Medical lab training and education programs for aspiring technicians are mainly 2-year degree programs offered by community and technical colleges. There are some 1-year certificate programs available through hospitals for those with degrees in related fields, such as nursing. Students interested in becoming medical lab technologists will usually need a bachelor's degree in the field of medical technology or life sciences, also known as a medical laboratory scientist degree, to start entry-level positions. Certification or licensure is required by some states. Usually licensure requires holding a bachelor's degree and passing an exam. Some states require certification before applying for licensure.
Here are some common concepts taught in medical lab courses:
- Data analysis
- Lab techniques
- Fecal analysis
- Specimen collection
List of Courses
Medical Laboratory Concepts Course
This course is the first required course in a medical lab program and is designed to orient students to the medical lab. Instructors provide an introduction to the use and maintenance of laboratory equipment and safety procedures. Measurement and calculation concepts are reviewed along with medical terminology related to laboratory procedures.
Chemistry for Medical Lab Technicians Course
Chemicals and chemical formulas used in lab test preparation and in test result analysis are explored in this course. Medical lab technicians review basic chemistry and become familiar with toxicology and chemical reaction hazards. The chemical makeup and balance of bodily fluids are discussed.
Microbiology for the Medical Lab Course
The purpose of this class is to instruct medical lab technicians in how to identify and handle microscopic organisms. Practical applications of microbiology, including testing for bacterial infections, are a major part of this course.
Bodily Fluid Analysis Course
Students take this course to learn laboratory techniques for analyzing bodily fluids other than blood, such as urine, gastric and spinal fluids. Fluids are examined for existence of disease-related substances. Proper methods for collecting fluids for accurate tests results are taught. Urinalysis is discussed in detail.
In a phlebotomy course, students learn methods of extracting blood for testing. Methods include venipuncture, the act of puncturing a vein to obtain a blood sample, and finger sticking. Instructors teach safety measures used in handling blood. In some programs, this class may be combined with a hematology course.
Laboratory Technician Hematology Course
Hematology courses for medical lab students deal with testing human blood samples for diagnosis purposes. The coursework includes learning to count red and white blood cells and platelets. The differences between a normal blood cell and an abnormal cell are examined. This course may include a section on venipuncture.
Immunology for Diagnostic Testing Course
Medical lab students learn the parts of the human immune system and tests used to study immune system status. Students learn to test for antigens, germs or toxins that enter the body, and antibodies, cells produced during an immune response. Medical lab diagnostic tests of the immune system taught in this course include immunodiffusion and immunofluorescence.