Medical Laboratory Science Program
Training Future Medical Laboratory Scientists
One of Penn State Health's missions is "the professional preparation of those who will serve the health needs of others." As part of that mission, a Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) Program has been created in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
The MLS Program is an 11-month training program that will result in a certificate in medical laboratory science from Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center while fulfilling requirements for a bachelor’s-level degree in a Medical Laboratory Science-related major from the affiliating college or university.
The program typically fulfills the student's senior year of college (3+1 option), but applicants with a BS degree (4+1) who meet the entrance requirements will be considered.
The mission of the program is to prepare individuals for the practice of medical laboratory science and provide qualified laboratory professionals for Penn State Health's needs, as well as regional, national and global needs. The curriculum encompasses didactic and clinical experiences; the development of professional and leadership skills; and a commitment to life-long learning. The program promotes the values of respect for others, integrity, teamwork, and excellence in providing the high-quality care patients need and deserve.
The program culminates with the student attaining career-entry competence as a Medical Laboratory Scientist.
Explore the MLS Program
Mary Beth Miele, PhD, MLS(ASCP)CM, RM(NRCM)
MLS Program Director
Instructor, Department of Pathology
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
500 University Dr.
Hershey, PA 17033-0850
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center's Medical Laboratory Science Program strives to:
- Provide educational experiences relevant and appropriate to medical laboratory science
- Provide a quality-driven curriculum based on current needs and latest testing methodologies and technological advances, including all aspects of clinical laboratory operation and management
- Immerse students in the day-to-day responsibilities of laboratory practitioners committed to the mission, vision and values of Penn State Health
- Share information, provide resources and create a consistent training program to build stronger teams and create a culture that cultivates stable and sustainable relationships within our health care systems and beyond
- Encourage student to constantly seek opportunities for individual personal and professional growth to enable success in career-entry level positions and their professional development into well-trained and highly skilled laboratory scientist, with the potential for higher-level health care positions, including the pursuit of advanced degrees to meet their career goals
- Prepare graduates for certification and/or licensure in medical laboratory science
- Broaden community awareness of the profession of medical laboratory science and its vital role in providing the best quality care for patients, as well as improving the health of our community
- Help meet the demand for competent practitioners in a variety of laboratory settings and venues
- Share expertise around the globe (global health)
- Help the student learn new skills and to seek out and share knowledge to promote teamwork in the health care setting and surrounding community
Eight students are accepted into the Medical Laboratory Scientist Program each year.
The tuition fee for the program is reviewed annually and is currently set at $15,000. Other student expenses include textbooks and living expenses. Students participating through an affiliated institution will pay their fourth-year tuition to their home institution, and a portion of that will be used to cover the cost of the program. Students who have already earned a bachelor's degree will pay the set tuition amount.
During the program, students attend classes and participate in various clinical activities. Time is divided between the classroom, student laboratory and clinical laboratory settings.
- Program start: June
- Time off: July 4 (one week); Labor Day (one day); Thanksgiving (two days); Winter Break (two weeks); Spring Break (one week)
- Program end: April
- Total time: 48 weeks (44 weeks of instruction)
Students routinely attend class and/or clinical experiences from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. All educational and experiential training will occur at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center facilities. There are no classroom or clinical laboratory experiences scheduled on the six holidays observed by the Medical Center.
Curriculum activities provide for laboratory skills development and mastery, as well as a knowledge base in medical laboratory science. Acquiring this knowledge and perfecting these skills enables program graduates to function in many laboratory settings, including hospital, physician office, reference, research, forensic and industrial laboratories.
The curriculum is structured to provide the principles of Medical Laboratory Science through didactic presentations, laboratory exercises and practical experience within a clinical laboratory setting that meet or exceed standard set by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).
The program is divided into two phases:
- Pre-clinical education in classroom and student laboratory settings (eight students, one to two educators).
- Experiential learning through scheduled rotations throughout the clinical pathology laboratories at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center (one to two students, one trainer).
Lectures, group discussions, student laboratory activities and rotation assignments in service laboratories are used as effective learning opportunities.
Six courses are required as part of the MLS program.See a detailed course list here
Note: Affiliated colleges and universities will assign credit according to individual requirements of their bachelor’s degree.
