A Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) provides exciting opportunities for individuals with an interest in science who wish to pursue a career as a Medical Laboratory Scientist. An MLS education also provides excellent preparation for medical and graduate schools or employment opportunities outside of a typical hospital setting. MLS graduates have gone on to medical school; law school; and physician assistant, pathologist assistant, and public health programs. Diverse job opportunities include employment in medical laboratories, research laboratories, forensic science laboratories, veterinary laboratories, fertility centers, higher education, healthcare information technology, and consulting. In the past three years, 100% of UIS MLS graduates have found employment in the field/closely related field or have pursued further education within one year of graduation.
Medical Laboratory Scientists play an integral role in the interdisciplinary spectrum of healthcare by: performing and interpreting a wide array of testing; investigating and correcting incidences of patient misidentification; researching and developing evidence-based testing algorithms; selecting and implementing new testing platforms; and validating, maintaining, and troubleshooting analytical instrumentation. Medical Laboratory Scientists serve as a valuable resource for the diverse healthcare workforce by providing guidance in the collection, selection, and interpretation of laboratory testing. Medical laboratory professionals must evolve continuously in the unpredictable and innovative healthcare atmosphere; carrying on rigorous continuing education programs throughout their careers.
Medical Laboratory Science has experienced several nomenclature changes throughout the history of the profession; beginning with Medical Technology (MT), then on to Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS), and finally, an amalgamation of the two, Medical Laboratory Science (MLS). For this reason, the professional laboratory environment is occupied by a workforce exhibiting all three certification terminologies (i.e. MT, CLS, MLS); though, each reflects the same level of laboratory education. To appropriately reflect current professional certification nomenclature, the Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) Program at UIS recently changed its name from Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS).
The UIS MLS Program is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS), 5600 N. River Rd., Suite 720, Rosemont, IL 60018 (773) 714-8880. The MLS program’s current full ten-year accreditation is the result of two consecutive accreditation cycles with no deficiencies.
Upon completion of a NAACLS approved laboratory education route, an individual may sit for the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Certification (BOC) MLS professional certification examination. Graduates of the MLS Program at UIS are eligible to sit for the ASCP BOC examination via Route 1.
The MLS major consists of two distinct academic phases: the pre-professional phase and the professional phase. During the pre-professional phase, the first two years of the four-year major, students complete UIS general education requirements and MLS prerequisites. During the professional phase, the final two years of the four-year major, students complete the MLS core courses and obtain clinical experience during practicum courses. The professional phase is the NAACLS-accredited Medical Laboratory Science program. All students must complete a secondary admissions process and be accepted by the MLS Program before they may begin the professional phase. See the MLS website for application information.
According to NAACLS curriculum requirements, the UIS MLS Program includes didactic and laboratory coverage of: Clinical Chemistry, Hematology, Hemostasis, Immunology, Immunohematology, Microbiology, Urine and Body Fluid Analysis, and Laboratory Operations. Due to content distribution and complexity, Clinical Chemistry, Hematology, Immunohematology, and Microbiology are considered major content areas while Hemostasis, Immunology, Urine and Body Fluid Analysis, and Laboratory Operations are considered minor content areas. Additional MLS Program content areas not required by NAACLS but relevant and necessary for professional preparation include: Phlebotomy, Molecular Diagnostics, Education, and Management.
During the first year of the professional phase, students complete on-campus didactic and laboratory coursework. After successful completion of all first-year coursework, students rotate through clinical practicum courses in each of the four major content areas. Additionally, students complete a Special Topics practicum course in which they experience minor or highly specialized laboratory areas. Over the course of an academic year, students rotate through two separate clinical affiliate sites; completing two major practicum content areas per site. This allows students the opportunity to see a variety of laboratory and healthcare environments; serve diverse patient populations; and utilize several computer platforms. See the MLS Student Handbook for a current list of clinical affiliates. The program concludes with a two-part research and exam preparation capstone course series. Students must successfully pass a comprehensive closure exam to graduate from the MLS Program.
As required by the program’s clinical affiliates, prior to clinical practicum courses, all MLS students are required to submit to a background check and drug testing results. In the event that a student’s record includes a felony conviction, the program may not be able to secure clinical practicum spots. If clinical practicum spots are obtained, the student may not be able to be employed in healthcare.
MLS majors with a cumulative GPA equal to or greater than 3.25 in the MLS Program and one semester in residency at UIS may elect to participate in the MLS honors option. In addition to the MLS Program requirements, honors students must:
- maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25
- earn a minimum grade of B- for each course in the MLS Program
- successfully complete three credits of MLS 400
- present their findings in a formal paper and public presentation
Students must apply for participation in the honors program to the MLS Program Director and ALH Chair and obtain approval of a faculty research advisor prior to their final semester. This is not connected with the CAP Honors Program. Details can be found in the MLS Student Handbook.