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School of Medical Technology/Medical Laboratory Science

Mission, Vision and Values
UPMC Altoona School of Medical Technology/Medical Laboratory Science is an accredited, 50-week internship program offering clinical theoretical concepts with clinical experience.

Mission Statement

The mission of UPMC Altoona School of Medical Technology/Medical Laboratory Science is to provide a quality program for directing students in acquiring the knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes and values necessary to be a successful Medical Laboratory Scientist. The Program is also committed to providing students with the resources necessary to pass certification examination as a Medical Laboratory Scientist.


The vision of UPMC Altoona School of Medical Technology/Medical Laboratory Science is to be a world-class program where we will provide an exceptional educational experience.


We at UPMC Altoona School of Medical Technology/Medical Laboratory Science show compassion, care and concern for our patients. We respect the dignity of each individual. We provide quality care to those we serve, and we respect the culture, beliefs and needs of those we serve.

Introduction to The Profession
There are two questions that are inevitably asked when a laboratorian is questioned as to his profession, and they are: "Medical Technologist (Medical Laboratory Scientist), sounds good, but what do you DO and, "Are you one of those vampires who draws the blood?"

A deeper look into the general public's lack of awareness of the Medical Technologist's role in the care and treatment of the sick makes it somewhat easier to understand. When a patient is admitted into the hospital, he is surrounded by health care professionals to whom his well being is their primary concern: dedicated nurses see to his every need, from blood pressures in the morning to pain medication at night; physicians visit him regularly to see his recovery and recuperation; dietitians insure that his food is nourishing and appetizing; even paramedical professionals such as respiratory therapy, point of care providers and environmental services are part and parcel of the patient's everyday life when confined to the hospital.

And then there's the Lab. Generally, the sole contact that the patient has with the laboratory is some person in a white coat coming at them with a needle. The phlebotomists constitutes the patient's only awareness of the fact that the hospital has a laboratory at all and this knowledge, coupled with the reply, " We haven't gotten the lab tests back yet," to his frantic questions concerning his condition, does not make for a particularly good public relations.

The following, then is an endeavor to explain, both to the public and to the prospective student, precisely who and what a Medical Technologist (Medical Laboratory Scientist) is, and what his function is in the diagnosis of disease.

Many definitions have been proposed for the term, Medical Technologist (Medical Laboratory Scientist). Perhaps the best is attributed to a Medical Technologist named Fagelson, who added an important dimension to the profession when she defined Medical Technology as "that branch of medicine concerned with the performance of the laboratory determinations and analyses used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and the "MAINTENANCE OF HEALTH."

A Medical Laboratory Scientist performs the full range of laboratory test from routine to the most complex with little or no supervision. As medical investigators, they are responsible for the operation of an array of complex electronic equipment, computers and precision instruments costing millions of dollars. These individuals are trained to work in the following areas of the laboratory: Clinical Chemistry, Hematology, Coagulation, Immunohematology (Blood Bank), Microbiology, Immunology, Urinalysis and Phlebotomy.

A Medical Laboratory Scientist may choose to work in one of the specialty areas or to work as a generalist covering all areas. Some clinical laboratory scientists prefer to work "at the bench" and directly perform clinical analysis. Others combine skills and interests to create a career suited to their particular goals.

Educational Preparation/Application Requirements
Education preparation for clinical laboratory science begins with a high school curriculum strongly based in sciences. Courses that will be beneficial include general science, biology, chemistry, computer science and mathematics.

The clinical internship year provides the theoretical and clinical training for students that meet all pre-clinical requirements. The hospital based internship is a 3 + 1 program that leads to a Bachelor of Science Degree in Medical Technology (Medical Laboratory Science). The three years pre-clinical (90 semester hour minimum) of college work at an accredited college/university must include:
  • Sixteen semester hours of Biology, including a course in Microbiology or bacteriology, which is acceptable toward a degree in Biology.
  • Sixteen semester hours of Chemistry, including a course in Biochemistry and/or Organic Chemistry, which is acceptable toward a degree in chemistry.
  • A minimum of one semester of college mathematics.
  • An approved course in Immunology.
  • Recommended, but not required, are courses in Genetics, Physics, Statistics, Molecular Biology, Anatomy, Physiology and Computer Science.
  • A college/university grade point average of not less than 2.5 overall and a grade point average of not less than 2.5 in the sciences. Students with a 3.0 or greater in their Science GPA will be given preference.
  • Acceptable transcript evaluation by the College/University (if applicable).


