This handbook contains information for students in Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s Medical Laboratory Science Program.
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Philosophy and Goals
Hershey Medical Center
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center was founded in 1963 through a gift from The Milton S. Hershey Foundation, and is one of the leading teaching and research hospitals in the country.
As a leading university health center in central Pennsylvania, its vision is to utilize its resources to be the “Best at Improving Health,” which means being focused on the patient as the purpose for being. The medical center is committed to producing the highest-quality, best-trained health care professionals available, prepared to exceed the rate of change in the marketplace and deliver collaborative care as a part of a team. Health care team members must understand the need to attract and maintain a healthy population and the plan of care that will most benefit those they serve. The 548-bed Hershey Medical Center is an acute care facility, accredited by the Joint Commission and licensed by The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The Department of Pathology laboratory is College of American Pathologists-accredited and licensed by The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health. The Blood Bank is additionally accredited by AABB and the Food and Drug Administration. The Histocompatibility Laboratory is accredited by the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics. The Hematopoietic Cell Therapy Laboratory is accredited by Food and Drug Administration, and, as part of the medical center’s bone marrow transplant program, is accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation for Cell Therapy. The laboratory has a pathology residency program and fellowships in blood banking/transfusion medicine, dermatopathology, hematopathology and surgical pathology, which are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
The laboratory is a fully computerized, progressive laboratory that performs more than two million billable tests annually.
The Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) Program is sponsored by the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and functions within the Division of Clinical Pathology in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Its support is a part of a commitment to provide health care and education to the community. Hospital and laboratory administration support the program by providing personnel and resources to educate students.
The program accepts 10 students annually, with training at Penn State Health facilities. Students complete 24 weeks of didactic and student lab instruction, followed by 20 weeks of rotations in routine and specialty laboratories within Clinical Pathology.
Penn State Health’s Medical Laboratory Science Program has the responsibility to:
- Prepare individuals for the practice of medical laboratory science
- Provide qualified laboratory professionals for Penn State Health’s needs, as well as regional, national and global needs
- Develop in its students an appreciation for professionalism, leadership skills and commitment to life- long learning, and responsibility for providing high-quality care and service to our patients and community
- Promote the values of respect for others, integrity, teamwork and excellence
To achieve its mission, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s Medical Laboratory Science Program strives to:
- Maintain accreditation under the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science.
- Provide state-of-the-art technology and a stimulating atmosphere for educational experiences relevant and appropriate to medical laboratory science for its students.
- Immerse students in the day-to-day responsibilities of laboratory practitioners committed to the mission, vision and values of Penn State Health.
- Provide a quality-driven curriculum based on current needs and latest testing methodologies and technological advances, including all aspects of clinical laboratory operations and management.
- Share information, provide resources and create a consistent training program to build stronger teams, and create a culture that cultivates stable and sustainable relationships within our health care systems and beyond.
- Help meet the demand for competent practitioners in a variety of laboratory settings and venues.
- Share expertise around the globe (global health).
- Help students learn new skills, and seek out and share knowledge to promote teamwork in the health care setting and surrounding community.
- Provide the community with laboratory practitioners who have a comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of clinical laboratory operation and management.
- Prepare graduates for successful certification and/or licensure in medical laboratory science.
- Encourage students to constantly seek opportunities for personal and professional growth to enable success in career entry-level positions, as well as their professional development into well-trained, highly skilled laboratory scientists, with the potential for higher-level health care positions, including the pursuit of advanced degrees to meet their career goals.
- Broaden community awareness of the medical laboratory science profession and its vital role in providing the best quality care for patients and improving the health of the community.
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is committed to enhancing the quality of life through improved health, the professional preparation of those who will serve the health needs of others and the discovery of knowledge that will benefit all.
The vision at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is to achieve excellence through the integration of education, research, patient care and service to the community – “Inspiring Innovation to be the Best at Improving Health.”
The medical center strives to uphold its “RITE” core values, epitomized by the following actions:
Be compassionate, thoughtful, considerate and kind.
Be the best you can be, every time; be consistent and fair.
Commit to work together to ensure the best experience for coworkers, patients and trainees.
Align performance with mission, vision, values and strategic imperatives; set personal goals that exceed expectations.
- Achieve the highest level of quality, safety and value.
- Educate and invest in creating a diverse and inclusive work force that strives for personal and professional success.
- Create an extraordinary patient experience.
- Create innovation through research.
- Develop and differentiate the regional integrated university health care system.
Program Officials and Faculty
This schedule for the 2023-2024 academic year is tentative and subject to change with one week’s notice.
- June 5, 2023: Program orientation; Phase One begins
- June 28, 2023: Phase One didactic lecture schedule begins
- July 3 to July 7, 2023: Time off – Fourth of July week break
- Sept. 4, 2023: Time off – Labor Day holiday
- Nov. 23 and 24, 2023: Time off – Thanksgiving holiday
- Nov. 27, 2023: Phase Two clinical rotations begin
- Two weeks TBD: Time off – Winter break
- Jan. 15,2024: Time off- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- One week in March TBD: Time off – Spring break
- April 22 to 26, 2024: Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Week
- April 29, 2024: Comprehensive exam
- May 3, 2024: Graduation
The Medical Laboratory Science Program at Penn State Health is affiliated with Penn State, Lebanon Valley College, Moravian University, Shippensburg University, York College of Pennsylvania, Immaculata University and Saint Joseph’s University (formerly University of the Sciences).
