Medical Laboratory Science: Program Overview
Medical laboratory scientists are a vital part of the health care team; they perform laboratory tests to analyze bodily fluids, which aids in the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of disease. Seventy percent of healthcare decisions are made based on the results from medical laboratory tests.
The Medical Laboratory Science (MS) degree program combines basic and advanced theoretical knowledge with clinical practice. The curriculum fosters problem-solving and diagnostic abilities. First-year students will learn basic theories and skills in the following areas:
- Clinical chemistry
- Clinical immunology
- Clinical microbiology
- Molecular diagnostics
Second-year students complete a clinical practicum at a laboratory within Rush University Medical Center or one of the following affiliated hospitals:
- Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
- Northwestern Memorial Hospital
- The University of Chicago Medicine
- University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System
Our mission is to prepare highly qualified graduates equipped to perform as laboratory professionals in a collaborative, diverse and rapidly changing health care environment. Students will be active participants in learning and developing into a competent, ethical professional. We prepare graduates who have a spirit of inquiry, a commitment to lifelong learning and service, and who are dedicated to advance the quality and availability of health care.
Our vision is to provide the highest quality Medical Laboratory Science programs and curricula that are recognized for excellence in preparation of diverse students who will be leaders in the laboratory profession.
Student Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of the program, students will be able to conduct the following:
- Demonstrate entry-level competence in medical laboratory science
- Perform venipuncture with 80 percent success
- Identify tubes along with the correct order of draw for blood collection and label tubes with 100 percent accuracy
- Perform, with a high level of competence, analytical tests on body fluids, cells and blood products
- Identify possible sources of error in in pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical stages of laboratory testing
- Predict the effect of error in pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical stages of laboratory testing
- Prepare a written laboratory report with accurate laboratory test results
- Practice principles of quality control related to laboratory practice
- Identify appropriate quality control for different laboratory tests
- Evaluate quality control data and follow a corrective action protocol if necessary
- Apply all safety and governmental regulations and standards
- Follows established safety practices (assessment methods = affective evaluation of practica)
- Demonstrate problem-solving and critical thinking skills
- Formulate a reasonable differential diagnosis from information contained in a patient case description. (assessed by critical thinking rubric in comprehensive course)
- Evaluate laboratory test results in order to determine their relevance to a case and determine if and what additional tests need to be ordered. (assessed by critical thinking rubric in comprehensive course)
- Demonstrate professional and effective oral and written communication skills.
- Demonstrate effective oral communication skills in a thorough and creative presentation of a research article that engages the audience and relates the study to current clinical practice.
- Deliver a clear and well-organized oral defense of the research project.
- Compose a written manuscript for the research project that conforms to departmental specifications
- Behave in an ethical, culturally-sensitive, and professional manner in a diverse environment.
- Display courteous and respectful behavior of others (assessed by affective evaluation in clinical practica)
- Participate as a productive and positive member of a team.
- Describe and practice instructional techniques and terminology
- Develop and present a lecture to include learning objectives and evaluation.
- Conduct a research project with faculty/mentor guidance
- Assume a leadership role in conducting research in medical laboratory science (assessed by the final defense rubric)
- Create a professional plan which supports ongoing professional career development
- Construct a portfolio including evidence of professional service and continuing education.
- Join a professional society as a student member
The Medical Laboratory Science professional program consists of two parts: didactic (classroom learning) and clinical (practice in the medical laboratory). After program completion, graduates should take a national certification examination.
All students entering one of the Medical Laboratory Science degree programs are required to have a criminal background check before matriculating. The student’s ability to begin the clinical portion of the program and to complete certification and licensure requirements for entry into the profession may depend on documentation of such things as drug screening and a background check for a history of criminal offenses. A drug screen is required before entering the clinical practica. Students are prohibited from using academic or professional credentials until the satisfactory completion of a degree and appropriate credentials are awarded.
Medical Laboratory Science (MS): Technical Standards
Rush University is committed to diversity and to attracting and educating students who will make the population of health care professionals representative of the national population.
Our core values - I CARE (innovation, collaboration, accountability, respect and excellence) - translate into our work with all students, including those with disabilities. Rush actively collaborates with students to develop innovative ways to ensure accessibility and creates a respectful, accountable culture through our confidential and specialized disability support. Rush is committed to excellence in accessibility; we encourage students with disabilities to disclose and seek accommodations.
