Clinical Laboratory Sciences Q and A about the CLS Program

 


Q and A about the CLS Program

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Admission
  1. How do I obtain an application form and when is the deadline for applications?
  2. I am still in high school, but would like information about applying to your program when I graduate.
  3. I completed most of my pre-requisite courses long ago. Will I need to re-take them?
  4. I completed my medical laboratory technician (MLT) training through the armed forces. Will this education help me in your CLS program?
  5. I have a BS degree, but I am not MLT certified. Do I need an MLT certification before I can apply to CLS program?
  6. Is an Associate's degree required or recommended for entrance into the CLS program at UTMB?
  7. What about the interview?
  8. What are my chances of being admitted to the Program?
  9. What are the minimum SAT and GPA requirements?
  10. What is required for international students to apply?

Areas of Study
  1. Does a Clinical Laboratory Scientist draw blood from patients?
  2. What does a hematologist do?

Certification
  1. Do all of your students pass the national exam?
  2. Do I have to take a licensing exam after I graduate?
  3. What content is tested on the national exam?

Distance Programs
  1. How do students take distance courses?
  2. I haven't taken all my pre-requisites yet, can I still enter the Program?
  3. I will graduate from my MLT program soon, will any of my MLT courses transfer?
  4. What about exemptions for course work if I already work as laboratory technician or have laboratory experience?
  5. What is MLT certification?
  6. What type of students tend do well in the distance programs?
  7. Will I be required to come to Galveston for the interview? Are there other times I would need to come to Galveston?

Employment
  1. How much money will I make?
  2. What about job opportunities?
  3. What kind of graduate education can I pursue with a Bachelor's degree in Clinical Laboratory Sciences?

Enrollment
  1. What is the cost of the Program?
  2. Where will I complete my clinical training?

General
  1. Does the CLS program offer a work-study program?
  2. How do I know that the CLS profession is right for me?
  3. I am concerned about working with instruments and machinery.
  4. What characteristics make a good clinical laboratory scientist?
  5. What does a clinical laboratory scientist do?
  6. What does a clinical laboratory scientist really do?


How do I obtain an application form and when is the deadline for applications?

To receive an application packet, please complete our information request form. You may also apply online.  The deadline for fall application is July 1. (NOTE: The Admissions Committee may accept applications past this deadline if class size permits. Please call 409-772-3055 to let us know you have missed the deadline.)
 
Tips for Applying to the Program:
 
1. Apply as early as possible
2. Request your transcripts be sent
3. Call us if you have not received an interview schedule within three weeks of sending in your application and transcripts
 
If you receive a letter from the school indicating that you have not completed all your prerequisites, please do not panic. Respond to the letter as quickly as possible and address the issue of when you plan to complete your prerequisites, even if you will complete them after your acceptance.

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I am still in high school, but would like information about applying to your program when I graduate.

As a high school student, you should enroll in advanced science and math courses and work hard to do your best. Our CLS program offers upper division (college junior-senior level) courses that require you to have completed a minimum of 60 college credit hours before admission is granted.

During your first two years of college, we suggest that you take biology, chemistry and math courses, as well as the general core curriculum courses. You may take these courses at any community, junior, 4-year college or University.

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I completed most of my pre-requisite courses long ago. Will I need to re-take them?

No. For admission purposes, pre-requisite courses do not "expire" as do standardized test scores. However, it is required that you score a "C" or better in a course for it to satisfy a pre-requisite. For further information, please contact us to have your transcript(s) evaluated.

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I completed my medical laboratory technician (MLT) training through the armed forces. Will this education help me in your CLS program?

Certainly! Students with MLT training and/or certification can apply for our distance program or take an abbreviated on-campus program to earn their Bachelor's degree in CLS.

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I have a BS degree, but I am not MLT certified. Do I need an MLT certification before I can apply to CLS program?

Students without an MLT degree must enroll in the 2-year, on-campus program or may pursue a categorical certification in one of four areas of CLS: hematology, clinical chemistry, microbiology, or blood banking which uses a blend of distance education for lecture and on-campus lab experiences. Students with an MLT degree have the option of enrolling in either our on-campus or distance program.

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Is an Associate's degree required or recommended for entrance into the CLS program at UTMB?

No, an Associate's degree is not required for entrance into the on-campus CLS program. Students wishing to apply for the CLS distance degree plans must have earned their MLT degree and/or certification.

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What about the interview?

We have several days set aside for applicant interviews. Applicants will generally spend most of one day at the interview. We will send an interview schedule to applicants as soon as we have their application and transcripts.
 
On the Interview Day:
 
1. The Admissions & Recruitment Coordinator will talk with the group of applicants.
2. Each applicant will be interviewed by a panel and by the Department Chair.
3. Each applicant will be given time to write a short essay.
4. A current student in the Program will talk with the applicants, answer questions, and take the applicants on a short tour of the SAHS facilities and key points of the campus.
5. Faculty will meet with the applicants to answer any questions they might have.