Upon successful completion of the program, undergraduate students are granted a baccalaureate degree from their affiliated college or university and receive a certification of completion from Penn State Health. Postgraduate students will receive a certificate of completion from the hospital.
Students are then eligible to take a national certification exam in Medical Laboratory Science, offered by the Board of Certification (American Society for Clinical Pathology). In states with licensure, students are then eligible to apply for licensure. Issuing of the baccalaureate degree or the certificate of completion is not dependent on successful certification or licensure.
Policies and Procedures
- Students are provided an electronic copy of the student handbook before the first day of class and a hard copy on the first day of class. Policies and procedures will be reviewed and discussed on the first day.
- Students must sign a Student Handbook Acknowledgement Form, indicating they have reviewed and understand all policies contained in the handbook.
- Handbooks are revised annually or as needed.
- Policy revisions will be reviewed by faculty members and enrolled students. Review of all policy revisions must be documented.
- Policies and procedures are accessible online for prospective and enrolled students.
- Students who do not follow the program’s policies and procedures will be counseled and a remediation plan (academic and/or behavioral) will be developed. Actions will be documented and performance monitored. A written notice will be provided, placing the student on probation if progress is not satisfactory. Termination may be necessary if sufficient progress is not made to correct the deficiency or if additional violations of policies occur. University advisers/liaisons will be notified of such actions.
- Termination may occur at the first occurrence if the offense is severe. The program may immediately remove a student when the student poses an imminent threat to patient safety or welfare, or to the best interests of the program or Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s operations. Termination may be recommended by any faculty member and is subject to review by the program director and MLS advisory committee.
Admission to the program is determined by an Admissions Committee, which will offer admission to those students whose academic performance, recommendations by references and attributes in the affective domain indicate the highest probability of success.
The committee uses a system based on the cumulative grade-point average, the science GPA, college affiliation, reference letters and an interview rating by the committee to evaluate and rank applications.
Students from academic affiliates of the program will receive preference in case of equal rankings.
Applicants for admission to the program will receive equal consideration regardless of race, color, religious or sexual preference, ethnic or national origin, age or sex based on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other applicable laws.
The Medical Laboratory Science program admits 10 students per year.
The Admissions Committee is composed of a minimum of five members: the program director, student lab instructor, two to four clinical laboratory supervisors and up to two medical laboratory scientist staff members.
Recommended Criteria for Admission to the Program
Recommended Prerequisite Curriculum
Ability to Meet Essential Functions of the Program
- Applicants must meet the requirements set forth in the prerequisites for admission to the program to be considered eligible for admission.
- Application is recommended 10 to 13 months prior to the June starting date.
- Individuals desiring admission into the program must submit an application, including a personal statement and evaluations or letters of support from two references, as well as a recent official transcript. As part of the application process, students must read and sign off that they have read and understand these functional expectations. A student must meet these expectations without or with reasonable accommodations. The application fee must be received before application review can be completed. Applicants who meet criteria will be invited for an interview by email from a program official.
- Applicants must respond to the invitation by email to schedule an interview. On the day of the interview, the applicant will meet with at least four members of the Admissions Committee. Following the interview, each applicant is also given a tour of the student classroom, student laboratory and the clinical pathology laboratories. Tuition costs and pre-matriculation testing requirements will be discussed with the applicant.
- Applicants will be notified in writing of acceptance to the MLS program.
- Applicants must accept or reject the offer of a position in the MLS class in writing to the program director within two weeks after the offer is received. Acceptance is confirmed once the acceptance fee has been received.
- A final transcript must be submitted by the student to the program.
- Note: Should the student meet entrance requirements at time of selection, but fall below the GPA requirement in subsequent semesters, the student’s record will be re-evaluated by the Admissions Committee, and the student may be placed on probation, if deemed necessary.
- Information pertaining to program starting date and pre-matriculation requirements will be sent to accepted applicants at least three months in advance of the starting date.
- Students are required to undergo pre-placement health screening. This screening includes PPD testing, health history, immunization compliance and drug screen. Criminal background checks will be performed prior to admitting any student to the program. A student who fails the drug screen or criminal background check will not be allowed to enter the program. The cost of the above screenings and checks are at the student’s expense. Penn State Health is a smoke-free environment.
- Detailed information about orientation, textbooks and student handbook will be sent to students electronically, no later than two weeks prior to the starting date.
- Students will undergo a color-blindness test upon entering the program.
- A passing grade in each section must be achieved before recommendation to a certifying examination will be granted by the program.
- Minimum passing grade is 70 percent in each area of didactic instruction and 80 percent in each area of practical instruction.
- Lecture grades for each section are determined by written examinations.
- Laboratory grades for each section are determined by practical examinations, unknowns, written examinations and evaluation by instructors.
- If an exam is not taken on the scheduled day, the exam grade will be decreased by 10 points (one letter value) unless a doctor’s note is provided.
- The final course grade is made up of 50 percent laboratory grade and 50 percent lecture grade unless otherwise stated or required by the student’s college or university.
- Advanced placement is not a policy of this program.