The following technical functions are required of all students enrolled in the Medical Laboratory Science program:
- Acquire information from demonstrations and experiences in courses, such as lecture, group and physical demonstrations
- Acquire information from written documents and computer systems (e.g., literature searches and data retrieval)
- Identify information presented in accessible images from paper, slides, videos with audio description and transparencies
Use and Interpret
- Use and interpret information from assessment techniques/maneuvers/procedures
- Use and interpret information generated from diagnostic tools
- Possess psychomotor skills necessary to perform or assist with day-to-day responsibilities commensurate with the student’s discipline
- Practice in a safe manner and perform universal precautions against contamination
- Communicate effectively and sensitively with patients and families
- Communicate effectively with faculty, preceptors, employees, other professionals and all members of the health care team during practicum, internship and/or other learning experiences
- Measure, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize data related to the diagnosis and treatment of patients and populations
- Exercise proper judgment and complete responsibilities in a timely and accurate manner according to the medical laboratory science role
- Synthesize information, problem-solve and think critically to judge the most appropriate theory, assessment, management or treatment strategy
- Maintain mature, sensitive, effective relationships with clients/patients, families, students, faculty, staff, preceptors and other professionals under all circumstances
- Exercise skills of diplomacy to advocate for patients in need
- Possess emotional stability to function under stress and adapt to rapidly changing environments inherent to the classroom and practice settings
- Demonstrate concern for others
- Integrity, accountability, interest and motivation are necessary personal qualities
- Demonstrate intent and desire to follow the Rush University and Medical Laboratory Science code of ethics
The technical standards delineated above must be met with or without accommodation. Students who, after review of the technical standards, determine they require reasonable accommodation to fully engage in the program, should contact the Office of Student Disability Services to confidentially discuss their accommodations needs.
Given the clinical nature of our programs, time may be needed to create and implement the accommodations. Accommodations are never retroactive; therefore, timely requests are essential and encouraged. Contact the Office of Student Disability Services to learn more about accommodations at Rush University:
Marie Ferro-Lusk, MBA, MSW, LSW
Manager, Office of Student Disability Services
600 S. Paulina St., Suite 440
Chicago, IL 60612
The Master of Science program in Medical Laboratory Science is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, or NAACLS:
5600 N. River Road, Suite 720
Rosemont, IL 60018
(847) 939-3597 or (773) 714-8880
State Licensure Requirements
Some states require medical laboratory scientists to be licensed in the state in order to work in the medical laboratory in that state. Illinois does not license medical laboratory scientists. The Medical Laboratory Science program at Rush University satisfies requirements for certification by the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification and complies with the standards of accreditation established by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, but may not satisfy the licensing requirements for some states. In particular, our program may not satisfy the requirement for clinical training set by the state of California.
Students who intend on moving to a state that has licensure after completion of the program are encouraged to check with the requirements for state licensure before starting the program to make sure the Rush University curriculum will satisfy the requirements for licensure in that state.
Medical Laboratory Science (MS): Admission Requirements
Applicants must complete the pre-professional requirements prior to enrollment at Rush University. An overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required. Three letters of recommendation must be submitted with the admission application. Students are accepted at the beginning of the fall semester.
In addition to fulfillment of academic requirements, a personal interview conducted by members of the Admission Committee is required for admission. Interviews are behaviorally oriented and take about two hours. Questions focus on commitment, problem-solving ability, team interaction and initiative. Applicants are asked for life experience situations in which these behavioral characteristics are demonstrated. At the time of the interview, each applicant will be asked to write a short essay. Essays are evaluated for grammar, spelling, content and overall quality of written communication.
Applications are ranked on the basis of grades in prerequisite courses, references, interview results and the written essay. The following prerequisites are required for admission:
- A Bachelor of Science degree from an accredited United States college or university documented with official transcripts from each college or university attended. The program will accept a BS/BA degree from a foreign institution for admission with the following stipulations:
- The foreign transcript must be evaluated by the Education Credentials Evaluators, and the evaluation must result in a determination that the student has earned a BS/BA that is equivalent to a U.S. BS/BA.
- The applicant must satisfy the College of Health Science policy for the TOEFL exam.
- The following courses are required: 21 quarter/14 semester hours of chemistry (organic, quantitative analysis and biochemistry recommended); 18 quarter/12 semester hours of biology (anatomy and physiology, microbiology and genetics recommended); and 4 quarter/3 semester hours of mathematics (algebra and statistics recommended).
- An overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
- Personal interview.
- Three letters of recommendation.
- TOEFL/TSE if English is not the applicant’s first language.
