So You Are Interested in Medical Laboratory Science?


Are you interested in a career in medical laboratory science? Montana Smith, a student in Mayo Clinic's Medical Laboratory Science class of 2017, provides a comprehensive overview of the profession:

There are a number of different ways that you might have been introduced to the career, perhaps you searched for "general careers in medicine," maybe your neighbor is a medical laboratory scientist (MLS), or it could be that this is the first you have heard of the profession. However you discovered us, you probably have a few questions about the field.

The question I most commonly hear is, “What do you do?”

There is no simple answer to that, especially not at Mayo Clinic. MLS students are trained generally, and then they may specialize. How specialized they get depends on the size of the hospital or laboratory in which they work. Some of the subjects that are studied in the Mayo Clinic MLS program include clinical microbiology, clinical chemistry, hematology, immunology, and molecular diagnostics, among others.

Another common question is, “What kind of program is that?”

There are a number of ways to become an MLS. A person could get his or her undergraduate degree in a number of subjects; most relevant would be biology, microbiology, or chemistry to provide strong background knowledge of the subjects addressed later. After an undergraduate degree, that person would then apply to a certified MLS (previously referred to as clinical laboratory scientist or CLS) program like the one at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

A similar path would be to work toward an undergraduate degree in MLS/CLS at a university affiliated with a hospital MLS program, fulfill the undergraduate requirements, and transfer to the hospital site following the university’s track. Returning to get certified after leaving university is also an option. No matter where they started, after participation in their certified program, individuals would then take their board of certification exams to become an official MLS.

While those are the basic questions, there are certainly more focused areas to explore in the future concerning curricula, teaching methods, types of testing performed, and methodology among others.

Montana Smith

Montana Smith

Montana Smith is a student in Mayo’s MLS class of 2017 and will concurrently finish an undergraduate degree in Clinical Laboratory Science from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. Montana is a Rochester native and enjoys being back in Minnesota.