- A: 100 percent to 90 percent
- B+: Less than 90 percent to 87 percent
- B: Less than 87 percent to 80 percent
- C+: Less than 80 percent to 77 percent
- C: Less than 77 percent to 70 percent
- D: Less than 70 percent to 60 percent
- F: Less than 60%
- Transcripts sent to the student’s college or university at the conclusion of the hospital program reflect the credit hours and letter grade as set by the university.
- Successful completion of the program and conferring of a Program certificate is contingent upon completion of a capstone project and passing a comprehensive exam given the last week of the program. If on first attempt of the exam a student does not receive a passing grade (greater than 70 percent), the student will be permitted to review missed questions, complete all indicated remediation of applicable subjects and take additional study time before subsequent attempts. Second attempt will be offered on Wednesday, and third attempt on Thursday of the final week of training. If the student does not receive a passing grade on the comprehensive examination, the student will not receive a certification from Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s Medical Laboratory Science Program and the program director will not sign off on the student’s eligibility to sit for national certification examination.
- For students from affiliated colleges and universities, a BS degree is granted, as well as a certificate from the Medical Laboratory Science Program at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Others will receive a certificate from the Medical Laboratory Science Program at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
- The student must maintain the minimum passing grades as stated in the Grading Policy listed elsewhere in this handbook.
- Student progress will be monitored quarterly. Failure to maintain a minimum average in any department will result in the following course of action:
- The student will be notified of unsatisfactory performance by the program director in person and in writing. For university students, the university adviser/liaison will be notified. A remedial course of action will be developed, recorded, discussed and initiated with follow-up to evaluate progress within two weeks. A copy of this plan will be shared with faculty and the university adviser/liaison. If improvement is not seen or additional unsatisfactory performance occurs, student may be placed on probation. All incidents must be documented.
- The didactic instructor or laboratory supervisor determines the time allotted to improve performance, at which time the student will be re-evaluated. Time on probation will be decided based upon number and severity of unsatisfactory performance.
- Continued unsatisfactory performance in the department will result in dismissal from the program.
- Students dismissed from the program for academic reasons may file an appeal via the Grievance/Appeals Policy listed elsewhere in this handbook.
- Students failing or withdrawing from the program may have the option of returning to the affiliated university and earning a baccalaureate degree in a curriculum other than medical laboratory science.
Every student shall be honor-bound to refrain from cheating (including plagiarism, photographing or copying exams). Every student shall be honor-bound to report immediately all violations of the Honor Code of which the student has first-hand knowledge; failure to do so shall be a violation of the Honor Code.
All course work submitted for evaluation is pledged with the student’s name: “On my honor, I pledge that I have neither given nor received help on this work, and I am unaware of any violations of the Honor Code by others.” In pledging individual work, the student affirms that learning must be done within the boundaries of the pledge, and that any knowledge falsely represented as one’s own is hollow and without merit.
Every student found guilty of an Honor Code violation is subject to dismissal from the program.
During exams, all student belongings will be placed in overhead bins or the student’s locker. Students are expected to cover and protect their work during exams.
Students are expected to be in attendance at all times. Excessive absences (more than three) will result in additional days in the laboratory, an unsatisfactory rating on the laboratory student evaluation and a written warning from the program director. If a student exceeds three occurrences of unexcused absences per academic year, disciplinary action will be taken. Consecutive warnings may result in dismissal from the program. Consecutive days are considered only one occurrence.
If unable to attend due to illness, the student must notify the laboratory an hour before the start time by phone and the program director before 8 a.m. by phone, text or email. If a student is ill and confined to bed for more than two days, a physician’s note will be required.
If an occurrence exceeds 10 consecutive days of didactic or clinical days, the student must make up clinical hours, up to a maximum of 14 clinical days. A student is required to make up didactic assignments and tests. However, the faculty may request additional assignments or clinical rotations if they feel it is warranted.
If a personal day is required, it must be scheduled with the program director and the rotation supervisor at least two weeks in advance. In general, all appointments should be made on scheduled days off or after scheduled hours, if possible.
Students are expected to arrive at the work station of their respective laboratory rotation at the time designated by that section. Excessive lateness will result in additional days in the laboratory, an unsatisfactory rating on the laboratory student evaluation and a written warning from the program director. Consecutive warnings may result in dismissal from the program.
Note: As a matter of professional behavior, “on time” means arriving at least five to 10 minutes before the scheduled start time; thus, being ready to start work at the assigned time.
There are no snow days for essential personnel in health care. Students who live within walking distance of the hospital or use public transportation are expected to be in attendance (unless public transportation is shut down). Students who rely on personal transportation must use their discretion.
Dismissal is the permanent withdrawal of the student by the program director of the privilege of class attendance and clinical rotations at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center with no promise (implied or otherwise) that the student may return at any future time.
The medical center retains the right to dismiss a student from the MLS program at its sole discretion. The medical center will notify the university in the event a student is excluded from participation in the program. The university may evaluate the student’s status and plan a method of continuation for the student to complete requirements for a bachelor’s degree at the university.
Misconduct that may result in dismissal consists of the following offenses:
- Violation of written hospital policy or regulations contained in any official publication or administrative announcement of Penn State Health.
- Forgery, alteration, destruction, falsification or misuse of laboratory documents, records, reports or test results.
