The MLS Program has been in existence at Evanston Hospital since the late 1930s and has recently expanded to include all of NorthShore’s hospitals in the winter of 2018. The goal of the Program is to prepare competent men and women for the profession of Medical Laboratory Scientist. This goal is accomplished through the student’s participation in a curriculum that includes a 6 week basic laboratory course as well as clinical rotations and didactic instruction in each laboratory specialty.

Students are carefully guided through each basic laboratory course and each clinical rotation by experts in each laboratory specialty. The Teaching Coordinator also orients the student to the laboratory setting, schedules the student to work with a qualified Medical Laboratory Scientist in each area of the laboratory, conducts review sessions, administers quizzes and examinations and holds primary responsibility for student evaluation. Following are descriptions of each sequence and some of the clinical laboratories through which the student will rotate.

BASIC LABORATORY

The year begins with a student laboratory workshop period that takes place at Evanston Hospital. The basic laboratory courses present an ideal learning environment for the development of fundamental laboratory skills. This 6 week period includes lecture presentations, demonstrations, clinical observations and hands-on practical experience.

CLINICAL ROTATIONS

Students rotate through clinical sections of the lab in a Core Laboratory and Non-Core Laboratory block format. These clinical rotations follow the basic laboratory courses and stress the applications of manual and automated laboratory skills, understanding the principals of test procedures, instrumentation, and quality control and approved safety practices. Students will be assigned to one of the 4-hospitals for Core Laboratory component of the clinical rotation. All of the Non-Core Laboratory clinical rotations will take place at Evanston Hospital during the remaining half of the academic year. Each rotation block is approximately 15 weeks long.

The Core Laboratory rotation includes: Blood Bank, Chemistry, Hematology, Coagulation, Urinalysis, and Point of Care testing. The Non-Core Laboratory rotation includes: Microbiology, Parasitology, Mycology, Immunology, Molecular Diagnostics, and Phlebotomy.

DIDACTIC LECTURES

The didactic portion of the Program is presented by pathologists, PhD scientists and experienced Medical Laboratory Scientists. It consists of approximately 6 hours of lecture per week with emphasis placed on theory, calculations and pathophysiology is considered the advanced application of theory taught.

COURSES

Immunohematology/Transfusion Medicine

The student will learn the techniques of ABO blood grouping methods, Rh testing, crossmatching and identification of atypical antibodies. In addition, the student learns about the preparation and use of blood components and observes blood collection procedures including whole blood and apheresis donations, as well as hematopoietic progenitor cell collection. Blood bank activities require close coordination with the clinical care units, so students in this laboratory have a sense of direct involvement in patient care.

Clinical Chemistry

In almost every illness, changes occur in the chemical constituents of blood and other body fluids. Physicians rely on the Clinical Chemistry Laboratory to help in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes, kidney disease, electrolyte imbalance and cardiac dysfunction through the analysis of patient samples. State-of-the art automation and robotics enable the laboratory to provide critical diagnostic information quickly and accurately to physicians in such areas as the emergency department, intensive care, surgery and the neonatal intensive care unit. In addition, the Clinical Chemistry Laboratory offers testing for the assessment of many metabolic systems that can include cholesterol measurement, thyroid and reproductive hormone levels, and therapeutic drug monitoring. Students will work with up-to-date, computer-assisted technology to provide critical as well as routine testing for effective patient care.

Hematology, Coagulation and Body Fluids

In the Hematology Laboratory students learn to count and classify the various types of red and white blood cells. They also learn how to determine whether the oxygen-carrying red blood cells are in a healthy state, an essential procedure for diagnosis of anemia. In addition, the students will be shown how to classify the cells in the bone marrow to assist the pathologist in the identification of leukemia and other blood disorders.

Tests are conducted in the Coagulation section of the Hematology Laboratory to determine the presence or absence of factors essential to normal blood coagulation. Special procedures are performed to identify acquired and inherited deficiencies of the coagulation proteins.

In the Body Fluids section of this rotation, body fluids are examined to determine the kinds and numbers of body cells present. It is in this laboratory that both quantitative and qualitative testing of urine is done. Urinalysis involves testing for pH, color, specific gravity, sugars and excessive amounts f protein. Specimens are also examined for the presence of bacteria and parasites as well as crystals and casts formed by the kidneys.

Microbiology

The Microbiology Laboratory has the responsibility of isolating and identifying potentially pathogenic microorganisms. In many cases the laboratory also determines the susceptibility of the etiologic agent to a variety of antibiotics. This laboratory is divided into Bacteriology, Mycology, Mycobacteriology, Parasitology, and Virology.

Bacteriology is concerned with the various bacteria that may cause direct destruction of tissue or harmful sequelae. Throat, urine, stool, blood, wound and sputum cultures are some of the types of specimens received for processing.

Mycology deals with fungi that may infect man on the surface of the skin (i.e., ringworm) or cause systemic complications (i.e., histoplasmosis). Mycobacteriology is the study of such organisms as that which causes tuberculosis.

In Parasitology specimens are examined for the presence of amoebae, malarial organisms, worms and their ova, and flagellates. Larger parasites, such as mites, fleas or ticks are also identified so the appropriate disease diagnosis can be made, treatment started, and public health concerns addressed.

The Virology Laboratory isolates viruses such as influenza, chicken pox, cytomegalovirus, and herpes from clinical specimens. Students will learn to perform methods and procedures used to isolate and identify these and other viruses.

Immunopathology

The Immunopathology Laboratory performs state-of-the art testing in Flow Cytometry and Diagnostic Immunology. In Flow Cytometry special emphasis is placed on diagnosis of leukemias and lymphomas and monitoring of immunologic pathologies. Rotation through the Immunology section includes performance of protein chemistry and infectious disease serology; detection of tumor markers; and pregnancy and prenatal diagnosis.

Molecular Diagnostics

The Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory is the fastest growing laboratory in our institution, reflecting the explosion in knowledge about the human genome and the availability of new tools to examine DNA and RNA.  Highly sensitive nucleic acid amplification methods, including real- time PCR, are used to detect low concentrations of infectious agents such as Herpes simplex virus.  Quantitative (viral load) tests for hepatitis C and HIV nucleic acid are used to monitor response to therapy.  Analysis of mutated genes is performed to evaluate patients with clotting disorders, and clonal gene rearrangement studies are used in the diagnosis of lymphomas.

Phlebotomy

Lectures and clinical rotation demonstrating the proper collection and processing of blood for routine and special tests are given. Both venipuncture and dermal puncture techniques are presented. Medical Laboratory Science students will gain competence drawing blood for laboratory testing in the Outpatient Laboratory and hospital patient care units.

Laboratory Operations, Education, and Management

Group dynamics, basic educational theory, the five functions of management and a variety of related topics are presented through lecture and group activities.

Scholastic Bowl: The Program participates in the annual Medical Laboratory Science Student Bowl sponsored by the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science at the state-wide meeting. Students are also given the opportunity to attend scientific education sessions at this meeting.

Mock Certification Exam: The Program administers a non-credit comprehensive examination based on the format of the American Society for Clinical Pathology certification examination.