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July 29, 2011

May 2011 Medical Lab Sciences graduates earn perfect pass rate on recent certification exam

Here's some interesting statistics.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, some 10,000 new laboratory scientists and technicians are needed every year for the next 10 years to satisfy the demand for the roughly 70 percent of diagnostic decisions that are made year-round using lab results.

Another compelling statistic?

May 2011 graduates of the University of Louisiana at Monroe Medical Laboratory Science program earned a pass rate of 100 percent among first-time test takers of the American Society of Clinical Pathology Board of Certification exam for Medical Laboratory Scientists.

That means that these graduates are not only a vital link in the healthcare setting, but also a highly proficient member of the healthcare team, since medical laboratory scientists perform a full range of laboratory tests from the routine to the most complex, with little or no supervision.

The national average for the first-time pass rate on the ASCP-BOC exam for all National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences accredited programs is 84 percent, according to ULM Medical Laboratory Science Department Head Debbie Wisenor.

Wisenor said several features in the ULM curriculum may contribute to student success when taking the exam.

"Our curriculum is designed so that students receive extensive didactic and student laboratory preparation in the major disciplines of laboratory medicine during their junior year, their first year in the professional program," Wisenor said.

"While in the practicum rotations during year two of the professional program, our students receive one-on-one instruction from experienced Medical Laboratory Science professionals."

In addition, MLS students rotate to different types of medical laboratories off campus, including a traditional large hospital laboratory, smaller clinic and rural hospital laboratory, and a reference laboratory, according to Wisenor

Students also rotate through a practicum at LifeShare Blood Center's Reference Laboratory in Shreveport.

"This rotation is unique to the ULM MLS program and gives the students hands-on experience with advanced transfusion medicine procedures," said Wisenor.

Each Friday, the MLS students are back on-campus for review and comprehensive exams, all of which facilitate preparation of the students for the certification exam.

"Because the MLS students receive training in diverse laboratory settings, they are very well prepared for entry level into the workplace," Wisenor said.

The ULM MLS program is a 2+2 professional program consisting of two years of core and pre-requisite courses and two years of medical laboratory science courses, according to Wisenor, and is accredited with the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

The ASCP Board of Certification exam is comprised of questions from categories including hematology, immunology, microbiology, clinical chemistry, immunohematology, immunology, molecular pathology, urinalysis, body fluids, and laboratory operations, according to Wisenor.

The Board of Certification of the American Society of Clinical Pathology serves as the largest and oldest pathology and laboratory medicine society and as the gold standard in certification for laboratory professionals, as it strives to ensure an adequate and competent workforce to protect public health and advocate for increased communication with program directors regarding certification and its maintenance through continuing education.

Medical Laboratory Scientists provide objective data used to make clinical decisions by the laboratory analyses they perform and evaluate.

Medical Laboratory Scientists may pursue diverse career paths including those in hospital laboratories, clinics, research, public health, reference laboratories, forensic laboratories, and educational institutions.

For more information on the MLS program at ULM, visit, or contact Wisenor at 318-342-1637 or

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