- Use, possession or carrying of firearms (including, but not limited to, pistols, rifles, shotguns or ammunition), knives, explosives or other dangerous weapons while on hospital-owned property.
- Use, possession or distribution of alcoholic beverages on hospital property that does not comply with laws of The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and hospital policy.
- Use, possession, distribution or being under the influence of narcotics or dangerous drugs.
- Theft of or damage to hospital property.
- Physical abuse of any person on hospital-owned property.
- Disorderly conduct or lewd, indecent or obscene conduct on hospital-owned or controlled property.
- Academic dismissal due to poor grades.
- Academic dishonesty, including, but not limited to, cheating and plagiarism.
- Academic dismissal due to failure to meet expectations of essential functions of program.
- Chronic absence or lateness.
- Endangering the life/well-being of any patient.
Reasons for a recommendation for dismissal of a student are fully documented and discussed with the student. Signatures of all persons involved appear on the documentation statement. The university adviser/liaison of the affiliated institution involved is notified of the recommended action to be followed, and a remediation plan (academic and/or behavioral) is developed. Actions are documented and performance monitored. A written notice is provided, placing the student on probation if progress is not satisfactory. Termination may be necessary if sufficient progress is not made to correct the deficiency or if additional violations of policies occur.
Termination may occur at the first occurrence if the offense is severe. Termination may be recommended by any faculty member and is subject to review by the program director and MLS advisory committee. If the student voluntarily withdraws from the program, no further action will be taken.
The program director shall be notified in writing if a student is voluntarily withdrawing from the program. The withdrawal document will be submitted to the administrative director of the laboratory, and a written confirmation of withdrawal will be sent to the student.
Student advising and guidance through the MLS program will take place on a regular basis (at least quarterly) with the program director and/or student laboratory instructor.
The program director maintains an open-door policy, but encourages students to make an appointment for meetings that would require more than 15 minutes. Students can make appointments with faculty members. If needed, the program director can aid students in arranging this appointment. The program director and faculty will advise students while maintaining confidentiality and impartiality.
For 3+1 students, the university adviser/allied health coordinator is also available to students for academic counseling. The university advisor will meet with students at least once during the clinical year, preferably at least six months after the program has started. The university advisor will meet (or correspond) with the program director to review student and to discuss items of mutual concern.
Academic and nonacademic grievances are handled in the same way. Students with a problem or a complaint may avail themselves of the following procedures:
- The person or people involved should attempt to resolve the problem or differences in preliminary discussions.
- In cases where the involved people cannot resolve the problem, it should be taken to the immediate supervisor or the program director. Actions taken in this step and the following steps are to be documented as a complaint and signed by the involved people.
- If the problem has not been resolved by the immediate supervisor or the program director to the satisfaction of the involved person (within five working days), the student must submit the grievance in writing to the MLS Grievance Committee. Documentation of complaints/grievances will be filed in a separate location on the pathology shared server, and not be part of the student’s permanent record.
- The Grievance Committee is composed of the program director, a laboratory manager or laboratory operations director and one additional MLS advisory board member. If deemed necessary, the Human Resources liaison will be consulted.
- If the problem cannot be resolved, the MLS adviser of the affiliated college shall be informed of the situation. The decision of the program officials will be final.
The program shall protect the confidentiality of student records as dictated by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and shall release no information to third parties absent written consent of the student unless required to do so by law.
Student records from the past 10 years are kept in hard copy form in the program coordinator’s office or in Iron Mountain Archives. These files contain all documents pertinent to the student’s admission to, progress in and completion of the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Medical Laboratory Science Program. Student files are open to the student at their request, with the exception of reference letters where the student has waived the right of access.
Student records more than 10 years old will be retained in a database file located on the institution’s secured server in our Pathology folder. This file lists student name, year of graduation, letter grades in each subject and the pass/fail record of a national certification examination. Beginning with the class of 2020, the student’s GPA is listed and a hard copy of the student’s transcript from the program is retained.
The Medical Laboratory Science Program requires each student to carry adequate health insurance, which shall not be permitted to lapse during the program. There is no program or hospital group coverage available to the student. While training in the medical center’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, students who sustain work-related injuries or work-impacted illnesses (such as conjunctivitis) or acute, non-work-related illness may use the medical center’s emergency department on the same basis as any other patient.
Students will be responsible for the cost of all medical care and hospitalization.
The health and safety of students is safeguarded by requiring updated immunizations (reviewed by Penn State Health Employee Health) by providing safety training, and by providing appropriate personal protective equipment in all areas of the laboratory.
All sharps or splash incidents should be reported immediately. Follow-up for needle sticks or splash incidents should follow established protocol. Students should use the Intake of Sharps or Blood/Body Fluid Splash Injury online form to report an incident.
After submitting the form, the individual will receive instructions on how to proceed, as well as a confidential case number to use for lab work. The instructions and case number will be provided via a PDF at the end of the report and in a separate email.
Either the victim or the supervisor in charge of the work area where the incident occurred will also receive an email with instructions on how to obtain consent from the source of the exposure, which is usually a patient, and how to have bloodwork performed.
