The program begins with the basic laboratory courses which present an ideal learning situation for the development of fundamental laboratory skills. This 8 week period includes lecture presentations, demonstrations, clinical observations and hands-on practical experience.
The clinical rotations, which follow the basic laboratory courses, stress the acquisition of manual and automated laboratory skills, understanding the principals of test procedures, instrumentation, quality control and approved safety practices.
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.
Students are carefully guided through each course by the teaching coordinators in each laboratory specialty. The teaching coordinator also orients the student to the laboratory setting, coordinate the student to work alongside 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 some of the clinical laboratories through which the student will rotate.
Blood Bank/Transfusion Medicine
The student will learn the techniques of ABO blood grouping methods, Rh testing, crossmatching and identification of unexpected 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. Blood bank activities require close coordination with the clinical care units, so students in this laboratory also gain a sense of direct involvement in patient care.
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.
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 of protein. Specimens are also examined for the presence of bacteria and parasites as well as crystals and casts formed by the kidneys.
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, and Parasitology.
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 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.
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.
Students spend the first week in the hospital being introduced to the faculty and staff of the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine. The student’s responsibilities are explained along with the school policies, safety procedures, grading system, and objectives.
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.
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.
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.