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Medical Laboratory Science

Medical Laboratory Scientists (also known as Medical Technologists) are highly skilled laboratory scientists who perform and evaluate laboratory procedures using a variety of sophisticated instruments. They perform, supervise and provide consultation for laboratory analyses on blood and various body fluids to obtain data on which a diagnosis is made and appropriate therapy initiated. The major disciplines in laboratory science are:

  • Hematology
  • Immunohematology (blood banking)
  • Microbiology
  • Clinical Chemistry
  • Immunology
  • Urinalysis
  • Mycology
  • Parasitology

An individual may specialize in one of these disciplines or remain a generalist, depending on the type of laboratory and the needs of the facility in which they are employed. A career in medical laboratory science provides opportunities for work that are both personally rewarding and challenging.

As cost consciousness in health care delivery has increased, Medical Laboratory Scientists have become increasingly valuable to the health care system. This is because Medical Laboratory Scientists are knowledgeable about cost effective ways to deliver quality care and are trained to make the kinds of decisions that make effective lab services possible. Medical Laboratory Scientists assume positions of increasing responsibility in clinical laboratories and within institution management structure. Their functions include managing the laboratory and directing the work of others performing complex laboratory analyses and making judgments about the quality of laboratory results before they are reported. Medical Laboratory Scientists must be experts in clinical laboratory science as well as in the administrative and managerial functions necessary to ensure the effective operation of clinical laboratory services.

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Application Information

Applications will open October 1.

Early Application Deadline: December 1
Regular Application Deadline: April 1
Late Application Deadline: June 15

Program Outcomes

Year Graduation Rate Percentage of Graduates Who Passed the Board of Certification Exam Within a Year of Graduation Employment Rate Within 6 months of Graduation Attrition Rate
2016 86% 88% 94% 14%
2017 93% 92% 100% 7%
2018 100% 84% 96% 0
Average 93% 88% 96% 7%

Typically, 100 percent of graduates seeking employment are hired within 6 months.


Minimum requirements for becoming a medical laboratory scientist includes satisfactory completion of two years of pre-professional college work, including certain prescribed courses. Students may then be admitted to a two-year professional program approved the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). High school students can prepare for a career in Medical Laboratory Science by taking courses in physical and biological sciences, along with other college preparatory courses.

For admission to the Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science degree programs or the Master of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), students are expected to be able to successfully meet the Technical Standards outlined below. Students are required to sign the Technical Standards Commitment form indicating their understanding and ability to meet these standards either with or without accommodations (for persons with documented disabilities). Any questions about these technical standards should be directed to the program director of the MLS programs.

 UTHSC receives applications from a diverse body of potential students including those with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations will be provided to help students meet these technical standards when appropriate, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Any student wishing accommodations should contact the Student Academic Support Services and Inclusion (SASSI) for further information. Information regarding accommodations can be found on the SASSI website page: or by calling 901-448-5056.

 In the event a student cannot fulfill these Technical Standards with or without reasonable accommodations at any time in their program, the student will be ineligible for admission or continued enrollment in the program. In addition to ensuring that students can meet the intellectual, emotion and physical criteria for medical laboratory science, it should also be noted that of utmost importance is the student's ability to provide for the welfare and safety of their patients and others. This is the foundation of all Technical Standards and if this cannot be done, the student is unable to meet the criteria outlined by the Technical Standards.

Once enrolled in the BS MLS or MS CLS Program, students must meet the requirements of the curriculum, including the demonstration of the skills described herein for the Program in order to progress through the curriculum and to graduate.

General Standards

The students must have the ability to:

  • Assess and make appropriate judgements regarding lab services and patient outcomes.
  • Prioritize and perform laboratory testing.
  • Adapt to a variety of patient care situations, including crisis.
  • Communicate effectively in English, orally and in writing.
  • Participate in discussion in the classroom, the clinical arena and with colleagues and patients.
  • Acquire information developed through didactic instruction and clinical experiences.
  • Comprehend reading assignments and to search and evaluate literature.
  • Prepare written assignments and maintain written records.
  • Perform duties and assignments in a timely fashion while under stress and in a variety of settings.
  • Meet deadlines and manage time.
  • Utilize the computer for instructional assignments and patient care activities.