A sharps injury is defined as exposure to blood or body fluids caused by laceration or puncture of the skin. Sharps include needles, scalpels or any item that punctures the skin. A splash incident is when blood or body fluids come into contact with the eyes, mouth, broken skin or mucous membranes, which can expose the victim to bloodborne pathogens.
Students will adhere to all Penn State Health COVID-19 policies. These policies include, but are not limited to, daily self-symptom screening, temperature checks, quarantine and travel, both domestic and international. Students are actively encouraged to stay home if they are ill. Any symptoms of COVID-19 will be reported to Employee Heath. They will then give the student further instructions regarding testing and quarantine.
Students will comply with the safety standards as described in the safety section of the Infonet and according to the department’s Emergency Operations Plan.
Students will follow any special safety instructions and wear personal protective equipment as designated by each laboratory.
A safety in-service is provided during the hospital orientation. The laboratory safety in-service is provided by the laboratory safety officer during the orientation week.
Students are expected to present themselves in a professional manner at all times. Scrub sets or business casual attire is permitted. Footwear must be closed-toed and have a back, and exterior surfaces must be made of impermeable materials. Sandals are not permitted. Shorts, sweatpants, sweatshirts and blue denim jeans are not permitted at Penn State Health. Other clothing should not violate current policies found in the Laboratory Safety Manual. Refer to Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center administrative policy (Personal Appearance Guidelines HR-34) and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine’s Personal Appearance Policy (Personnel 06) for complete details.
Students must abide by any applicable medical center dress code and shall wear at all times an identification badge bearing their name, issued to them by Penn State Health at orientation. Such identification badge shall be clearly visible to medical center staff, employees, patients and visitors. Students shall not represent themselves as agents or representatives of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Penn State Health or Penn State College of Medicine.
Professional conduct includes strict regard for the confidential nature of all patient laboratory testing.
The Code of Conduct and Dress Code Policy can be found on the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Infonet and is reviewed during orientation. Students will attest to knowledge and understanding of these policies by signing the Code of Conduct and Dress Code Policy.
No cell phones are permitted outside backpacks during lab rotations, lectures or exams, except in emergency situations with pre-approval. Cell phones may be used in the student room during breaks and at the instructor’s discretion.
The program agrees to cooperate with the university in any investigation of an allegation of discrimination and to report to the university any known incident in which the university student is the victim of sexual assault, relationship violence, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, stalking or sexual harassment. Reports of sexual misconduct should be directed to the university Title IX coordinator or through Penn State Health Human Resources.
Students will participate in training and comply with hospital policy relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Before the start of the program, they will complete a HIPAA informational packet and sign an attestation form before being issued an IT access account. Once on campus, HIPAA information will be reviewed and discussed the first day of class. Failure to abide by HIPAA policies and procedures may result in the student’s expulsion from the program.
The program shall provide Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center clinical laboratory employees responsible for supervising (overseeing and monitoring) student learning activities during clinical rotations within the program. In laboratory rotations, students will be with a trainer/instructor. After demonstrating proficiency, students may be permitted to perform procedures under qualified supervision.
The program will not require students to be responsible for any service function within the clinical laboratory. However, interested students may be hired for PRN employment in the laboratory at times other than that allotted for student learning activities as part of the program. Once students have completed the rotation in a clinical area and have been determined proficient in the area, they may be given the opportunity to work, as needed (PRN), for compensation.
Students are given responsibility for performing tests and reporting results under the direction of a staff technologist, with the approval of the supervisor, outside of regular academic hours. As PRN employees, students are subject to Penn State Health employee regulations.
The Medical Laboratory Science Program shall maintain qualified faculty as defined by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS) standards. The program director shall administer the program on a day-to-day basis and perform the duties as defined in the job description for Education Coordinator at the Medical Center, which includes ensuring all provisions of the NAACLS Standards are met and maintained. In addition, a Student Laboratory Instructor (SLI) is employed full time in MLS program administration and works closely with the program director, students and clinical instructors. The SLI is responsible for setting up student lab exercises, scheduling clinical rotations, aiding in curriculum development and monitoring and evaluating student performance and achievement.
The didactic faculty is responsible for teaching courses, developing curriculum and evaluating student achievement and course effectiveness. Didactic faculty members also have input in forming program policies and procedures, as well as maintaining effective communication with the program director.
The clinical faculty is responsible for supervising and scheduling trainers for students during the clinical laboratory learning experiences. Clinical faculty members also provide input for curriculum development and program policies and procedures, and maintain effective communication with the program director and student laboratory instructor.
Other medical center-employed laboratory coworkers may participate as adjunct faculty of the MLS program. They may teach courses, supervise clinical laboratory learning experiences, evaluate student achievement and aid in curriculum development. The adjunct faculty will be evaluated by the students and may be removed based on the results of student evaluations.
All faculty members must demonstrate adequate knowledge and proficiency in their content areas and demonstrate the ability to teach effectively at the MLS level. They shall maintain continuing education as required by NAACLS standards.
Faculty recruitment and employment practices shall be non-discriminatory and in accordance with the regulations of the government and the medical center. Primary faculty positions are recruited cooperatively by the program director, laboratory operations director, laboratory managers and medical directors of clinical pathology laboratory sections.
