MLS teamCurriculum

The Inova Fairfax Hospital School of Medical Laboratory Science is a full-time, 11-month training program. The program begins mid-August each year and ends in mid-July of the following year. Orientation is held the first week of class. The instructional time is equivalent to more than 1,700 clock hours or 38 semester credit hours. Credit hours can vary depending on the affiliated university.

The medical laboratory science student will study the clinical and diagnostic aspects along with case studies, pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical components of laboratory services. The curriculum is designed to give the students a thorough background in the performance, interpretation, and application of medical laboratory procedures with emphasis placed on correlation of test results with pathologic conditions of patients. They will also be exposed to problem solving, instrumentation, point of care, safety, quality control and quality assurance for the courses listed below. The program consists of courses containing didactic lectures and supervised clinical rotations in the clinical laboratories of chemistry, hematology, immunohematology, immunology, microbiology, coagulation, urinalysis, lab operations and phlebotomy.

In order to graduate from Inova Fairfax Hospital School of Medical Laboratory Science and to qualify to take the ASCP National Board of Certification examination, the requirements are as follows:

Course Descriptions

  • MT 401 Orientation to the Problems and Practices of the Clinical Laboratory
    Orientation to the clinical laboratory includes lectures and demonstration on principles of venipuncture. Lectures emphasize theory regarding blood collection procedures, and laboratory sessions introduce basic techniques for the collection of blood samples including venipuncture and capillary puncture. Clinical internship consists of supervised practice in the collection of blood samples. Emphasis is placed on professional conduct, adherence to safety regulations and policies.

    Laboratory operations includes: discussions of quality control, budgeting, personnel, laboratory space, supplies and equipment, concepts and principals of laboratory operations, general principles of federal and state regulations, laboratory safety, laboratory and hospital information system, ethics and medical/legal matters. Basic laboratory techniques such as pipetting, microscopy, and laboratory mathematics are also included.

  • MT 402 Clinical Hematology and Coagulation
    Course involves the study of maturation, morphology and function of blood cells and their role in disease processes. Emphasis is placed on both manual and automated laboratory procedures, blood cell identification, and the relationship of cells with specific diseases such as anemia, leukemia, lymphomas and reactive processes. As part of Hematology, the basic principles and applications of flow cytometry is included.

    This course also covers the mechanisms involved in the coagulation system, including platelet function, coagulation factors, and fibrinolytic system. Bleeding and clotting disorders as well as treatment modalities are discussed. Laboratory evaluation of the hemostatic process and the correlation of laboratory findings with disease states will be emphasized.

  • MT 403 Clinical Microscopy
    This course of study covers the physical, chemical and microscopic analysis of urine. Renal function, disease states, and the physiology and clinical analysis of CSF and other body fluids are also covered. Emphasis is placed on laboratory procedures, morphological findings and the correlation of test results to disease states.

  • MT 404 Immunohematology
    Topics of study include genetics and biology of red cell antigen systems, ABO/Rh blood typing, antibody screening and identification, compatibility testing and solving compatibility problems, transfusion reactions, donor requirements, preparation of blood components for transfusion, quality and inventory control, instrumentation, and current practices in component preparation. Additionally, hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn, HLA blood group system, and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation are also addressed.

  • MT 405 Clinical Microbiology
    This course looks at pathogenic bacteria, mycobacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi of humans in relation to pathogenesis, epidemiology, clinical manifestations, infectious diseases and antimicrobial agents. Practical laboratory instruction include specimen collection; handling and transport; media composition and utilization; culture, isolation and identification methods; and automation, quality control methods and laboratory safety.

  • MT 406 Clinical Chemistry
    Study of the biochemical constituents of body fluids, their physiological functions and alterations in disease states. Emphasis is placed on the analytical methods of the laboratory. This includes the study of the principles, operation and maintenance of laboratory instrumentation, the use of computer technology, quality control and quality assurance tools.

  • MLS 407 Immunology/Serology
    Topics of study include antigen/antibody structure, function and interaction as they relate to serologic diagnosis. The course explores the human immune system in relation to immunophysiology, hypersensitivity, immunochemistry, immunities to infectious agents, disorders of the immune system, and clinical applications. The course also provides principles of current clinical techniques, methodologies and instrumentation, result interpretation and clinical applications.

Enrichment-Observation Experience

This enrichment-observation experience is a 3 week rotation at the facilities of Quest Diagnostics Nichols Institute. Students will observe specialized testing in the reference laboratory of Quest Diagnostics. This is a unique and challenging experience which includes rotations in Immunology, Molecular Genetics, Molecular Infectious, Immunoassay/RIA, Immunology and Serology, Mycology, Parasitology, Special Chemistry, Cytogenetics, and Toxicology laboratories.

The experience also includes a 1 week rotation at the Inova Blood Donor Center. This unique rotation introduces students to the essentials of blood donor collection and processing. Students will learn the basic procedures of the blood draw and discuss the various types of collections. From there, the students will discuss and observe FDA biologics regulations, the importance of confidentiality, blood collection laboratory analytical factors, safety and handling of blood products during manufacturing, and distribution of the final product.

Student Project

The student project allows students to apply the knowledge gained throughout the program through the completion of an independent study, mentored project. On the job, a medical laboratory scientist is expected to be able to improve old methods and to evaluate and implement new methods. These on-the-job assignments might range from reorganization of the workload in a department in a management role to setting up new test procedures.

The purpose for the student project is to provide the student with:

  • Experience in evaluating the need for change by means of the research involved in getting the project approved through a project proposal
  • Experience in the actual process of reorganization or setting up new procedures. New procedures provide students with working experience in Quality Control, cost analysis, statistics, establishment of normal values and other areas that the medical laboratory scientist are asked to evaluate in the laboratory
  • Whether or not the laboratory adopts the project results, neither adds nor detracts from the validity of the project. The purpose of the project is to provide a learning experience for the student, not a service to the laboratory
  • Completion of this program and permission to sit for the Board of Certification examination is contingent upon completion and presentation of the student project