Detailed information is available for Medical Laboratory Science Program students, including functional expectations and evaluation details.See student resources
Colleges and universities provide the necessary science prerequisites for the Medical Laboratory Scientist Program at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
Applicants who meet all entrance requirements may apply to the Program; however, preference is given to students from institutions with established academic affiliation agreements. Presently, the Medical Laboratory Science Program at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center has a formal academic affiliation agreement with:
The Medical Laboratory Science Program at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is in the process of accreditation by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), a professional agency that establishes educational standards for baccalaureate-level programs in the medical laboratory sciences.
5600 N. River Road, Suite 720
Rosemont, IL 60018
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Penn State Health Milton S. Medical Center was founded in 1963 through a gift from The Milton S. Hershey Foundation and opened its doors in 1967. Since then, it has become a leading teaching and research hospital. The Medical Center includes six institutes − Penn State Cancer Institute, Penn State Heart and Vascular Institute, Penn State Bone and Joint Institute, Penn State Neuroscience Institute, Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute and Penn State Institute for Personalized Medicine. Hershey Medical Center is the only medical facility in Pennsylvania to be accredited as both an adult and pediatric Level 1 trauma center.
Recognized as one of the nation’s premier academic health centers, Hershey Medical Center recruits faculty members who are internationally known for their accomplishments in research, education and patient care. Penn State College of Medicine and Hershey Medical Center faculty and physicians integrate the latest biomedical knowledge and technology with compassionate care of patients, while educating the next generation of scientists, physicians and health care professionals.
The Medical Center employs more than 10,000 people and has an annual budget of approximately $1.7 billion dollars, 548 licensed beds, and approximately 28,000 hospital admissions (adult and pediatric), 32,000 surgical procedures and 75,000 emergency room visits annually. Each year, more than 1 million outpatient visits occur within the Penn State Health system, and this number is likely to grow as new regional and community partners join the system.
Pathology Department Laboratories
Within the Department of Pathology, laboratories serve the needs of both clinicians and patients.
Anatomic pathology services include decedent care, cytopathology, histology, surgical pathology, hematopathology and dermatopathology.
Clinical pathology services include specimen processing, phlebotomy, client services, and patient laboratory test results reporting.
Transfusion medicine and transplantation support services encompass blood donation, blood typing, compatibility testing, antibody identification, stem cell collection and pre- and post-transplant histocompatibility testing, and therapeutic apheresis services.
Testing of human samples to identify infectious agents that impact patient treatment is performed in microbiology and virology by manual and molecular methods.
In the molecular pathology laboratory, genetic sequences associated with high-risk human papillomaviruses, chronic myelogenous leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, thrombosis risk and cystic fibrosis are sought to support the diagnoses or aid in the monitoring or treatment of these diseases.
The automated testing laboratory provides hematology, coagulation, clinical chemistry and urinalysis testing. Billable test volumes for all clinical pathology laboratories exceed 2 million annually.
The Medical Laboratory Science training program has a separate classroom dedicated to Phase One didactic instruction and a student laboratory that allows students to gain the technical skills necessary to perform laboratory testing on clinical specimens.
Phase Two of the training program will take place within the clinical pathology laboratories, which occupy more than 18,000 square feet.
Daily Phase One activities will focus on building foundational knowledge of clinical laboratory practice and obtaining technical skills essential for good laboratory practice in both classroom and student laboratory settings. In Phase Two, students will work side-by-side with certified laboratory professionals in our Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments-certified, College of American Pathologists-accredited laboratories to perform waived to high-complexity laboratory testing of clinical samples. The test results obtained provide objective data to aid clinicians when making diagnostic, prognostic and treatment decisions critical to good patient outcomes and excellent patient care.
Curriculum activities promote the development and mastery of laboratory skills. Acquiring this knowledge and perfecting these skills enables program graduates to function in many laboratory settings, including hospital, physician office, reference, research, forensic and industrial laboratories.
Harrell Health Sciences Library
Medical Laboratory Science students also have free, unlimited access to Harrell Health Sciences Library Research and Learning Commons resources. Library collections and services support the informational needs of Hershey Medical Center users engaged in patient care, research and education, including interlibrary loan, search services and instruction. Students have on-site access to more than 6.9 million books, almost 400,000 ebooks, 110,000 online full-text journals and 706 databases. Most digital platforms are compatible with mobile devices.
