A medical laboratory scientist (MLS) (also referred to as a medical technologist, a clinical scientist, or clinical laboratory technologist) is a healthcare professional who performs chemical, hematological, immunologic, microscopic, and bacteriological diagnostic analyses on body fluids such as blood, urine, sputum, stool, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), peritoneal fluid, pericardial fluid, and synovial fluid, as well as other specimens. Medical laboratory scientists work in clinical laboratories as well as hospitals, physician’s offices, reference labs, biotechnology labs and non-clinical industrial labs.
In the United States, a medical laboratory scientist (MLS), medical technologist (MT) or clinical laboratory scientist (CLS, California only) typically earns a bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory science, biomedical science, medical technology or in a life / biological science (biology, biochemistry, microbiology, etc.), in which case certification from an accredited training program is also required. Medical technologists who are certified and in good standing by a number of certification bodies, including the National Medical Laboratory Science Council or the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) are entitled to use the credential “MLS” after their names.
Subspecialties also requiring a four-year degree include cytotechnologists, who study cells and cellular anomalies, and histotechnologists, who work on the detection of tissue abnormalities and the treatment for the diseases causing the abnormalities.
In addition, there are also medical laboratory technicians (MLTs) who earn two-year degrees plus certification.
In the United States, the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA ’88) define the level of qualification required to perform tests of various complexity. Clinical laboratory scientists, medical technologists and medical laboratory scientists are the highest level of qualification, and are generally qualified to perform the most complex clinical testing including HLA testing (also known as tissue typing) and blood type reference testing.
Most medical technologists are generalists, skilled in all areas of the clinical laboratory. However some are specialists, qualified by unique undergraduate education or additional training to perform more complex analyses than usual within a specific field. Specialties include clinical biochemistry, hematology, coagulation, microbiology, bacteriology, toxicology, virology, parasitology, mycology, immunology, immunohematology (blood bank), histopathology, histocompatibility, cytopathology, genetics, cytogenetics, electron microscopy, and IVF labs.
Medical technologists with such a specialty may use additional credentials, such as “SBB” (Specialist in Blood Banking) from the American Association of Blood Banks, or “SH” (Specialist in Hematology) from the ASCP.
In the United States, Medical Laboratory Scientists can be certified and employed in infection control. These professionals monitor and report infectious disease findings to help limit iatrogenic and nosocomial infections. They may also educate other healthcare workers about such problems and ways to minimize them.
ARUP Laboratories and University of Utah Create MT Training Center
CEO SUMMARY: To help resolve the ongoing shortage of MTs and MLSs, ARUP Laboratories and the University of Utah’s Medical Laboratory Sciences Division took a novel approach to secure funding for a new laboratory scientist training center. They worked with their congressional repre…
Two Positive Messages to Focus on at Year’s End
Clinical laboratory managers and anatomic pathologists are winding down another tumultuous year for the healthcare industry. It was a year marked by unexpected twists and turns. It was also a year marked by two positive developments for labs. First, the…
2022’s Top 10 Lab Stories Confirm Challenging Times
CEO SUMMARY: There are valuable insights to be gleaned from The Dark Report’s “Top 10 Lab Industry Stories for 2022.” Several of this year’s story picks involve external forces reshaping healthcare in the United States in profound ways. Other story picks for 2022 illustrate …
Getting the Jump on Solving Major Lab Issues
Observant laboratory managers and pathologists will note a recurring theme among the business intelligence briefings in this issue of The Dark Report: Solutions to major challenges require proactive steps. A case in point comes…
Insights and Advice about the Lab Staffing Crisis
CEO SUMMARY: For the past decade, it’s been recognized that the supply of skilled laboratory professionals is inadequate to meet the needs of the nation’s clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups. Leadership at American Medical Technologists recommends steps that labs…
Solutions to Lab Staffing, Supply, Revenue Problems
CEO SUMMARY: Responding to requests from numerous lab managers, The Dark Report is organizing a one-and-a-half-day program that will come to your city. Workshop leaders are from labs su…
Labs Face Powerful and Unwelcome Forces
OVER THE PAST 25 YEARS, THERE HAS BEEN WIDESPREAD RECOGNITION THAT HEALTHCARE IN THE UNITED STATES is on an unsustainable path. The obvious argument was that year-over-year increases in healthcare costs would eventually overcome the ability of employers (private health plans) and the government (Medi…
Halfway Through 2022, More Changes Come at Labs
APPROACHING THE MIDWAY MARK OF 2022, some clinical laboratory directors and pathologists might feel like they’ve already experienced enough changes to last the whole year. For example, since the start of 2022, we’ve seen SARS-CoV-2 testing surges co…
‘Lab Workforce Crisis Takes Top Spot’–CAP Today
CEO SUMMARY: Just weeks ago, CAP Today characterized the current crisis in staffing clinical laboratories as going “from simmer to rolling boil.” Demand for medical technologists and other certified laboratory scientists far exceeds the supply. Consequently, many labs now…
Fla. Lab Sells to Labcorp, But Keeps Nursing Homes
CEO SUMMARY: Vista Clinical Diagnostics of Clermont, Fla., is betting big on the nursing home sector just when many labs serving nursing homes are worried about steep Medicare cuts coming Jan. 1. After selling its physician office referral testing, 35 patient service centers, and a mobile…
How Much Laboratory Business Intelligence Have You Missed?
Lab leaders rely on THE DARK REPORT for actionable intelligence on important developments in the business of laboratory testing. Maximize the money you make-and the money you keep! Best of all, it is released every three weeks!
Sign up for TDR Insider
Join the Dark Intelligence Group FREE and get TDR Insider FREE!
Never miss a single update on the issues that matter to you and your business.