    These Technical Performance Standards/Essential Functions represent the non-academic requirements that students must possess, with or without a reasonable accommodation to successfully participate in the Altoona Regional Health System hospital based program. Applicants MUST be able to affirm their ability to comply with the following:

    Manual Dexterity:

    Possess the gross/fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination to safely manipulate, maneuver, adjust, control and/or use:
    • Chemicals
    • Specimens
    • Phlebotomy/culture equipment
    • Laboratory equipment/instruments
    • Computers, including keyboard and mouse
    • Collect valid laboratory specimens from patients

    a. Characterize the color, clarity and viscosity of biological specimens, reagents, or chemical reaction products.
    b. Discriminate color, shading and fine structural differences of microscopic specimens using a clinical grade binocular microscope.
    c. Read text, numbers and graphs displayed in print and using laboratory technology.
    d. Judge distance and depth accurately.


    a. Possess the physical, mental and emotional health to function effectively during an 8-hour day under the stressful conditions of technical malfunctions, time constraints and a distracting environment.
    b. Move freely and safely around the laboratory and hospital facilities.
    c. Possess normal, corrected or aid-able hearing.
    d. Posses the ability to:
    • bend, stoop, stand and lift 20 pounds
    • grasp with one or both hands
    • reach laboratory bench tops, shelves and patients lying in beds or seated in a specimen collection chair
    • perform moderately taxing and repetitive tasks, often requiring prolonged standing/sitting over several hours

    a. Possess the ability to be independent, flexible, creative and adaptable to change.
    b. Possess the willingness to work with sharp objects, hazardous chemicals and infectious/biohazardous materials.
    c. Recognize potentially hazardous materials, equipment and situations.
    • Able to proceed safely in order to minimize risk of injury to patients, self and co-workers.
    d. Demonstrate honest, compassionate, ethical and responsible conduct in all actions.
    • Straightforward about error or uncertainty.
    e. Promote a team approach to learning, task completion, problem solving and patient care.
    • Support and advance the activities of fellow students and health care professionals.

    a. Apply complex thought processes to problem solving, troubleshooting and exercising sound judgment.
    b. Use reasonable judgment in stressful conditions to recognize and correct performance deviations.
    c. Prioritize and perform tasks productively, accurately and within a realistic time allowance with and without direct supervision as required.

    Communication (All verbal/written communications are in English as the primary language.)

    a. Follow verbal and written instructions.
    b. Read and comprehend text, numbers and graphs in professional and technical materials, e.g., textbooks, journals, instructional technology, Internet and procedure manuals.
    c. Independently prepare papers, reports or posters.
    d. Deliver oral presentations to fellow students and health care professionals.
    e. Take paper, oral, computer and laboratory practical examinations at the post- secondary level.
    f. Interact and communicate effectively and confidentially with all patients, hospital staff, administrators and co-workers.
    g. Effectively use computer software, instructional technology and the Internet for communication, education and professional purposes.

    College/University Affiliations
    The UPMC Altoona School of Medical Technology/Medical Laboratory Science is affiliated with seven institutions of higher learning. They include:
    1. Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Clarion, PA
    2. Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA
    3. Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, Lock Haven, PA
    4. Seton Hill College, Greensburg, PA
    5. Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Shippensburg, PA
    6. Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, Slippery Rock, PA
    7. Saint Francis University, Loretto, PA

    The hospital embraces a 3 + 1 program, in which students spend the first three years of their college careers at an accredited institution in a Medical Technology (Medical Laboratory Science) curriculum. Their fourth year (senior year) is spent doing a clinical internship. College credit for this senior year is assigned by the institution granting the degree upon successful completion of the internship year, and is sufficient to guarantee a baccalaureate degree in Medical Technology (Medical Laboratory Science). Individuals who have already earned a degree in Biology, Chemistry or some other related science are also considered for admission to the program. These students are generally considered 4 + 1.

    Students at affiliated institutions are given priority over those student applicants from non-affiliated schools. Admission of a student from a non-affiliated school will not result in the exclusion of a qualified student from an affiliated program.

    The UPMC Altoona School of Medical Technology/Medical Laboratory Science is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), 5600 N. River Road, Suite 720, Rosemont, IL 60018, (773) 714-8880.

