Curriculum and Clinical Experience
This 45-week preceptorship provides a comprehensive curriculum of theoretical knowledge and direct clinical experience in medical laboratory science. The course content and presentation encourages excellence, independence, and confidence in the application of skills, clinical theory, and problem solving within a carefully crafted program which guides students to distinction as highly-qualified, competent, entry-level technologists. Each course includes the didactic rotation of in-depth lecture series and corresponding student lab sessions, followed by the clinical rotation supplying over 720 hours of direct clinical experience including substantial involvement with instrumentation and quality control, along with direct supervised experience from specimen procurement through result reporting. The listed course credits are suggested guides and are not awarded by UPMC Chautauqua; refer to the affiliated college/university catalog for the distribution of credits awarded for the following courses.
The didactic rotation covers the theory and principles surrounding the body’s immunological response to disease and the current means of detecting and determining such responses, along with topics in abnormal antibody production as seen in autoimmune diseases and multiple myeloma, and the dynamic field of molecular diagnostics. The clinical rotation allows for direct experience in the numerous serological diagnostic methods, including protein electrophoresis, while building competency in techniques and diagnostic theory.
Coursework in the didactic rotation emphasizes the theory, practice, and diagnostic principles in antibodies and red cell antigens. Topics include blood group systems, hemolytic diseases, and blood donor and recipient transfusion practices. Competency is proven during the clinical rotation with direct bench experience in the intricate procedures and techniques of transfusion medicine, blood component therapy, and the application of immunohematology problem solving.
The study of the cellular and formed elements of blood, body fluids, and the blood-forming tissues and their relation to the diagnostic care of patients as correlated with the entire clinical condition are covered in the didactic rotation. Theory and practice of hemostasis and fibrinolytic pathways are also covered in depth. During the clinical rotation, competency is met through direct experience with specialized instrumentation and manual methods utilized to study cellular morphology, physiology, and pathology, including extensive experience in the differential analysis of microscopic smears of a wide variety of disease abnormalities.
The didactic rotation focuses on the study of analytical chemistry and qualitative analysis of human blood and body fluids stressing the chemistry of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, vitamins, enzymes, hormones, and more, and their correlation with states of health and disease. Additional topics include applicable principles of quality control, statistical analysis, and laboratory mathematics, along with therapeutic drug monitoring and detecting drugs of abuse. Direct, hands-on experience with the sophisticated instrumentation in the clinical rotation complements the learned knowledgebase through applying the theory of disease to real-time patient results while gaining direct experience in troubleshooting pre-analytical and analytical findings.
Coursework during the didactic rotation considers the anatomy and physiology of the urinary system along with the physical, chemical, and microscopic properties of normal and abnormal urines. Kidney function analysis rounds out the creation of the clinical picture. During the clinical rotation, experience with manual and automated methodologies further builds competency in urinalysis as results are utilized for clinical disease evaluation.
The didactic rotation covers the study of significant microorganisms recovered in clinical specimens through the principles of bacteriology, mycology, mycobacteriology, virology, and parasitology, along with an introduction to microbiology laboratory skills. The direct clinical experience within the clinical rotation sets high competency standards as microbiological techniques and procedures for culture, isolation, staining, identification, and antimicrobial susceptibility of pathogenic microorganisms are stressed. This clinical rotation includes significant experience in molecular diagnostics with both automated and semi-automated molecular genetic techniques in the diagnosis of disease.
This combines several segments of instruction:
Orientation: Orientation is designed to allow the student to become comfortable in the professional environment and acquainted with the laboratory staff and clinical routine. Lectures in safety, universal precautions, conduct, academic success, and introductory lectures in fundamental procedures are included.
Phlebotomy: Instruction in the theory of specimen procurement including patient identification, proper tube/anticoagulant selection, specimen transport, sample processing and more. Ample practice in venipunctures is provided throughout the program year. Students are required to perform procedures on and submit to venipunctures by instructors and fellow students.
