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Medical Laboratory Sciences Undergraduate Major

What is Medical Laboratory Sciences?

Medical Laboratory Sciences (formerly Clinical Laboratory Sciences or Medical Technology) is a branch of medicine concerned with the performance of clinical tests that provide information to aid physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and the maintenance of wellness. Medical laboratory scientists perform laboratory procedures that reveal normal and abnormal conditions in the blood and other body fluids and tissues of medical patients. Charles Hill, a 2012 graduate from Purdue’s School of Health Sciences’  Medical Laboratory Sciences program, shares his experiences in this video.

What do Medical Laboratory Scientists do?

Medical laboratory scientists become adept in the operation and maintenance of sophisticated types of laboratory equipment, including chemical analyzers and electronic cell counters. If you are interested in the relationship between medical laboratory sciences and crime scene investigation and the role the forensic laboratory plays then please watch this video (Flash Player required).

What do I need?

Personal qualifications for a career in medical laboratory sciences include interest and ability in the sciences, sound judgment, and good power of observation.

The Purdue Medical Laboratory Sciences Major

The medical laboratory sciences curriculum is structured so that you study for three years at Purdue and one year at an affiliated school of medical laboratory sciences. Known as the "three-plus-one" program, this plan of study allows you to complete, by the end of your junior year, the coursework required for admission to a hospital-based training program during your senior year. The first three years provide a broadly based background in the sciences and mathematics. Major emphasis will be placed on biological sciences and chemistry. The fourth year consists of combined classroom and laboratory studies that provide experience in clinical chemistry, hematology, microbiology, serology, histology, urinalysis, parasitology, and instrumentation. Purdue's medical laboratory sciences curriculum meets the requirements adopted by the American Medical Association Council on Medical Education and the National Accrediting Agency for Medical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

Completion of prerequisite courses at Purdue does not guarantee admission to an affiliated hospital program. In general, acceptance is based on your academic performance, biographical information, letters of recommendation, motivation, aptitude, work experience, and your performance during admission interviews conducted by the respective hospital's admission staff. You should consult with your academic advisor early in your academic program to plan for an alternative four-year major in case you are not accepted for admission to a hospital program at the end of your junior year. A student who is not accepted to a hospital school at the end of the junior year may be able to complete a bachelor's degree with a major in another area within the School of Health Sciences.

Some students complete a four-year B.S. program before entering the year of training at a school of medical laboratory science. Successful completion of the three-plus-one program meets the requirements for the B.S. degree from Purdue University. Upon completion of the medical laboratory sciences program, you become eligible to take the national registry examination in medical laboratory science for certification by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) and other certifying agencies. medical laboratory sciences also provides a good background for an M.S. degree in areas such as environmental health, microbiology, clinical chemistry, pathology, immunology, business, health physics, or industrial hygiene.

For students who decide on a career in medicine, the medical laboratory sciences degree is excellent preparation. Specific premedical school requirements are discussed under the pre-professional health sciences major. The senior year spent in the hospital provides the student with an understanding of clinical diagnostic skills that is not available through any other degree program.

Students interested in considering a career in areas in which radioactivity and radiation are used in diagnosis and/or treatment of disease may wish to select certain courses as electives during their six semesters at Purdue. For example, such courses as NUPH 41200, Medical Applications of Radiation, and NUPH 41400, Nuclear Pharmacy Laboratory, provide an excellent background for students interested in nuclear medicine technology program for their fourth year of education toward the B.S. degree. Students may wish to consult their academic advisors on opportunities and courses in this area of study.

All students working toward the B.S. degree must complete the degree requirements of 128 credit hours presented in the medical laboratory sciences plan of study. The professional (senior) year of the medical laboratory sciences program consists of 12 months of clinical training at an approved hospital program. Fourth-year clinical students will register as full-time Purdue students and upon successful completion of their clinical training will receive 32 credit hours through the School of Health Sciences.

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