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What are my chances of being admitted to the Program?

If you have met the prerequisite and minimum GPA requirements and are highly motivated, your chances for admission are very good. Applicants are ranked using several criteria: overall GPA, science GPA, the interview, work experience, etc. Applicants are selected on the basis of their ranking. The minimum acceptable overall GPA and science GPA is 2.0. The average overall and science GPA of our accepted students is 3.0.

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What are the minimum SAT and GPA requirements?

Minimum overall GPA is 2.0. Minimum science GPA is 2.0. Most students entering the Program have an average overall and science GPA of 3.0. There is no minimum SAT requirement.

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What is required for international students to apply?

Foreign transcripts must be evaluated by a UTMB-approved agency. We recommend that you use an agency approved by the ASCP Board of Registry, as the ASCP requires all CLS graduates seeking certification to have their foreign transcripts evaluated by an ASCP-approved agency.

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Does a Clinical Laboratory Scientist draw blood from patients?

In order to run tests to assist in patient diagnosis, a blood sample may be obtained by fingerstick or venipuncture. It depends on the facility (e.g. type and size) whether or not a clinical laboratory scientist (CLS) would be required to draw blood. In smaller facilities, it is more likely for the CLS to draw blood, but in larger facilities it would be less likely. Recently, blood collections (phlebotomy) have been practiced by trained technicians that specialize in drawing blood for the laboratory. Because the CLS may perform sample collections, blood collections are a part of our curriculum. However, many other health care professionals and personnel, including physician assistants and nurses, may perform blood collections. Frequently, it is the CLS who trains and supervises personnel that perform blood collections.

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What does a hematologist do?

Those individuals who choose to work solely in the area of hematology must have or develop an intimate knowledge of cells that are found in blood, bone marrow and body fluids, how they are formed, how they mature, and the changes that occur in diseased states. In addition, they must be able to work with instrumentation that is used to count cells and validate the results derived from these instruments. Hematologists might work in special areas such as special stains, electrophoresis, flow cytometry, or coagulation (the study and identification of blood clotting disorders or hemorrhage). Those who work with special stains, flow cytometry, or electrophoresis must develop even more specialized skills that are used to identify very specific disease states or disorders.

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Do all of your students pass the national exam?

Our pass rate is comparable to other programs nationwide. Students who adequately prepare and review usually have no difficulty in passing the national examination.

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Do I have to take a licensing exam after I graduate?

No. However, a successful passing score on a national certifying exam is required by most health care employers.

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What content is tested on the national exam?

The national examinations reflect the basic knowledge and critical thinking skills that are considered necessary for an individual to successfully practice as a clinical laboratory scientist. The examinations cover all aspects of laboratory work, including: microbiology, clinical chemistry, hematology, coagulation, urinalysis and body fluids, immunology, immunohematology, management, clinical practice, and safety.

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How do students take distance courses?

Our distance students take courses in several ways:
 
1. Web-based instructional lessons
2. Streaming video lectures
3. the Internet

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I haven't taken all my pre-requisites yet, can I still enter the Program?

Possibly. We anticipate that distance students will be lacking pre-requisites when they apply to the program. Pre-requisite courses may be taken concurrently with CLS courses, excluding science, math, and computer courses. These courses must be completed before entering our Program. For further information, please contact us to have your transcript(s) evaluated.

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I will graduate from my MLT program soon, will any of my MLT courses transfer?

More than likely, many of your MLT courses will transfer. We have articulation agreements with many MLT programs in the State. These programs have courses we consider to have equal educational benefit as some of our courses. If you have attended one of these programs, there will be some of our courses for which you will receive credit and not be required to take. In addition, if you are an MLT, you may not be required to complete the full clinical rotation time as scheduled in our Program.
 
Determination of whether or not a course is eligible for transfer credit and whether or not you are eligible for an abbreviated clinical rotation schedule are decisions made on an individual basis. Please contact us to have your transcript(s) evaluated and to learn more about our distance program.

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What about exemptions for course work if I already work as laboratory technician or have laboratory experience?

Applicants who have graduated from an accredited MLT program with whom we have an articulation agreement will be given credit for those courses that are considered of equal status. Credit may be awarded for other course work but must be negotiated on an individual basis. Some credit is awarded for laboratory experience upon evidence of ability to meet certain competency levels. Most classes can be challenged for credit by examination.

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What is MLT certification?

MLT certification provides recognition to an individual that is competent in knowledge and experience as a medical laboratory technician (MLT). Typically, certification is granted after an individual successfully completes:
 

  • approximately two years of associate's level training and practicum in an MLT program
  • a national certification exam

MLT certification is a prerequisite to entering our distance program, but not our on-campus program. For more information about certification, please visit the ASCP web site.

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What type of students tend do well in the distance programs?