    The Laboratory and its sundry sections are accredited by:

    The College of American Pathologist
    The Joint Commission of Accreditation of Hospital Organizations
    The American Association of Blood Banks
    The Federal Drug Administration
    The Pennsylvania State Department of Health

    Licensure and Certification
    Graduates from the UPMC Altoona School of Medical Technology/Medical Laboratory Science are eligible to apply to take a certification examination. Individuals certified by the Board of Certification of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists are recognized as professional technologists by the designation MLS(ASCP) after their names.

    Program of Study
    The clinical internship at UPMC Altoona begins on or about July 1 each year and runs continuous for 50 weeks. Orientation is held the first week of class. General schedule during the internship year is Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lectures are held Monday and Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. The clinical rotations are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    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, problem solving, instrumentation, point of care, safety, quality control and quality assurance for the courses listed below.

    AH 402 Clinical Chemistry - 8 Credits
    Includes the theory and operation of the major classes of instrumentation, the theory and application of the biochemistry, fundamental analytical principles, laboratory calculations, case histories, Enzymology, molecular diagnostics, endocrinology, lipids and lipoproteins, carbohydrates, proteins, tumor markers, electrolytes, ABG's, point of care testing, toxicology, liver function, quality control and quality assurance.

    AH 404 Anatomy and Physiology of the Renal System - 2 Credits
    Includes renal pathology, routine physical, and chemical tests, sediment examination, and correlation of test results, case histories; also includes examination of other body fluids, feces and quality control.

    AH 405 Bacteriology - 6 Credits
    Includes morphology, cultural characteristics, case histories, secondary identification, specimen collection, and interpretation of results of gram positive and gram negative cocci, gram positive aerobic and anaerobic rods, enteric and other gram negative rods, mycobacterium, and miscellaneous organisms; also includes media preparation and reagents, quality control, antibiotics and sensitivity testing, epidemiology and viruses.

    AH 406 Immunohematology (Blood Bank) - 4 Credits
    Blood antigens and antibodies; crossmatching; hemolytic diseases and related diagnostic tests. Also included are donor selection, processing of blood, blood collection, preparation and administration of blood and blood products, case studies, quality control and other general immunohematoloy considerations.

    AH 407 Hematology/Coagulation - 6 Credits
    Includes the formation, function, enumerative procedures, basic tests, normal and abnormal peripheral blood and bone marrow for the formed elements of the blood, case studies, pathologic states; also includes coagulation theory, special testing and quality control.

    AH 409 Medical Parasitology - 1 Credit
    Includes the morphology, life cycles, source and collection of specimens, pathological states, various types of parasitic organisms and quality control.

    AH 411 Immunoserology - 2 Credits
    Includes discussion of natural immunity and immunologic substances, antigen and antibodies, humoral and cellular immunity, complement, autoimmunity, and delayed hypersensitivity; also includes serologic testing for syphilis, non-syphilitic serodiagnostic tests, case studies and quality control.

    AH 422 Medical Mycology - 1 Credit
    Includes morphology, cultural characteristics, secondary identification, specimen collection, and interpretation of results for yeast, molds yeast like molds, and quality control.

    AH 424 Education in Clinical Laboratory Science - 1 Credit
    Includes job entry indoctrination, continuing education for laboratory employees, interdepartmental rotation, inservice education and effective mechanisms of teaching.

    AH 425 Laboratory Management and Supervision - I Credit
    Includes discussions of 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. Also includes phlebotomy. The primary function of the phlebotomist is to assist the health care team in accurate, safe and reliable collection and transportation of specimens for clinical laboratory analysis.

    Consumer Information Disclosure:

    In December 1989, federal regulations were instituted that require all post-secondary institutions to provide all incoming students consumer information reflecting graduation, placement rates, and licensure information in the career program being pursued by the student.

    In an effort to comply with these regulations, the UPMC Altoona School of Medical Technology/Medical Laboratory Science is providing the following information based on its most recent graduate follow-up statistics.

    Graduation, Certification, and Placement rates of students are as follows:
    School/Internship Year Number of Students Starting Program Number of Students Graduating (%) Number of Students Passing Certification Exam (%) Number of Students Employed in the Profession After Graduation (%)
    2011-2012 4 4 (100%) 4 (100%) 4 (100%)
    2012-2013 4 4 (100%) 4 (100%) 4 (100%)
    2013-2014 5 5 (100%) 5 (100%) 5 (100%)
    2014-2015 6 6 (100%) 6 (100%) 6 (100%)

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