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School of Biological, Environmental and Earth Sciences

Essential Functions

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Essential Functions for Medical Laboratory Science Students

In order to successfully complete coursework required in Medical Laboratory Science, several "Essential Functions" must be met.  Essential functions, the nonacademic standards that a student must be able to master to participate successfully in the program, are as follows: 

Essential Visual and Observation Skills

The Medical Laboratory Science student must be able to:

  • observe laboratory demonstrations in which biological (i.e., body fluids, culture materials, tissue sections, and cellular specimens) are tested for their biochemical, hematological, immunological, microbiological, and histochemical components
  • characterize the color, odor, clarity, and viscosity of biologicals samples, reagents, or chemical reaction products.
  • utilize a clinical grade binocular microscope to discriminate among fine structural and color (hue, shading, and intensity) differences of microscopic specimens.
  • read and comprehend text, numbers, and graphs displayed in print and on a video monitor.
  • recognize alarms. 

Essential Motor and Mobility Requirements

The Medical Laboratory Science student must be able to:

  • perform laboratory testing adhering to existing laboratory safety standards
  • perform moderately taxing continuous physical work, often requiring prolonged sitting or standing, over several hours.
  • travel to assigned clinical laboratory Practicum sites.
  • reach laboratory benchtops and shelves, patients lying in hospital beds or patients seated in specimen collection furniture.
  • grasp, hold, transport, utilize specimens, reagents, hazardous chemicals and equipment in a safe manner as needed to perform laboratory testing.
  • obtain patient specimens in a timely, safe, and professional manner (e.g. perform phlebotomy).
  • use laboratory equipment (e.g. pipettes, inoculating loops, test tubes) and instruments to perform laboratory procedures according to established laboratory guidelines.
  • use a computer keyboard to operate laboratory instruments and to calculate, record, evaluate, and transmit laboratory information.
  • troubleshoot and correct basic equipment malfunctions.


Essential Communication Requirements

The Medical Laboratory Science student must be able to:

  • read and understand technical and professional materials (i.e. textbooks, journal articles, handbooks, and instruction manuals).
  • follow oral and written instructions independently.
  • clearly instruct patients regarding specimen collection.
  • demonstrate sensitivity, confidentiality and respect when speaking with patients.
  • communicate clearly, accurately and tactfully with faculty members, student colleagues, staff, and other health care professionals orally and in a recorded format (writing, typing, graphics, or telecommunications).


Essential Intellectual Requirements

The Medical Laboratory Science student must be able to:

  • comprehend, measure, calculate, reason, integrate, analyze, evaluate, correlate, problem-solve and compare.
  • recognize abnormal laboratory results (e.g. patient and QC) and take appropriate action.
  • demonstrate critical-thinking and judgment skills appropriate to a given situation.
  • independently prepare papers, prepare laboratory reports, and take paper, computer, and laboratory practical examinations. 

Essential Behavioral Requirements

The Medical Laboratory Science must be able to:

  • organize work and perform multiple tasks within given time constraints and under stressful conditions while maintaining the ability to communicate clearly.
  • be able to manage the use of time and be able to systematize actions in order to complete professional and technical tasks within realistic constraints.
  • possess the emotional health necessary to effectively apply knowledge and exercise appropriate judgment.
  • be able to provide professional and technical services while experiencing the stresses of task-related uncertainty (i.e., ambiguous test order, ambivalent test interpretation), emergent demands (i.e. "stat" test order), and distracting environment (i.e., high noise levels, crowding, complex visual stimuli).
  • be flexible and creative and adapt to professional and technical change.
  • recognize potentially hazardous materials, equipment, and situations and proceed safely in order to minimize risk of injury to patients, self, and nearby individuals.
  • adapt to working with unpleasant biologicals.
  • support and promote the activities of fellow students and of health care professionals. Promotion of peers helps furnish a team approach to learning, task completion, problem solving, and patient care.
  • be honest, compassionate, ethical, and responsible. The student must be forthright about errors or uncertainty. The student must be able to critically evaluate her or his own performance, accept and act on constructive criticism, and look for ways to improve (i.e., participate in enriched educational activities).
  • show respect for individuals of different age, ethnic background, religion, and/or sexual orientation.


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