Physical and Motor Skills

The student must possess:

  • Dexterity with both wrists, hands and arms, and dexterity with al fingers.
  • Motor skills to grasp, pinch, push, pull, finger, hold, extend, rotate, and cut.
  • Ability to obtain and/or verify patient samples.
  • Sufficient stamina to tolerate physically taxing workloads.
  • Ability to operate/manipulate and effectively evaluate the status of laboratory instruments and equipment.

Sensory Skills

The student must possess:

  • Visual acuity (corrected to 20/40); visual perception with respect to depth and color.

Cognitive, Integrative, Quantitative Skills

The student must possess the:

  • Ability to measure, calculate, analyze, interpret, synthesize and evaluate as applicable to clinical practice.
  • Ability to solve one or more problems within specific time frames, which are often short.
  • Ability to comprehend spatial relationships.

Affective, Behavioral and Social Skills

The student must be able to:

  • Function as part of a team (communicate effectively in English, consult, negotiate, share, delegate).
  • Delegate to and supervise others.
  • Adhere to safety guidelines for self and others.
  • Comply with standards and regulations required by external agencies.
  • Follow instructions/procedures with accuracy and precision.
  • Maintain intellectual and emotional stability and maturity under stress, while also maintaining appropriate performance standards.
  • Learn and exhibit professional attributes.
Affiliate Location
American Esoteric Laboratory Memphis, TN
Baptist Hospital Nashville, TN
Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation:
  1. Baptist Memphis Hospital
  2. Baptist Women’s Hospital
  3. Baptist Desoto
  4. Baptist Tipton
  5. Baptist Collierville
Memphis, TN Metro Area
Baptist Memorial Hospital Union City, TN
Centennial Medical Center Nashville, TN
Erlanger Baroness Campus Chattanooga, TN
Jackson Madison County General Hospital Jackson, TN
Maury Regional Healthcare System Columbia, TN
Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare System:
  1. Methodist University Hospital
  2. Methodist North
  3. Methodist Germantown
  4. LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center
Memphis, TN Metro Area
Middle Tennessee Medical Center Murfreesboro, TN
Regional Medical Center Memphis, TN
St. Francis Healthcare
St. Francis Hospital - Memphis
Memphis, TN Metro Area
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Memphis, TN
St. Thomas Hospital Nashville, TN
Veterans Affair Medical Center Memphis, TN

Medical Laboratory Scientists...

  • are fascinated by science
  • are problem solvers
  • like challenge and responsibility
  • are accurate and reliable
  • enjoy a fast-paced environment
  • communicate well
  • set high standards for themselves
  • want to help others

Career opportunities are numerous in...

  • Hospital and private laboratories
  • Biotechnology industry
  • Research and forensic laboratories
  • Public Health
  • Sales and lab product development
  • Management
  • Higher education
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Armed forces
  • Histocompatibility
  • Molecular Diagnostics

Graduates of programs in Medical Laboratory Science approved by (NAACLS) are eligible to take certification examinations given by several certifying agencies. Individuals certified by the Board of Certification of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) are recognized as professional Medical Laboratory Scientists by the designation MLS after their names. Those certified by American Medical Technologists are designated Medical Laboratory Scientists (MLS).

A Tennessee state license is required to practice medical laboratory in Tennessee. In order to obtain a Tennessee state license, one must provide evidence of having passed a national certification examination.

To obtain more information on obtaining a Tennessee state license for medical laboratory science, write or call:

Tennessee State Department of Health
Medical Laboratory Board
227 French Landing, Suite 300 
Heritage Place MetroCenter 
Nashville, TN 37243 
Phone: 800.778.4123 

Last Published: Apr 10, 2019