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About the Clinical Laboratory Science Associate Degree Program

Q. What is a clinical laboratory technician?

R. Clinical laboratory technicians work in a medical laboratory performing tests on blood and other body fluids to help physicians diagnose and treat diseases.

Student in the labQ. What do clinical laboratory technicians do?

R. A clinical laboratory technician’s typical duties may include preparing blood, urine and tissue specimens for analysis and then performing procedures ordered by a physician on these specimens. Using sophisticated laboratory equipment, lab technicians look for bacteria, parasites, and other microorganisms; analyze the chemical content of fluids; match blood for transfusions; and test for drug levels in the blood to show how a patient is responding to treatment. Technicians may specialize in the areas of chemistry, hematology, cytotechnology, immunology, virology, blood banking and microbiology. Due to the critical nature of the work, laboratory technicians must be extremely accurate and follow established procedures.

Q. What is the salary range for clinical laboratory technicians?

R. Consistent with the national average the starting salary for medical laboratory technicians with an Associate Degree is approximately $36,600. This varies with shift and type of laboratory.

Q. How do I get accepted into the CLS Program at MWCC?

R. You should take all pre-requisite courses in the first year of the program completing all MAT, BIO, CHE and CLS classes with a C+ or higher.  Admission to the second year is selective requiring an application process. You may obtain an application package from enrollment services where all requirements are identified. The application process begins early during the spring semester of the first year of the curriculum.

Q. What should I do if I think I might like to major in CLS or if have questions about this program?

R. You must meet with the Program Department Chairperson, Cheryl Wilson, room 271, 978-630-9433, cwilson14@mwcc.mass.edu. The first recommendation (actually this is a pre-CLS requirement) will be to attend a CLS Information Session (held monthly).

Q. What should I do if I have questions about field of work?

R. Besides meeting with the Program Department Chairperson you will find career related information at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-and-clinical-laboratory-technologists-and-technicians.htm

Q. Can I enroll in the CLS Program part-time? Can I take the program in the evening?

R. You may complete the first year courses on a part-time basis, but the clinical component of the second year is a full-time schedule. Multiple sections of courses are available on a day and evening schedule each semester, EXCEPT for all CLS courses. These are only offered in the semester designated on the curriculum and during the day.

Q. What hospital will I receive my clinical training in?

R. All clinical rotations during the second year of the program will take place at one of our hospital affiliates: Heywood Hospital in Gardner, HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster, Lab Corps at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester, Marlboro Hospital in Marlboro, Cheshire Medical Center Dartmouth Hitchcock in Keene, NH, Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer, Marlboro Hospital in Marlboro, Emerson Hospital in Concord and Athol Memorial Hospital, Athol.

Q. Is the MWCC CLS Program accredited?

R. The MWCC CLS-AD Programs received full accreditation by the National Agency for Clinical Laboratory Personnel (NACCLS) in April of 2009.

Q. Why is NAACLS accreditation important?

R. Graduation from a NAACLS accredited program is required for eligibility for taking the national certification examination. Certification is the benchmark for employment in the field of clinical laboratory science.

Q. What if I am already a phlebotomist, do I need to take CLS106, the phlebotomy practicum?

R. If a student enrolled in a formal phlebotomy training program with equivalent learning outcomes (didactic and practical) as PLB 101 and PLB 203, a student can petition the Department Chair to waive CLS106. If a student has been employed as a phlebotomist and has achieved or exceeded the learning outcomes equivalent to the phlebotomy component of CLS 106, a student may petition to waive the phlebotomy clinical practicum component of CLS 106. Exception from this week of clinical practice would require validation of competency in venous and dermal blood collection procedures from an instructor, employer and/or a supervisor.

Q. How many students are accepted into CLS?

R. The CLS program is currently accepting 6 – 9 students per year, depending upon the availability of the clinical sites for the 2nd year clinical practicum experiences.

Q. What are my chances of getting accepted into CLS?

R. Successful completion of the first year pre-requisites makes a student a good candidate for admission. However, selection is based largely on grades, with pre-CLS, BIO, MAT, CHEM grades carrying more weight in the admission process than others.