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Continuing Education Opportunities for Molecular Biology Technologists

Instructor: Jessica Keys
Continuing education opportunities for molecular biology technologists come in many forms; from professional organizations, journals and as standalone courses. This article explores some of these opportunities.

Continuing Education: Molecular Biology

Certification is an important step for anybody pursuing a laboratory-based career in molecular biology. Moreover, a regularly maintained license may be a state requirement for employment in this field. Fortunately, there are many opportunities to obtain and maintain the appropriate credentials, as well as develop your expertise as a molecular biology technologist.

Certification From the American Society for Clinical Pathology

As the world's largest professional organization for laboratory professionals, the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) provides certification for a number of related careers, including molecular biology. In order to obtain this certification, you must satisfy certain educational or professional requirements, then sit for an exam.

MB(ASCP): Am I Eligible?

There are four different ways you can qualify as an exam candidate:

#1. You have a bachelor's degree, and you have earned prior ASCP certification as a technologist, scientist or specialist.
#2. You have a bachelor's degree, and you have successfully completed a National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS) accredited molecular science program (within the last five years).
#3. You have a bachelor's degree (with a major in, or at least 30 combined semester hours in biology, chemistry or medical science), and you have at least one year of full-time work experience in an accredited molecular biological laboratory.
#4. You have a master's degree or doctorate in molecular biology or related field, plus six months of full-time work experience in an accredited molecular biological laboratory.

Clinical laboratory experience in one of the following areas is also required before sitting for this exam:

  • Genetics or genomics
  • Oncology
  • DNA-based histocompatibility
  • Infectious disease
  • Molecular identity testing

Passing this exam will earn you a Technologist in Molecular Biology, MB(ASCP) certification. Also, while the ASCP is based in the United States, you may earn international certification with the International Technologist in Molecular Biology, MB(ASCPi) examination.

If you are planning to sit for this exam, a great way to prepare is with Study.com's own complete MB (ASCP) Technologist in Molecular Biology: Study Guide & Exam Prep course! Whether you're really stumped on a certain subject, or you just want to review it all, our quick video lessons give you the freedom to study what you want, at your own pace. Plus, you can assess your progress every step of the way--there's a practice exam for each chapter!

Alternately, if you aren't sure whether the MB(ASCP) is the right qualification for you, you may want to investigate other certifications, such as Specialist in Molecular Biology, SMB(ASCP), Technologist in Microbiology, M(ASCP), or Medical Laboratory Scientist, MLS(ASCP). If these credentials are of interest to you, you can check out our M (ASCP) Technologist in Microbiology: Study Guide & Exam Prep and MLT (ASCP) Medical Laboratory Technician: Study Guide & Exam Prep courses to prepare for the exams.

MB(ASCP): Maintenance

Once you've passed the exam, you will earn professional certification and receive a wall certificate. The ASCP requires that you maintain your credentials by earning a certain number of credential maintenance points (CMPs) every three years. This is to ensure that your knowledge base remains active and current as you develop your career. To maintain your MB(ASCP), you must earn the following number of CMPs in certain subject areas:

  • Molecular biology: 2 points
  • Lab or patient safety: 1 point
  • The remaining 33 points may be allocated among topics such as laboratory management, education or other related areas that interest you.

These points may be earned in a number of ways. For example, your employer may offer courses or vendor-sponsored events for transferable credit. Taking a lab-related university course may be worth CMPs, as well as teaching students within an accredited laboratory program. However, participating in approved continuing education courses or other activities from ASCP or other professional societies is also a great way to earn CMPs.

Note: In addition to earning credit hours, you must also pay a $95 fee to ASCP; this fee may be reduced to $15 if you have multiple ASCP certifications (expiring within three months of each other).

Continuing Education Providers for Microbiology Technologists:

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) at www.ascp.org: The ASCP provides both certification and a wealth of opportunities to maintain it. Choose from a variety of workshops, live events and seminars, as well as online courses. Additionally, the ASCP publishes three professional journals: The American Journal of Clinical Pathology, Lab Medicine and Critical Values.

The Association of Genetic Technologists, Inc. (AGT) at www.agt-info.org: This is a professional organization that primarily serves those who work with molecular and biological genetics, as well as cytogenetics. AGT offers online education and a webinar series, as well as a Journal Club activity that may be completed for credit. Those interested may also take a credited self-assessment with each issue of AGT's own publication, The Journal of the Association of Genetic Technologists. Members of the AGT may participate in these activities for free, or for a discount.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov: The CDC offers Professional Acknowledgement for Continuing Education (PACE) credits, particularly in the areas of laboratory training and safety. These courses may be taken live or online.

Other approved continuing education providers include the American Medical Technologists (AMT), the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) and the Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA).

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