What is Medical Laboratory Science?
Medical Laboratory Scientists are important health care providers that perform laboratory analyses used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and maintenance of health. Because of the demands of this career, Medical Laboratory Scientists receive extensive education and training using biomedical analyses and complex instrumentation. Medical Laboratory Scientists typically receive their degrees in Microbiology, Biology or Biochemistry.

 

Is this the career for me?
Is “science” considered one of your strengths? Have you thought about going into the medical field, but didn’t think nursing or medical school was for you? Are you looking for a career that is exciting, rewarding, and always evolving? Medical Laboratory Science is a multi-dimensional field that requires a sharp mind, willingness to help others, and continuous learning. While most Medical Laboratory Scientists work in hospital laboratories, many are employed in clinics, physician offices, commercial laboratories, research facilities, veterinary clinics, public health facilities, criminology/forensic laboratories, the armed forces, clinical research labs and the Peace Corps.

 

Medical Laboratory Scientists are trained in four main areas of a medical laboratory:

Microbiology
Bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi are isolated from patient specimens and identified.

Blood Banking (Immunohematology)
Compatible blood products are identified for patients needing transfusion of blood, platelets or plasma.

Clinical Chemistry
Blood serum, plasma and body fluids are analyzed using complex instrumentation for metabolites such as cholesterol, glucose, and electrolytes.

Hematology
Whole blood and body fluids are analyzed using complex instrumentation and examined microscopically for abnormal cells and diseases of the blood.

 

What is the Montana Medical Lab Science Program?

The Montana Medical Laboratory Science (MMLS) Professional program was developed in 2008 as the result of Workforce Development funds becoming available through the Montana State Legislature. In addition to the grant from the state, many Montana hospitals also contributed money, equipment, and time to help make the program possible. The program has helped to alleviate the critical need for medical laboratory scientists in the state of Montana, especially in rural communities. The program accepts students from MSU, University of Montana, and Montana State University-Billings. The program is also accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS).

Key Aspects of the MMLS Program:

  • The program accepts 19 students each year.
  • Students train during the summer at MSU and then move to one of eight hospitals for two semesters of clinical laboratory rotations.
  • The program requires tuition and lab fees and students receive 37 credits over three semesters.
  • Students participate in a two week rural rotation near the end of their clinical training.
  • Students can complete their education and training in four years, becoming eligible to sit for a national certification exam.  Once certified, students can become licensed Medical Laboratory Scientists and work in clinical laboratories throughout Montana.
  • The fully accredited program has already helped to alleviate a critical healthcare workforce need in Montana.
  • From the inception of the program we have had a 100% graduation rate, national certification pass rate and also employment rate.
  • Our students score 30-40 points above the average for University Based Programs on the ASCP Board of Certification (B.O.C) exam.

 

How long does this program take?

In the 3+1 (Plan A Option) Students can be career ready in 4 years.

  • MSU students enroll in the Medical Laboratory Science option in the Microbiology Department
  • UM students enroll in the Medical Technology option in the Division of Biological Science
  • MSU- Billings Students enroll in the Medical Laboratory Science option in the Biological and Physical Sciences Department

If accepted into the MMLS Professional Program the fourth year consists of a year-long clinical training program which includes a summer semester at MSU-Bozeman and two semesters in a Montana hospital. At the satisfactory conclusion of their clinical year, students will receive their diploma as well as a certificate of completion.

4+1 (Plan B Option)

Students can also apply for acceptance to the MMLS program after they have received a degree as long as prerequisite preparatory course has been obtained (see next box).

Students with degrees also have the option of attending clinical training in other accredited programs across the nation.

At the successful completion of the MMLS Professional Program students are eligible to take a national registry exam to become a certified Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) which qualifies them to obtain a license and work in Montana laboratories or other clinical laboratories in the nation. There is a very high demand for new Medical Laboratory Scientists in Montana and elsewhere so this career provides many employment opportunities in a large range of settings.

 

What kind of Prerequisites are Required for Training Programs?

Typical courses required by internship programs:

  • At least 4 chemistry courses (2 General, 1 Organic, 1 Biochem)
  • Statistics
  • At least one semester of anatomy & physiology
  • Two “general” biology courses (e.g., Molecular & Cellular Biology, Genetics & Evolution)
  • General microbiology and lab
  • Parasitology lecture and lab
  • Hematology and lab
  • Immunology
  • Medical bacteriology and lab 

Strongly recommended electives:

  • Immunology lab
  • Second semester of anatomy and physiology
  • Microbial genetics
  • Microbial physiology
  • Virology and lab
  • Mycology and lab

 

What kind of tuition and fees can I expect?

The three universities who send students to this program are Montana State University,Montana State University – Billings and University of Montana and you must be a student at one of these universities while attending the program. The MMLS Professional Program is a tuition based program.  Over three semesters you take 37 credits and you continue to pay tuition to your home institution.

You also will pay an addition laboratory fee (>$1,000/semester) for each of the three semesters.

 

How do I apply? 
Visit our Application Information page for further details on entry qualifications and the application process.

  

Additional Questions?

Please contact us:

Kay Rasmussen, MMLS Director, (406) 994-5664  kay.rasmussen@montana.edu

Alison Mizner, MMLS Associate Director, (406) 994-3961  alison.mizner@montana.edu