When I started college, I was a chemistry major on a pre-med track but when I shadowed at a hospital and observed the lab technologists there, their role in patient care interested me so much I decided to change my major to what they were doing: medical laboratory science, or MLS.
So what is it? Medical lab science recently underwent a name change from clinical lab science. Medical technologists (formerly clinical lab technologists) work in labs analyzing body fluids and send out results that the doctors can use to make decisions about patients’ treatments. MLS can be good for budding scientists if they want to study a blend of medicine and science during their undergraduate years. Usually the first two years of undergrad are similar to a biology major’s; it’s during the second two years that classes like clinical immunohematology, parasitology, mycology, biochemistry and microbiology are taught. Then there are semester- to year-long clinicals where students apply what they’ve learned in lecture. After graduation, students must get certified and pass a state board if their state requires one for work.
Why could MLS be good for you? Many reasons, actually. There is a shortage of MLS workers, you’ll get to work right out of college and your background in clinical lab will be phenomenal. Depending on where you work, there is room for specialization in certain areas like microbiology (where you’d be identifying microorganisms) or blood banks (where you’d be matching blood types for transfusions); you could also find yourself working in reference labs, public health labs, pharmaceuticals, biotech, forensics, veterinary clinics, fertility clinics, food industry and many more.
Aaron Lin is a chemistry major at Louisiana State University but has plans to transfer to LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans to pursue a clinical laboratory science degree and further feed his interest in the application of scientific and medical knowledge. In his free time, Aaron likes to eat food, read and write about food, exercise to work off that food and play the occasional computer game. He also enjoys footbiking, running and Frisbee.