What Interested Students Should Know
If you are thinking about a career in Medical Laboratory Science, you need to come to college prepared to succeed. You should take as much math as you can in high school, as well as biology and chemistry. One bonus: if you score 24 or higher on your ACT mathematics portion, you won't have to take math at Ferris after you get here! If you have successfully completed a high school chemistry course, you won't have to take introductory chemistry (CHEM 103) here.
In the MLT program, you will spend the first year completing the general education courses that you need to succeed. Then the professional phase begins in the summer term between year one and year two. You will take professional courses that summer, as well as fall semester and the first half of the spring semester. You will be at your internship site for the rest of spring semester and part of your second summer term.
In the Medical Laboratory Science program, you spend two years taking general education courses. Then your professional phase begins in the summer term between years two and three. You take professional courses that summer term, then in the fall, the spring and the following fall semester. The spring semester of year four will be your internship.
You will be required to purchase a specific type of laboratory coat and safety glasses for your professional courses at Ferris. They are sold at the campus bookstore, and each costs less than $10. You will need a new lab coat each term. The only other materials you will need to purchase (beyond books and course manuals) are a BLACK indelible marker (such as Sharpie) and a good calculator.
You should also know that before your internship, you will be required to complete a criminal background check at your own expense. If you have a criminal history, this may mean that you won't be able to complete an internship, and then you won't graduate.
You will also have to provide proof of hepatitis B vaccination (or sign a waiver), influenza vaccine, and proof of a negative test for TB within one year of your internship. A few internship sites require additional vaccinations. A student-intern may also need to be nicotine-free.
Salary and Employment Information
About 70% of graduates of Clinical Laboratory Science programs work in hospital laboratories. Others, find jobs in private laboratories, blood donor centers, public health labs, physician office labs, and other sites. And the jobs are out there: The vacancy rate nationwide for medical laboratory positions was as high as 15% in 2014. A national study estimates that there will be about 9000 laboratory jobs nationwide for the next decade, while about 5000 students will graduate from laboratory science programs.
A study published in 2013 by the American Society for Clinical Pathology reveals that the national median salary for medical laboratory scientists is $56,600. Supervisors/Managers have a median salary of $68265.
Medical Laboratory Technicians had a median salary of $42619 in 2013. Phlebotomists average $32448 for full time employment. As vacancies increase, salaries are rising as well.
You WILL find a job, and you WILL be well paid!
What Our Graduates Do
Medical laboratory professionals perform and evaluate clinical laboratory tests that help physicians and other health care providers detect, diagnose and treat disease. Think of yourself as a detective, helping to solve medical mysteries!
As a skilled scientist, you perform tests behind the scenes. For example, you will perform tests to diagnose diabetes, detect leukemia (and which TYPE of leukemia), identify the microorganisms that are infecting a patient, type and crossmatch blood for patients that need transfusion, and help infertile couples by monitoring hormone levels. You will also measure levels of therapeutic drugs; it's important that the patient have a high enough blood level of the drug to get the benefit, but not such a high level that toxicity results. In addition, medical technologists perform an increasing variety of molecular diagnostic tests to diagnose disease. You may even identify toxic agents such as anthrax or nerve gas from a terrorist attack!
But performing tests isn't all medical laboratory professionals do. They also supervise and manage laboratories and their personnel, evaluate test results, and communicate with other health care providers. As a medical laboratory professional, you may work in all areas of the laboratory, or specialize in one or two, becoming a supervisor or an educator.
Medical Laboratory Technicians perform the routine testing that makes up the majority of laboratory test orders. You will detect analytes in whole blood, serum or plasma, cerebrospinal fluid, urine, or just about any other body fluid. You will evaluate your results before reporting them. If and when problems are detected, you will need to work with medical technologists to resolve the problems.
Medical Laboratory Technicians also work in most areas of the laboratory: clinical chemistry, hematology, body fluid analysis, coagulation, and microbiology and transfusion service.
Phlebotomists collect, transport and process the majority of samples used in laboratory testing. You will collect samples, label them correctly, transport them to the laboratory, and then perform some processing, such as centrifuging the samples to separate serum or plasma from the blood cells. In some laboratories, you may perform some simple testing, such as testing urine for chemical substances.
Phlebotomists are the laboratory personnel that most patients see. You are the representative of the laboratory to the general public, so it's important that phlebotomists dress professionally, and demonstrate a caring attitude.