Medical Laboratory Science

Medical laboratory science professionals (also called clinical laboratory scientists or clinical laboratory technicians) are highly skilled scientists who discover the presence or absence of disease and provide data that help physicians and other care providers determine the best treatment for the patient.

Although they are not often personally involved with patients, medical laboratory scientists and technicians play a crucial role in the process of providing personalized care. They generate vitally important data for identifying and treating cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many other health conditions.

Using sophisticated biomedical instrumentation and technology, as well as highly skilled manual techniques, medical laboratory professionals:

  • Examine and analyze body fluids, tissues and cells
  • Identify infective microorganisms
  • Analyze the chemical constituents of body fluids
  • Identify blood-clotting abnormalities
  • Cross-match donor blood for transfusions
  • Test blood for drug levels to measure the efficacy of particular treatments
  • Evaluate test results for accuracy and help interpret them for care providers

Medical laboratory technicians and clinical laboratory technicians have associate degrees, while medical laboratory scientists have baccalaureate degrees. Although some of the laboratory work performed by these professionals is the same, laboratory technicians focus on collecting, processing and analyzing biological specimens; performing laboratory procedures; maintaining instruments; and relating findings to common diseases or conditions.

Medical laboratory scientists perform these same tasks, but because they have a more extensive theoretical knowledge base, they conduct more advanced testing, such as molecular diagnostics and highly involved microbiological testing and cross-matching blood for transfusion. They also evaluate and interpret laboratory results, integrate data, solve problems, consult with physicians, conduct research and evaluate new test methods. Medical laboratory scientists also are more likely to advance to management positions.” (Explore Health Careers)

Curriculum (pdf)