The Medical Laboratory Science Program is committed to ensuring program quality. The program will provide a curriculum in its clinical rotation that meets or exceeds the standards set by the NAACLS. Analysis of outcome measures provides a systemic approach to ensuring program effectiveness. Because the program is in its inaugural year, no data exist for the following measures at this time. However, the following tools will be used in the future to collect data to monitor program effectiveness. The standard that triggers action is also listed.
- Board of Certification pass rate
- NAACLS and the Penn State Health program standard is a 75 percent pass rate average for three consecutive years for the graduates who take the exam within the first year of graduation.
- Graduation rate
- NAACLS and the Penn State Health program standard is a 70 percent graduation rate average for three consecutive years for the students who have begun the final half of the program. The final half of the program begins after Thanksgiving break.
- Graduation placement rate
- NAACLS and the Penn State Health program standard is a 70 percent graduation placement rate for respondent graduates who find employment as an MLS or in a closely related field or continue their education within one year of graduation.
- A respondent graduate is defined as a graduate who completes the MLS program one-year graduate survey.
- MLS program graduate one-year post graduation survey
- The program survey standard is a minimum average score of three out of four for each category of the survey.
- MLS program employer survey
- The program survey standard is a minimum average score of three out of four for each category of the survey.
- The employer survey is sent after the graduate completes the survey. For those graduates employed outside of the medical center, employer contact information is requested in the survey.
Any year in which data do not meet the program standard and/or NAACLS standard is reviewed and analyzed by the program director. Any changes made, based on input from the faculty and advisory committee, are monitored for the effect on the program for at least one year.
General Program Objectives
This section lists expected intellectual outcomes, skill and behaviors of the MLS student. The taxonomic level within each domain follows the objective.
After attending lectures, reading assigned materials, and performing tests in the laboratory, the student will be able to: (specific criteria listed in each course syllabus)
- Recall the basic theoretical concepts related to clinical discipline. LEVEL I
- Recall terminology associated with clinical discipline and reference ranges. LEVEL I
- Recall principle of operation of laboratory instruments. LEVEL I
- Differentiate human anatomy and physiology, as it relates to discipline, in both health and disease. LEVEL II
- Analyze the underlying theory of procedures performed in the laboratory, including general description of analyte, clinical significance of analyte, methodology of procedure, interferences, limitations and conditions for false negatives and positives. LEVEL II
- Apply knowledge of normal laboratory data to differentiate between normal and abnormal values for each specimen type. LEVEL II
- Interpret laboratory results using guidelines of methodology and procedure. LEVEL II
- Compare alternate methodologies. LEVEL II
- Discuss preanalytical, analytical, and postanalytical processes that may affect generation and delivery of laboratory results. LEVEL III
- Correlate basic laboratory tests with their associated pathologic states. LEVEL III
- Integrate data from multiple analyses/laboratories to determine most likely diagnosis of the patient. LEVEL III
- Assess data for possible discrepancies and resolve problems taking into account the patient’s condition and medical history. LEVEL III
- Evaluate new methodology and instrumentation through application of basic scientific principles, accepted laboratory techniques, turnaround time, cost analysis and other management principles. LEVEL III
After attending lectures, reading assigned materials and performing tests in the laboratory, the student will be able to: (specific criteria listed in each course syllabus)
- Recognize acceptable, suboptimal, unacceptable specimens according to Standard Operating Procedure of the laboratory area where testing occurs. LEVEL I
- Process specimens as instructed. LEVEL II
- Select appropriate procedure, reagents and controls for test requested. LEVEL I
- Perform, as demonstrated, manual and automated procedures, including operating, maintaining and calibrating instruments and preparing/changing reagents. LEVEL II
- Identify sources of error and interference that affect laboratory test analysis. LEVEL I
- Record Quality Control (QC) and/or patient results according to instructions and in a neat and orderly manner. LEVEL II
- Perform QC and evaluate its acceptability. LEVEL II
- Troubleshoot procedure or instrument when QC is out of range or when results do not correlate with patient’s clinical condition. LEVEL III
- Review and analyze results and communicate critical results to health care provider in charge of patient’s care. LEVEL III
- Correct errors in a timely fashion. LEVEL III
While completing each laboratory rotation, the student will: (criteria listed with each objective)
- Receive assignments given in the laboratory. LEVEL I
- Listen attentively to explanation of procedure.
- Observe demonstrations of techniques.
- Accept constructive criticism willingly.
- Respond positively to individuals who have teaching and supervisory responsibilities. LEVEL I
- Cooperate with instructor/supervisor in lab assignment.
- Communicate effectively with assigned instructors and supervisors regarding laboratory rotation and testing assignments.
- Ask for clarification when a principle or procedure is not clear.
- Demonstrate compliance with and commitment to laboratory rules and practice. LEVEL I
- Conform to lab schedule in regard to starting/finishing/lunch/break time.
- Comply with lab safety policies and procedures when handling specimens and reagents, and when operating instruments.
- Notify supervisor of any lab accident should it occur.
- Value accuracy as being critically important in the provision of patient care. LEVEL II
- Follow laboratory procedures for accessioning, identification, transport, storage and disposal of specimens.
- Complete appropriate instrument maintenance and procedure QC before initiating patient testing.
- Monitor normal ranges and critical values.
- Seek consultation in a timely manner when results are questionable.
- Endorse dependability as a work value in assignments. LEVEL II
- Notify education coordinator when circumstances cause lateness or absence.
