What is a good graduate program/route to take with a degree in Medical Laboratory Science?

After earning my BS degree in MLS I want to work in that field for 1-2 years and then go to grad school and earn a degree in something (preferably outside the lab) and be more challenged and hopefully make more money. Are there any good careers that are a step up from MLS but not in school forever (like MD...no thanks). I'm open to suggestions...hopefully from experience, Thanks!

1 Answer

  • 1 decade ago
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    There are many challenging careers within the field of Medical Laboratory Science. Blood Bank and microbiology, for example, require a lot of critical thinking "on your feet" and use more manual "hands on" approaches than do automated departments like chemistry and hematology. Also be aware that salaries for MLSs are on the rise as a result of a growing shortage of laboratory professionals and a trend towards increased standardization for field entry (the two major certifying bodies, ASCP and NCA, have recently merged and more states are moving toward licensure).

    MLSs can move up through specialization, going into laboratory management or direction, QA/QI coordination, LIS (Laboratory information system) analysis, and can also move into instrumentation sales/services, research and sometimes public health. In terms of medical laboratory science, the only position you could consider to be a step in between MLS and the Pathologist (MD) is the Pathologist assistant. This is usually a Master's program but used to be a post-baccalaureate program as with MLS so many pathologist assistants have a BS only. They assistant the pathologists with autopsies and gross anatomy analysis (cutting up and analyzing body parts from surgery) amongst other things. With an MS in a biological science you could get a good research position (research associate/scientist) and earn about as much as an MLS. Basically, you can move up in the MLS field as an MLS, or through an MD or PhD (being in "school forever") but there really isn't much inbetween.

    You mentioned wanting to move outside of the lab. Careers in health care that don't require 8+ years of school and are outside of the laboratory include Physician Assistants (Master's degree, $60K -$100K annually), Nurse Pracitioners (Bachelor's or Master's - $60K - $90K), Pharmacists (6 years - $80K - $120K), and Physical Therapists ($50K -$80K). But, most of these careers come with some kind of significant cost (heavy workloads, heavy overtime, having to be on-call, high stress, or fields that are saturated with unemployed workers). These careers are also unrelated to an MLS degree.

    Although laboratorians are under appreciated, under recognized, and often misunderstood and misrepresented, they are responsible for the vital laboratory derived data that 70 - 80% of medical decisions that are now based on. Without them, modern medicine would grind to a halt. MLSs make between $40K and $70K annually, are currently in short supply, and go through a significant amount of career preparation (the internship is pretty rigorous). It's a better stand alone career for those with scientific aptitude than it is a stepping stone to another career.

    Source(s): Medical Laboratory Scientist - Specialist in Microbiology, MLS(ASCP)SM
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