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What is the quickest track to become a clinical lab scientist?

clinical lab scientist

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Christine’s Answer

As a Navy Vet, I know that their MLT "NEC" school is about 1 year long after completing the initial 4 month long Corpsman "A" school, and you can take the national ASCP test once finishing the NEC school. That's the fastest route I can think of aside from just going to a formal 4 year university program. The route I believe is similar for Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, Christine! Vanessa
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Jennifer’s Answer

There are many options depending on many factors you just have to decide what is right for you
The military is a great option- Army and Navy will allow you to 'contract' as that specialty, not sure about the Air Force. This is probably the fastest way, and you earn a salary from the start. Talking to a recruiter does not obligate you in any way. These programs are the equivalent to a 2-year program (MLT). Also, you can get a GI Bill to complete additional education (BS - MLS). You will have to commit to the military for a few years after this schooling, but you will get great experience (life and career)

Many Community colleges have a 2-year program and then you can sit for the national exam. This is probably the least pricey option without the military. Also, many programs have partnerships with local hospitals where you can work part time getting experience.

A true Medical Lab Scientist is a 4-year degree. BS-MLS. You may be able to work with a specific college and do it in 3 but in most cases they will not allow that unless there are other factors - already have some college,

If you already have a degree with a science major there are hospital programs (BSW Hospital in Central Texas) that are one year long - MLS only, they prepare you for the board exam and you can sit for the exam after completion.

Finally, due to the shortage within the career field, there are some hospitals willing to train you as a non-certified tech. Depending on the level of education and experience you have you would get paid less than a certified tech, but the experience would be great and help you if you eventually want to get certified in just a specific area (Hematology, Microbiology, Chemistry). I work in Texas and while not common, there are hospitals willing to hire if you have the right education and skill set. Many require you to get your degree within a certain time, but my hospital like others will help pay for school and some also have an MLS program.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is really helpful. Vanessa
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Catherine’s Answer

Hi! Clinical Laboratory Science is a fascinating field with lots of options for specialization.
The quickest way to get "onto the bench" is by getting an Associates degree in Medical Laboratory Technology from a community college.
Check with your state's community college system for agreements with the four year public universities. Some states have programs that allow people transfer into the junior year of university after graduating from the community college.
Med Lab Technician is (generally)the term for grads from the 2 year program, Clinical Lab Techs or Med Lab Technologists are 4 yr grads.
The job responsibilities are practically the same, but some employers are looking for that 4 year degree.
Good luck!
Thank you comment icon Thank you, Catherine! Vanessa
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LaTausha’s Answer

I'll reiterate and elaborate on what's already been stated.
With a 2 yr associates degree in medical technology / clinical lab science you will be technician (medical lab technician MLT or clinical lab technician CLT)
The 4 yr degree you will be a Medical technologist (MT)/ Medical lab scientist (MLS)/Clinical lab scientist (CLS) *the name has changed a few times but it's all the same*
After obtaining the degree, you'll need to be nationally certified. ASCP is the most widely accepted certification but there are others.
A hand full of states also require a Med tech license in addition to the national certification. NY, CA, FL come to mind but there a few others.
Depending on the employer, the duties could vary and the 4yr could have more considerations for supervisory and leadership roles or more complex testing opportunities.
Either degree is useful. And the profession is great on its own or as a foundation for other health careers (nursing, PA, MD). There is a high demand so job outlook is promising.
Good luck to you.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Vanessa
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Mary’s Answer

The quickest way to become a Clinical Laboratory Scientist is to go through a university that offers a Medical Laboratory Science(MLS) program. You can do this in about 4 years. There is alot of classes and work that go into it, but I will say it is very rewarding once you get through it. Starting off you take classes like anatomy, advanced chemistry courses (biochem, organic chem), biology classes, genetics, immunology and others. Once you get past a certain point everything starts to click and make more sense which include hematology, clinical chemistry, molecular genetics and diagnostics, medical microbiology, with some clinical laboratory classes. When you go through an MLS program, you do clinical internships where you are actually working in a lab (most of the times paid) and you do rotations. These rotations consist of chemistry, hematology, microbiology, blood bank and urinalysis. This creates an opportunity to find the department you really enjoy, along with securing a job at the place you did your rotations at.
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