- Plan all scheduled absences in advance and with regard to lab requirements.
- Complete all assigned laboratory tasks (procedures, unknowns and written and practical exams) according to lab requirements.
- Maintain effective and positive interpersonal relationships. LEVEL II
- Communicate effectively by phone or directly with other health professionals.
- Respect role and responsibilities of others in allied health profession.
- Interact in a friendly, cooperative, professional manner with peers and instructors.
- Strive to resolve any problem that may arise by discussing problem with respective peer or instructor before going to people not directly involved.
- Represent the laboratory favorably to other departments and the public.
- Establish good work habits. LEVEL III
- Organize work for an efficient flow of specimen testing.
- Manage reagents, supplies and equipment.
- Strive to leave work area in clean and safe condition.
- Persist in self-motivation toward learning. LEVEL III
- Initiate assigned tasks without prompting.
- Strive to resolve sources of error or discrepancies caused by suboptimal specimens or interfering substances without prompting.
- Strive to resolve out-of-range QC without prompting.
- Endeavor to function independently, as skills develop, on rotational assignment.
- Ask for additional information about a given test or assignment.
- Read current literature to enhance knowledge.
Measured by written examinations in both lecture and laboratory. Laboratory may include completion of worksheets or workbook.
Measured by practical examinations in the laboratory. Checklist evaluation may be used if appropriate.
Measured by a checklist evaluation in the laboratory.
Fees and Expenses
The tuition fee for this program is established and reviewed annually. The fee is payable in two installments: one for the first semester and a final one for the second semester. Invoices will be sent in July/August and in January. Payment will be due within 30 days after receipt of invoice from Penn State Health.
Students who are entering the program with a conferred Bachelor’s degree (“4+1”) are not eligible for Title IV funding, which means they cannot receive federal or private student loans. Students receiving financial aid from their college or university will continue to receive aid during their internship, as it represents the fourth year of college or university study.
- Penn State and Lebanon Valley College will be billed by the hospital for those undergraduate students enrolled from those institutions. University policy is to reimburse the hospital from tuition it receives from the students at a percentage of the tuition each semester. Students from these institutions will not be invoiced; instead the University or college will be invoiced, with payments due within 30 days of receipt of the invoice.
- Students of other affiliates, graduates and students enrolled under temporary agreements will be billed directly by the hospital at the rate and times stated in this policy. Invoices will be sent July/August and January of the clinical “year.” Payment is made by the individual student to the program (Checks made payable to Penn State Health).
- If a student does not complete the program, tuition only will be refunded according to the table below. Any subsequent tuition to the hospital will not be billed.
- Withdrawal during week 1 or 2: 80 percent tuition refunded
- Withdrawal during week 3 or 4: 60 percent of tuition refunded
- Withdrawal after the fourth week of the program: No tuition refund
- If a student fails to pay tuition, the student will not be awarded a graduation certificate nor will grades be forwarded.
Biannual payments of $7,500 are due within 30 days of receipt of invoice. Students will be invoiced in July/August (for the first semester) and January (for the second semester).
For Penn State and Lebanon Valley students
Tuition for Penn State and Lebanon Valley College students is determined by their home institution, not Penn State Health.
Therefore, tuition for students from those institutions will differ from the above. Students will not receive an invoice; instead, Penn State or Lebanon Valley will be invoiced.
Students will bear the cost of all expenses, including, but not limited to, textbooks, transportation, meals, lodging and miscellaneous expenses related to their participation in the program, such as liability insurance, background checks and health screening costs.
Students are required to purchase their own textbooks. The books are available from publishers at a discounted rate or can be purchased online. Estimated cost is $700.
Transportation costs from student’s home to the medical center are the student’s responsibility.
All students are required to have health insurance and must provide documentation of coverage in full force and effect for the duration of the training period.
Students are required to purchase professional liability insurance with limits of not less than $1,000,000 per occurrence and $3,000,000 per aggregate, covering all acts and activities undertaken during the training period. Students may obtain this insurance from any insurance broker. Such insurance is available at reduced costs through Lockton Affinity LLC, as student members of ASCP, at a cost of $18. Student members of ASCLS have the option of buying similar insurance through Proliability.com for $36. Certificate of this insurance must be submitted to the program prior to participation in the program and must cover the entire training “year.”
Students must submit the following reports to the program within six months of matriculation:
- The Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Records Check (PATCH)
- Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance
- Federal Criminal Records Check (FBI fingerprinting required)
Any costs associated with these clearances are paid by the student.
Proof of a recent physical and Infectious Disease Summary form must be completed and submitted to the program director and approved by Employee Health prior to matriculation. A urine drug screen (following a chain-of-custody protocol) must be completed within six months prior to program start date. The preferred vendor is WORKNET Occupational Services. Entrance into the program is contingent upon review and approval of these health screen results. Students are responsible for payment of any costs associated with these screenings.
Graduates of the program are expected to achieve certain job-entry level competencies, so only the usual orientation needed by a new employee would be required for full productivity. At career entry, the medical laboratory scientist will:
- Be proficient in collecting and processing biological specimens for analysis.
- Be proficient in performing the full range of clinical laboratory tests in hematology, chemistry, immunohematology, microbiology, serology/immunology, coagulation, molecular and other emerging diagnostics.