Certain students are better suited to distance learning than others. Generally, those students who are likely to succeed in our distance programs:

  • meet the necessary technical requirements and are comfortable with the equipment
  • have the time and resources to dedicate to their course work
  • are comfortable with written and electronic (e.g. e-mail) forms of communication
  • are self-disciplined, self-guided and committed to earning their degree
  • have the ability to prioritize responsibilities and to work independently
  • will ask for assistance when needed, to build important academic and social support systems
  • have much to benefit from this delivery method vs. local programs (e.g. full-time employment or similar restrictions, busy lifestyle, geographic isolation from campus, parenting responsibilities, physical disability, corporate support to learn at work)

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Will I be required to come to Galveston for the interview? Are there other times I would need to come to Galveston?

Applicants are required to come to Galveston for the interview, unless circumstances prohibit. A phone interview may be granted if necessary. We also strongly encourage you to come for orientation and registration at the beginning of your first semester. Depending upon the course, you may also be required to travel to Galveston approximately 3 times per semester for advanced lab sessions (currently applies to both LEAP and WebCLS courses). These sessions are typically held on the weekends.

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How much money will I make?

That depends on the workplace. Most new graduates that assume hospital or clinic jobs in this area (Houston/Galveston) start around $24.30 per hour. Some make more, some make a little less. Industry jobs pay more, as may different areas of the state and country.

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What about job opportunities?

All of our graduates to date have successfully found employment. They have not necessarily remained in the Houston/Galveston area, as there are numerous jobs around the state and country. A recent national survey indicates that there are still numerous vacancies for qualified clinical laboratory scientists. There also are jobs for clinical laboratory scientists in addition to the hospital and clinic environment (e.g. jobs in industry, research, medical sales, consulting, etc.).

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What kind of graduate education can I pursue with a Bachelor's degree in Clinical Laboratory Sciences?

With a Bachelor's degree in CLS, you can pursue any graduate degree, but are well qualified to continue your education in the healthcare fields of medicine, physician assistant studies, or pathology.

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What is the cost of the Program?

Current tuition and fee rates can be found at the Enrollment Services web site. You may also view an explanation of these fees or use our tuition calculator. Financial aid information for CLS students is available at http://sahs.utmb.edu/cls/finaid.asp.

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Where will I complete my clinical training?

On-campus students will complete their training at UTMB or an affiliated hospital in the Galveston/Houston area. For off-campus students, we have affiliation agreements with numerous clinical sites and will try to work with your present employer to keep you from traveling too far from your home town.

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Does the CLS program offer a work-study program?

Yes. UTMB offers numerous federal work-study positions, available in many departments, including CLS. To be eligible, you must apply for work-study as part of financial aid. If accepted, you are awarded a dollar amount of work-study based on your eligibility. You then select an available job, work the required number of hours, and receive payment for your work. You can spread the number of hours worked over time (i.e. you could work a lot of hours and use up your dollar amount in several months or stretch your work hours over the entire academic year).

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How do I know that the CLS profession is right for me?

If you enjoy learning science theory, applying scientific principles, or problem solving, this profession is a good choice for you.

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I am concerned about working with instruments and machinery.

Most laboratory equipment is becoming easier to operate as it is computerized. If you are comfortable reading computer monitors and using a keyboard, you will be comfortable around most laboratory instruments. What about using your hands? Many of the procedures we perform in the clinical laboratory and related biotechnology laboratories still involve using your hands.

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What characteristics make a good clinical laboratory scientist?

Those individuals who choose clinical laboratory science as a career must have, or be willing to develop, the following characteristics:

  • caring
  • organized
  • responsible
  • dependable
  • honest (with integrity)
  • hard-working (have a good work ethic)
  • able to work in stressful situations
  • life-long learners (the field is constantly changing as new information and skills are added)

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What does a clinical laboratory scientist do?

Clinical Laboratory Scientists assist physicians and other primary care providers in determining the cause of patient disease and to assess extent of the disease process and therapy. They work behind the scenes and are seldom seen or noticed by most patients or visitors. The closest contact most patients have with the CLS professional is when the patient has their blood drawn.

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What does a clinical laboratory scientist really do?

Clinical Laboratory Scientists are trained to perform analyses of blood, urine, sputum, and other body fluids. They are trained as generalists so that they can perform testing in:

  • hematology (the study of blood cells)
  • clinical chemistry (the analyses of chemical components of body fluids)
  • urinalysis (the examination of chemical and cellular components of the urine)
  • microbiology (the study of bacteria, viruses, parasites, mycobacteria, and fungi that might be found in body fluids or tissues)
  • immunohematology (the study of hemolytic processes, transfusions, etc.)
Not only are they trained to perform analyses, but also to run various types of lab equipment, perform quality assurance checks to insure accurate lab results, trouble-shoot instruments, analytical problem solving, correlate test results, and consult and work with other health care professionals.

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