Michigan Technological University’s Medical Laboratory Science program has received
first-time accreditation from the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory

It took four years and stacks of documentation, but Michigan Tech’s Medical Laboratory Science program has earned first-time accreditation by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical
Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).  

“By qualifying as an accredited program, the Medical Laboratory Science program is
earning the type of recognition it deserves,” said Provost Jackie Huntoon. “For many
years, the faculty, staff and students who have participated in this program have
maintained high standards, and I am happy to see them recognized for their achievements.”

Chandrashekhar Joshi, chair of Michigan Tech’s Department of Biological Sciences—which houses the Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) program—said the effort was “enormous.
We are extremely excited to see all this hard work, under the leadership of program
director Karyn Fay, come to fruition.”

The Need is a Crisis

The need for medical laboratory scientists is enormous, particularly in rural areas.
Fay called the situation “a crisis. If we can’t graduate qualified people, hospitals
are going to start hiring less-qualified people,” she warned.

Michigan Tech has taught medical laboratory science since 1941, originally as medical
technology. It has evolved over the years to medical lab science, which is the major
diagnostic arm of medicine.  

The question about accreditation arose when more and more hospitals—where MLS students
must do a six to nine month practicum after they earn their Bachelor of Science in
Medical Laboratory Science—stopped supporting and started closing their accredited
education programs. There are now only three hospitals in Michigan accredited to offer
the MLS practicum, required before graduates can take national boards and get certified,
Fay explained.

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So Michigan Tech, with the full support of the president, provost and dean of the
College of Sciences and Arts, took on the monumental task of getting accredited itself

Accreditation is Hard to Get

NAACLS accreditation is not easily achieved. NAACLS is the premier international agency
for accreditation and approval of educational programs in the clinical laboratory
sciences and related health professions.

One of the goals of accreditation and approval is the protection of students, in addition
to the assurance of program quality. NAACLS is committed to the principles of honesty
in reporting, professional integrity and ethical conduct among officials of its programs,
staff and volunteers. 

Michigan Tech’s work involved a preliminary study of the MLS program, a self-study,
a site visit from NAACLS, and correction of any deficiencies before the NAACLS executive
board met in September and accredited Michigan Tech’s program. “The wonderful thing
was, there weren’t any deficiencies to correct, which is virtually unheard of for
a first-time program accreditation,” Fay said.

The five-year accreditation—the longest initial accreditation offered by NAACLS—enables
the University to affiliate with hospitals throughout the Upper Peninsula, elsewhere
in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and across the country. Already, Michigan Tech has
affiliated with 11 new hospitals where MLS graduates can do their practicum.

“This allows us to grow our program,” Fay said. Tech’s MLS program now has about 80
students who are spending three or four years in classes and labs on campus plus completing
a practicum.

Every MLS Graduate Gets a Job

There is such a demand for medical laboratory scientists that every graduate of the
Michigan Tech program gets three or four job offers, often before they have even graduated,
said Fay. They usually earn a starting salary of around $50,000, and wages are going
up as the need for qualified lab scientists increases. “There is such a shortage of
workers that hospitals are eager to affiliate with us,” Fay said.

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Michigan Tech’s MLS program is already expanding. The program has hired Kelsey Johnson
as MLS practicum coordinator, and Johnson was recognized this year by the American
Society of Clinical Pathology with its Young Ambassador Award for her recruitment
efforts and outreach to high school students. Fay won the Michigan Tech Distinguished
Teaching Award in 2016, and the third member of the MLS program faculty, Brigitte
Morin, received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award this year.

“We are lucky to have such amazing medical laboratory scientists and teachers running
this program,” Joshi said.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than
7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than
120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering,
forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and
social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway
and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.



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