Students who have not completed all requirements for entry into the Master of Science program may petition the Department of Medical Laboratory Science for consideration for admission. Such requests are handled on a case-by-case basis.
Hepatitis B Virus Vaccination
Before students are allowed to begin the program, they must have on file documentation that they have either begun or have finished the course of inoculations for the hepatitis B virus vaccine. This documentation must be sent directly to Castle Branch.
If the student has started but not yet finished the series of inoculations at the start of the program, documentation showing completion of the course of inoculations should be provided as soon as possible in order for the student to remain in the program. This information will be reviewed quarterly, and the student will be notified if not in compliance with this requirement. Students who fail to complete the hepatitis B virus vaccination protocol in a timely manner will not be allowed to register for the following term until providing documentation of compliance. In addition, students must submit a hepatitis B virus titer as proof of immunity.
All students must provide the results from tuberculosis screening tests in order to begin the program. Students must be tested annually for tuberculosis and must submit the results to Castle Branch. Failure to comply with this policy can lead to dismissal from the program or prevention of attendance at the clinical site regardless of GPA.
In cases where the tuberculosis screen is positive or contraindicated, students must be screened annually by a physician for symptoms of active tuberculosis and submit documentation that they have been screened and are symptom-free.
OSHA, HIPAA and Safety Training
Students are required to take all Rush University Medical Center training courses that apply to medical laboratory scientists. These courses must be taken annually and are available through Rush University’s LEAP Online system. Students failing to remain current in these training areas will not be allowed in the clinical laboratories.
Criminal Background Check and Drug Screen
All students entering the Master of Science in Medical Laboratory Science program are required to have a criminal background check before matriculating. The student’s ability to begin the clinical portion of the program and to complete certification and licensure requirements for entry into the profession may depend on documentation of such things as drug screening and a background check for a history of criminal offenses. A drug screen is required before entering the clinical practica.
Midterm Warning Notices
Students not maintaining a passing-level grade at midterm time will be given a written warning notice. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the course instructor immediately to ascertain how the grade can be improved.
High academic performance in required courses is expected. Students will be considered in good standing at Rush University unless placed on academic probation.
A cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.0 is required in the graduate programs. Cumulative grade-point averages will be reviewed after each term. No student will be permitted into the clinical rotation portion of the program unless they have the required GPA.
The faculty reserves the right to request the withdrawal of a student whose conduct, health or performance demonstrates lack of fitness for continuance in a health profession. Any such student not voluntarily withdrawing will be dismissed from the University.
Academic probation is assigned to any student who receives a term grade-point average below 3.0 or whose cumulative grade-point average falls below 3.0. Students placed on probation have two terms to regain the status of good standing as follows:
- In the next term after being placed on probation, the student must attain a term grade-point average of at least 3.0.
- Two terms after being placed on probation, the student must have a cumulative grade-point average above 3.0.
- Failure to make the minimum term grade-point average one term after probation, or the minimum cumulative grade-point average two terms after probation, will result in dismissal from the University.
- Note that the receipt of financial aid may also be impacted when the grade-point average falls below 3.0.
C, D, F or N Grades
Graduate students may not receive more than two grades of C or lower in the program. Graduate students who receive a third grade of C or lower will be dismissed from the program. Graduate students who receive a D, F or N grade in any course must repeat that course. If that a student is required to repeat a course that is a prerequisite for an advanced course, the advanced course may not be taken until the student successfully passes the prerequisite course. Thus, the student’s progression in the program may be affected. Students who receive a second D or F grade in the same academic year will be dismissed from the program.
All work in practicum courses must be at or above the B grade level. If a student earns a grade less than B in a clinical practicum course, the course must be repeated but may be repeated only once and must be taken within one year, with the new grade replacing the failing grade in the cumulative grade-point average. A second grade below B in any practicum course will result in dismissal from the program.
All students must take and pass a comprehensive examination at the end of the second year in order to graduate from the Medical Laboratory Science program. Any student who fails the cumulative examination must retake the examination until passing. A diploma will not be given until the student has passed all sections of the comprehensive examination.
Graduate Research Projects
See the Graduate Research Bulletin and Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences policy document for policies and procedures regarding graduate research projects. This bulletin lists specific deadlines for each component of the research project. Failure to meet these deadlines will delay acceptance of the research project and graduation from the program.
The comprehensive technical curriculum at Rush University prepares the student to enter the practice of medical laboratory science. Graduates are eligible to take the medical laboratory scientist’s certification examination given by the American Society of Clinical Pathology Board of Certification.
