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Medical laboratory technicians with an associate degree can apply for a new online program at the University of West Florida to earn a bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory sciences.
The Medical Laboratory Technician to Medical Laboratory Scientist, or MLT to MLS, program, will be offered through Complete Florida, a state-funded initiative that supports adults who return to college.
The program is the first of its kind in the state of Florida. Applications to the program will be accepted through June 15. Classes will begin Aug. 27.
To be eligible for the program, students must be admitted to UWF, submit letters of recommendation and participate in a phone interview. Applicants are required to have an associate of science degree in medical laboratory technology that includes the prerequisites of the MLS program and fulfillment of general education coursework or military training and an associate of arts degree that includes the prerequisites of the MLS program and fulfillment of general education coursework. In addition, they must also have a GPA of 2.5 or higher and certification as an MLT by the American Society of Clinical Pathology or be a graduate of a National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science accredited MLT program and certified by a national board exam.
Katie Cavnar, the incoming chair of the Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences at UWF, said earning a degree to become a medical laboratory scientist has a variety of benefits.
“In the hospital, both medical laboratory scientists and medical laboratory technicians do similar work, but the MLS learn more theory,” she said. “MLTs also have to work supervised, whereas an MLS does not. Going on to get your MLS is beneficial for a couple of reasons, including an increase in pay, and an increase in responsibility, which may allow for promotion in the laboratory.”
The online program will be similar to the traditional MLS classes offered at UWF, but geared more toward students who have already worked in a lab.
As the only online MLT to MLS program in the state, Cavnar said this will meet workforce needs in Northwest Florida and beyond.
“We can hopefully serve this area,” Cavnar said. “Laboratories are generally understaffed so there’s a need for people in our profession. Many people in the laboratory field are starting to retire all at once and labs are losing expertise. We thought it be a good idea to launch an MLT to MLS program here where the tuition is affordable.”
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