- Perform preventive and corrective maintenance of equipment and instruments or refer to appropriate source for repairs.
- Make judgments concerning the results of quality-control measures and institute proper procedures to maintain accuracy and precision.
- Analyze and correlate laboratory data to make clinical decisions regarding abnormal results, possible discrepancies and probable patient diagnosis.
- Participate in the evaluation of new techniques and procedures.
- Recognize and act upon individual needs for continuing education as a function of growth and maintenance of professional competence. Apply the principles of education methodology.
- Have responsibilities in the areas of laboratory safety, regulatory compliance and quality assurance/performance improvement.
- Possess basic knowledge, skills and relevant experiences in:
- Communications, in order to interact professionally with patients and colleagues and to consult with members of the health care team.
- Finances, operations, marketing and human resource management of the clinical laboratory, to enable cost-effective, high-quality laboratory services.
- Information management, to enable effective, timely, accurate and cost-effective reporting of laboratory-generated information.
- Research design/practice sufficient to evaluate published studies as an informed consumer.
The 11-month program is based on a 40-hour week and provides both practical and theoretical training in the various disciplines of medical laboratory science (MLS). The following table outlines the clinical experience within the different sections of the Clinical Pathology Laboratories.
Note: Affiliated colleges and universities assign credits according to individual requirements.
Detailed lecture and rotation schedules will be saved on the pathology network drive and in Canvas. Students will be given details about lecture and student laboratory exercises one week in advance.
The clinical rotation schedule will be published by November 3, 2023. All clinical experiences will occur at facilities within the Penn State Health system.
Students will spend two weeks in Chemistry, three days in Urinalysis, two days in Body Fluids, four weeks in Microbiology, one week in Virology/Immunology, three weeks in Hematology/Coagulation, three weeks in Blood Bank, one week in one of our community hospital laboratories, and additional time (less than one week) in specialty areas of Core Reference Lab, Hematopoietic Cell Therapy (HCT) Lab, Histocompatibility/HLA Lab, Molecular Pathology and Special Hematology Lab.
Fischbach’s A Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 11th North American Edition
Authors: Fischbach & Fischbach
Publisher: Wolters Kluwer, 2022
Urinalysis and Body Fluids, 7th Edition
Authors: Strasinger & DeLorenzo
Publisher: FA Davis Company, 2020
Clinical Hematology Atlas, 6th Edition
Authors: Rodak and Carr
Publisher: Elsevier, 2021
Rodak’s Hematology: Clinical Principles and Applications, 6th Edition
Authors: Keohane, Smith, & Walenga
Publisher: Elsevier; 2020
Bailey & Scott’s Diagnostic Microbiology, 15th Edition
Author: Patricia Tille
Publisher: Elsevier, 2021
Clinical Chemistry: Principles, Techniques, Correlations, 9th Edition
Authors: Bishop, Frody, Siclen, & Mistler
Publisher: JB Learning, 2023
Modern Blood Banking & Transfusion Practices, 7th Edition
Author: Denise Harmening
Publisher: F.A. Davis Company, 2019
Clinical Immunology and Serology: A Laboratory Perspective, 5th Edition
Authors: Linda E. Miller and Christine Dorresteyn Stevens
Publisher: F.A. Davis Company, 2021
These are not required to be purchased; they are available in Harrell Health Sciences Library and in the Medical Laboratory Science Program student classroom.
The Phlebotomy Textbook, 4th Edition
Author: Susan King Strasinger and Marjorie Schaub DiLorenzo
Publisher: F.A. Davis Company, 2019
AABB Technical Manual, 20th Edition
Edited by: CS Cohn, M Delaney, ST Johnson, and LM Katz
Publisher: AABB, 2020
Laboratory Management, Principles and Processes, 4th Edition
Author: Denise Harmening
Publisher: D.H. Publishing & Consulting Inc., June 30, 2020
All current CLSI documents can be found on the network drive in the Pathology -> Shared -> CLSI_Documents folder.
The Clinical Laboratory Test Catalog is available here.
The Clinical Laboratory Service Manual is available on the Infonet (internal access only; login required).
Lab Tests Online is a health information web resource designed to help patients and caregivers understand the many lab tests that are a vital part of medical care
ARUP Consult is a laboratory test selection support tool with more than 2,000 lab tests categorized into disease-related topics and algorithms.
Procedure information is available in iPassport. Each student will be issued their own username and password.
Medical Laboratory Science students have free, unlimited access to Harrell Health Sciences Library: Research and Learning Commons resources.
Library collections and services support the informational needs of Hershey Medical Center users engaged in patient care, research and education, including interlibrary loan, search services and instruction. Students have on-site access to more than 6.9 million books, almost 400,000 ebooks, 110,000 online full-text journals and 706 databases. Most digital platforms are compatible with mobile devices.
Each MLS student will be issued a laptop computer for use during the 11-month training period. Penn State provides access to many of the major scientific journals, highly used scholarly databases and point-of-care clinical tools. The first floor of the library features a mix of lounges, study carrels, group study rooms, the One-Button Studio for presentation recording and a technology sandbox for experimentation with emerging technologies, including new software and 3D printing.
The library is open every day except major holidays, and the study room and computer lab are available 24 hours a day.