Pathology/Histology: One-on-one personal experience with the laboratory pathologist(s) focusing on his/her role in the guidance and decisions of the laboratory and in the diagnosis of disease, including specimen gross examination, histological techniques, and double-scope slide examination in real-time diagnosis.
Etcetera Program: Lecture topics in management and supervision, laboratory operations, medical ethics, licensure and regulatory compliance, education methodologies, and more, culminate with the completion of a self-study research portfolio. The portfolio includes optional and required projects allowing a student to select his/her own project grade based on the number and quality of completed options. The multiple choices for optional projects include keeping a trouble-shooting journal, participating in proficiency testing, presenting a patient case study, providing laboratory or nursing in-service training, and more. The major required projects include the completion of a build-a-lab project entitled Laboratory Apprentice, and the completion a capstone research project involving a validation or parallel study (laboratory instrumentation-, kit- or procedure-based) or a quality assurance/improvement study culminating in a written and poster presentation of research results.
Graduation / Certificate of Completion
After successfully completing the program a graduate is awarded a Certificate of Completion and is ready to take a national registry examination to become certified as a Medical Laboratory Scientist.
Upon successful completion of the UPMC Chautauqua Medical Laboratory Science Program, grades earned are reported to the affiliated academic institution to fulfill degree/graduation requirements. Refer to the college catalog for the number of credits the college/university awards for the program year (most colleges award 30 to 32 credits).
The final course grade for each individual clinical course is determined from practical, academic, and attitudinal assessments in each discipline during both Rotation I: Didactic and Rotation II: Clinical, and from the final exam for each course.
Didactic Rotation Grade
Clinical Rotation Grade
Course Final Exam
Final Course Grade
The UPMC Chautauqua program utilizes the following grading scale. All grades reported to a student’s college/university are given in numerical values allowing each college to access its own letter grade and quality points according to its policy.
Rotation I exams, practicals
and overall Rotation I score
Rotation II rotation tests/quizzes
- Rotation II final exams and practicals
- Overall score for each Rotation II rotation
- Overall score for each internship course
93 – 100
90 – 92
87 – 89
83 – 86
80 – 82
77 – 79
70 – 76
93 – 100
90 – 92
87 – 89
83 – 86
80 – 82
77 – 79
70 – 76
A student must satisfy all of the following criteria in order to receive a Certificate of Completion from the UPMC Chautauqua Medical Laboratory Science Program. Receiving a Certificate of Completion is not dependent upon the student completing or passing any external certification or licensure examination.
- 75% (or above) overall in Rotation I: Didactic courses combined.
- 70% (or above) on the written FINAL EXAMINATION of each Rotation II: Clinical departmental rotation.
- 70% (or above) on the PRACTICAL EXAMINATION(S) of each Rotation II: Clinical departmental rotation.
- 70% (or above) in overall level of performance in each Rotation II: Clinical departmental rotation (quizzes, exams, evaluations, etc.).
- 70% (or above) overall in each Medical Laboratory Program course (see Curriculum and Course Description).
- Complete all aspects of academic courses and clinical rotations according to established criteria and policies.
- Be competent in all routine procedures and techniques and meet the established Career Entry-Level Competencies, further indicated by obtaining 70% (or above) on all cognitive, psychomotor and affective domain evaluation line items.
- Meet all financial obligations to UPMC Chautauqua and its Medical Laboratory Science Program.
A student who does not meet the Completion Criteria at anytime during the program year or performs at a level of competence inconsistent with the welfare of the patient will be placed on probation or may be immediately dismissed from the program.
Career Entry-Level Competencies
The UPMC Chautauqua Medical Laboratory Science Program is a quality preceptorship guiding its students to the following career entry-level competencies. The role of the professional Medical Laboratory Scientist demands knowledge and skills as a scientist and a keen awareness of his/her vital role in the health care team and in service to the patients.
