Medical Laboratory Science Program

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Program Overview: Medical Laboratory Science Program

The Inova Fairfax Hospital School of Medical Laboratory Science is a division of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. Established in 1963, we pride ourselves in graduating highly qualified medical laboratory scientists who are competent to enter the laboratory profession. Our staff includes dedicated and experienced clinical instructors, laboratory scientists, physicians, and administrators, all of whom participate in the education of our students. The Inova Fairfax Hospital School of Medical Laboratory Science is fully accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) and is certified to operate by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

The Inova Fairfax Hospital Medical Laboratory Science program is a highly competitive, 11-month-long program consisting of over 1,700 clock hours of instruction. The program is intended to qualify its graduates to take the national certification examination given by the American Society for Clinical Pathology in pursuit of the MLS (ASCP) certification. We enroll 4-6 students each year.

Our program is open to both:

  • Current university students enrolled in a qualifying medical technology, medical laboratory science or clinical lab science program who will attend our program full-time to complete the final year of their degree (3+1 option)
  • Those who have already earned an approved Bachelor's degree and wish to pursue the MLS certification (4+1 option)

During their clinical year of training, students are trained as generalists and rotate through all sections of the laboratory including immunohematology, chemistry, hemostasis and thrombosis, hematology, immunology, microbiology and urinalysis & body fluids. The rotations include lectures and practical instructions.

The program schedule is Monday through Friday and starts in August of every year. Students attend lectures and clinical rotations daily. Hours vary, but are typically 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students receive days off for holidays and breaks.

About Inova

Inova is a not-for-profit healthcare system based in Northern Virginia that serves more than 2 million people each year from throughout the Washington, DC metro area and beyond. Inova is a comprehensive network of hospitals, outpatient services and facilities, primary and specialty care practices, and health and wellness initiatives. Inova's five hospitals include more than 1,700 licensed beds and 16,000 employees and encompass a full array of health services.

At Inova Fairfax Hospital, Inova's flagship hospital, students gain the experience of studying at a world-class medical center. The location affords students the opportunity to work with an ethnically and culturally diverse patient population, committed medical staff and a full scope of patient care services. The Inova Campus is dedicated to providing students with a high-quality education.

All five of Inova's hospitals have been recognized with regional and national achievement by U.S. News & World Report in at least one specialty or common core ranking. Inova Fairfax Hospital has been recognized by U.S. News as a nationally ranked Best Hospital, ranked #1 in the Washington, DC metro area (four years running) and #3 in the state of Virginia.

About the Medical Laboratory Science profession

Medical laboratory scientists play a vital role in the care provided to our patients. Medical laboratory scientists are highly skilled medical professionals that develop, perform and troubleshoot the assays and methods for analysis of blood, tissue and body fluids in diagnostic laboratories. Working with blood samples and other body fluids and tissues, a medical laboratory scientist performs a broad range of complex, quantitative lab tests, from biological screening to molecular analysis.

According to experts, approximately 70 percent of the objective information that physicians and other healthcare providers use to make medical decisions comes from the clinical laboratory. Laboratory testing is used for diagnosis, prognosis or risk determination, and monitoring ongoing treatment. Specialty areas of laboratory medicine include clinical chemistry, hematology, transfusion services, clinical immunology, clinical microbiology and the emerging field of molecular diagnostics.

Medical laboratory science is a fast-growing field, and there is a great demand for medical laboratory scientists. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the field is growing much faster than the national average. Approximately two-thirds of all medical laboratory scientists are employed in hospital laboratories. Most others are employed in private laboratories, physician offices, clinics, the armed forces, local, state and federal health agencies, industrial medical laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, and in numerous public and private research programs dedicated to the study of specific diseases.