Each MLS student will be issued a laptop computer for use during the 11-month training period. Penn State provides access to many of the major scientific journals, highly used scholarly databases and point-of-care clinical tools. The first floor of the library features a mix of lounges, study carrels, group study rooms, the One-Button Studio for presentation recording and a technology sandbox for experimentation with emerging technologies, including new software and 3D printing. The library is open every day except major holidays, and the study room and computer lab are available 24 hours a day.Learn more about the Harrell Health Sciences Library
The Medical Laboratory Science program admits eight students per year.
Admission to the program is determined by an Admissions Committee, which will offer admission to those students whose academic performance, recommendations by references and attributes in the affective domain indicate the highest probability of success.
The committee uses a system based on the cumulative grade-point average, the science GPA, college affiliation, reference letters and an interview rating by the committee to evaluate and rank applications.
Students from academic affiliates of the program will receive preference in case of equal rankings.
Applicants for admission to the program will receive equal consideration regardless of race, color, religious or sexual preference, ethnic or national origin, age or sex.
In order to be admitted to the Medical Laboratory Science program, the following are recommended or required:
- Minimum GPA in chemistry and biological sciences of 2.75
- Minimum overall GPA of 2.75
- Two references
- Personal interview, where applicant will be evaluated as to accountability, teamwork, time and resource management, self-confidence, communication and interpersonal skills, maturity and motivation for the field of medical laboratory science
- Transcript evaluation (performed by University/College Program Liaison/Adviser and/or by the MLS program director)
In addition, applicants with a degree from a foreign university must have their transcripts evaluated for U.S. equivalency.
Applications for the 2021-2022 Medical Laboratory Science program are being accepted now through December 2020.
MLS Program Prerequisite Curriculum
The following curriculum prerequisites are suggested or required for admission into the Medical Laboratory Science program at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
- Have met a minimum of 90 semester hours of study in an accredited college or university completing college-specified courses to receive a bachelor’s degree.
- Have completed all courses prerequisite to the clinical rotation year as required.
- Chemistry: Minimum 16 semester hours of courses acceptable to the major that encompass areas such as General Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, and Organic and/or Biochemistry. Courses must include labs. Survey courses do not qualify as fulfillment of the chemistry prerequisites.
- Biological sciences: Minimum 16 semester hours of courses acceptable to the major that encompass areas such as Microbiology, Immunology, Anatomy/Physiology and Genetics. Highly recommended courses are Applied/Pathogenic Microbiology and Molecular Biology. Cellular Biology and Biology Seminar are suggested electives. Courses should include labs. Survey courses do not qualify as fulfillment of the biology prerequisites.
- Mathematics: One course in college-level Mathematics is required. Statistics is recommended.
- Other: An introductory course in computer literacy is recommended.
- Applicants with a baccalaureate degree who completed minimum course requirements seven or more years before application must update their academic preparation by enrolling and completing courses, at the discretion of the program director, in Microbiology, Immunology, Biochemistry, and/or Genetics with a grade B or better to ensure academic preparedness.
- Applicants with a degree from a foreign university must have their transcripts evaluated for U.S. equivalency (e.g., by World Education Services Inc., New York, NY). This evaluation will determine the applicant’s eligibility by assessing academic preparedness. The ability to communicate readily in English orally and in writing is an essential requirement for the program.
- All required pre-clinical medical laboratory science courses must be completed and the student must be eligible for a baccalaureate degree from a college/university or must currently hold a baccalaureate degree.
Students must possess certain physical and mental attributes to be able to complete the Medical Laboratory Science curriculum.
As part of the application process, students must read and sign off on reading and understanding of these functional expectations. A student must meet these expectations without or with reasonable accommodation.
In addition to the essential functions, students are required to undergo pre-placement health screening. This screening includes PPD testing, health history, immunization compliance and drug screen. Criminal background checks will be performed prior to admitting any student to the program. A student who fails the drug screen or criminal background check will not be allowed to enter the program. The cost of the above screenings and checks are at the student’s expense. Penn State Health is a smoke-free environment.
The ability of an individual to participate in and complete the instructional activities of the program will be determined through discussion among the applicant, the program officials, the student's personal physician and the EHS physician, as appropriate.