Service Work Policy
Service work is defined as performing the duties expected of an employee who is paid to perform those tasks as an unpaid student. Service work by students is not required nor permitted by the program. Students are present in the clinical laboratory to learn the operation of the clinical laboratory. While learning, and upon demonstrating proficiency, students may perform clinical tests under the supervision of an instructor who is a certified medical laboratory scientist. As such, students work on actual patient samples but at no time are they expected to, or allowed to, perform service work without pay.
There are numerous work-study jobs available to our students in the clinical laboratories as well as throughout the Medical Center and at our affiliate hospitals. Students are notified of openings as the faculty are informed. Students and supervisors at the clinical site must make a distinction between the student’s time in the laboratory as a student learning and not being paid and when the student becomes an employee and is working in the laboratory for pay on tasks they have been specifically trained to perform. Students should not be treated as employees during rotation time, which is typically from 7 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. What students do outside the time at which they are expected to be learning in the clinical laboratory is beyond the scope of control of the program.
The Master of Science degree in Medical Laboratory Science requires a minimum of 80 term hours. Candidates for the Master of Science degree must earn a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average in all computed upper-division credits taken at Rush University. A minimum of 40 term hours of academic credit shall be earned as a graduate student in academic residence at Rush University. Students must pass IPE courses in order to graduate.
The faculty of the Department of Medical Laboratory Science are responsible for providing both the didactic coursework and the clinical experiences necessary for students to successfully complete all degree requirements.
Faculty members in the Department of Medical Laboratory Science engage in technical and educational research. Areas include biochemistry, education, hematology, hospital administration, immunohematology, immunology, molecular oncology and microbiology. The Department of Medical Laboratory Science supports, and is involved in, the administration of the Continuing Education Program offered to the professional staff of Rush Medical Laboratories.
The Department of Medical Laboratory Science operates on the practitioner-teacher model. Faculty members are actively involved in the medical laboratories of Rush University Medical Center, maintaining active research, supervisory and clinical positions in their specialty areas. Several faculty members hold joint appointments in Rush Medical College. They provide the laboratory medicine courses for the Rush Medical College curriculum and the graduate College of Nursing curriculum.
Medical Laboratory Science (MS): Curriculum
The program is built around a core of basic and advanced theoretical knowledge and clinical practice. This combination of both theory and practice enhances the development of skilled, knowledgeable professionals whose flexibility allows them to function at the highest level within the various laboratory settings available to graduates of the program. These areas include primary health care facilities, as well as research, educational and commercial laboratory settings across the country and the world.
Students integrate the theory of medical science with the practice of medical laboratory procedures, learning basic theory and skills in hematology, clinical chemistry, immunology, immunohematology, molecular techniques and clinical microbiology in the first year. They then go on to more advanced courses in those areas in the second year along with courses in management, education and research to prepare students for supervisory, teaching and research positions.
Students apply basic concepts learned in the first year of the program as they rotate through the laboratories of Rush University Medical Center and affiliated hospitals. Currently, affiliate hospitals include the University of Chicago Medicine, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System. It is the policy of the Rush University Department of Medical Laboratory Science that all students admitted into the program who complete all first-year didactic courses will be guaranteed an opportunity to complete the clinical practicum at one of our affiliated hospitals.
This rigorous program requires students to achieve a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale in order to graduate. Students will receive hands-on experience in laboratory techniques and will develop a thorough knowledge base in medical laboratory science, providing a firm foundation for development and growth after graduation. The mission of the faculty is to do more than train technical health care personnel, but to also educate medical laboratory professionals who can meet the current and future demands of laboratory medicine. It is expected that students completing the Master of Science degree in Medical Laboratory Science will be the supervisors, managers and educators of the future.
Students in the Master of Science in Medical Laboratory Science program will complete a rigorous research project consisting of identification of the research problem and stating a hypothesis, designing and performing experiments to solve the research problem, interpreting and analyzing the data, as well as presenting the research study in written and oral formats, which may result in publication in a peer-reviewed journal or presentation at a professional society meeting, or both.
Graduates are eligible to take the medical laboratory scientist certification examination given by the American Society of Clinical Pathology Board of Certification. After passing this examination, students become certified as Medical Laboratory Scientists, or MLS (ASCP). Students are not eligible to take the national certification examination until all degree requirements are met. Verification of degree completion is required from the program director by the American Society of Clinical Pathology Board of Certification. Graduation from the program is not contingent on successfully passing a certification examination.
Program Total: 80 Credit Hours