The curriculum of the UPMC Chautauqua Medical Laboratory Science Program is designed, through the acquisition of knowledge and practical experience, to expect its graduate to obtain the following career entry-level competencies:
Demonstrate commitment to the role of the Medical Laboratory Scientist as part of the medical team by professional conduct and relationships to patients, peers, coworkers, supervisors and other members of the health care team.
- Demonstrate a professional attitude and conduct.
- Advocate the ethical and legal responsibilities of the laboratory and its personnel.
- Value his/her position in the health care team and exhibit empathy and understanding in the care of the patient.
- Maintain patient confidentiality at all times.
Demonstrate knowledge of biology, physiology, chemistry, and other vital sciences by being able to select, perform, and evaluate basic and complex automated and manual techniques according to norms of a quality control program.
- Demonstrate proficiency in the methodology of collection and handling of physiological specimens for evaluation by the laboratory.
- Apply the principles of clinical laboratory methodology by performing simple and complex procedures with precision and accuracy.
- Correlate principles of manual methods with those of automated methods when necessary in the practice of laboratory technology.
- Validate patient results, evaluating for possible errors and performing corrective action if necessary.
- Relate the effects of disease on the patient through the correlation of the basic sciences and the pathologic process and incorporate this knowledge into laboratory medicine.
- Evaluate data (test results) as they relate to normalcy and disease.
- Demonstrate the ability to organize and perform multiple procedures in routine and non routine (stressful) situations.
- Establish and monitor quality control systems utilizing statistical method.
- Follow governmental, hospital, laboratory and departmental safety guidelines and regulations.
Exhibit an ability to keep adequate and accurate records having a working knowledge of legal and ethical responsibilities toward privileged information, by proper handling and disposition of such information.
- Utilize the principles of effective communication in professional relations, both inside and outside the laboratory and between laboratory departments.
- Support teamwork among the members of the laboratory in both personal and professional arenas.
- Participate in the interaction of the laboratory with other units of the hospital.
- Exhibit care and compassion in direct and indirect contact with patients.
Demonstrate a practical knowledge of instrumentation by competent use, care, and minimal basic repair of all types of laboratory equipment. Utilize the laboratory information system for the reporting and manipulation of results.
- Demonstrate proficiency in the mathematical computation of laboratory methodology.
- Apply the principles of clinical laboratory instrumentation, including performance of preventative maintenance.
- Identify and solve technical problems relating to troubleshooting clinical laboratory instrumentation and/or methodology.
- Participate in the evaluation, recommendation and validation of new laboratory instrumentation and/or procedures.
- Record laboratory results accurately and timely, maintaining confidentiality as it pertains to laboratory policy.
- Utilize computer information system in the ordering, completing, reporting and querying of laboratory results, including providing patient results to qualified and eligible personnel.
Demonstrate through performance of class assignments, a working knowledge of the principles and practices involved in the administrative aspects of the hospital laboratory.
- Demonstrate knowledge of the principles and skills of management to effectively supervise a laboratory, its budget, equipment and personnel.
- Develop a quality assurance program to help guarantee excellence and continue improvements in a hospital laboratory.
- Utilizing management skills, identify an area within a laboratory for a potential problem or concern and formulate a potential solution.
- Evaluate the necessity and comply with the guidelines of the government and private regulatory and accrediting agencies.
Demonstrate the basic principles of education including the development of a lesson plan, measurable behavioral objectives, and student evaluation. Evaluate the professional organizations pertinent to the advancement of medical laboratory scientists and the importance of staff development and continuing education. Possess skills necessary for independent inquiry and research, including the means for verbal, written and audiovisual presentation of conclusions.
- Research and present pertinent educational information in an organized, practical manner, utilizing behavioral objectives and assessment tools. Tailor presentation to the audience’s knowledge level.
- Demonstrate the principles of laboratory research through identifying the study, obtaining data, trouble-shooting issues, performing appropriate statistical analysis, writing a scientific paper, performing an oral presentation, and supporting the laboratory in any changes due to the results of the research.
- Support and seek continuing education and professional development.