visit https://www.naacls.org/Find-a-Program.aspx.