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Saint Louis University to roll out accelerated medical laboratory science program to help fill void in healthcare industry nationwide

A shortage of Medical Laboratory Scientists (MLS) predates the pandemic, but their role in coronavirus pandemic put the profession center stage.
A shortage of Medical Laboratory Scientists (MLS) predates the pandemic, but their role in coronavirus pandemic put the profession center stage.
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 5:49 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) -A new accelerated bachelor’s of science program at Saint Louis University will aim to lessen the shortage of medical laboratory scientists in the healthcare industry.

For 85 years, the university has offered a traditional, four-year program to students, according to program director Amanda Reed.

“The goal of this accelerated program is to fill the vacancies that exist nationwide, while not cutting corners of our long-standing and successful traditional program,” Reed said.

To qualify, students will have to have completed a series of biology and chemistry courses, or have undergraduate degrees in those fields. The program is a hybrid model, with much of the learning taking place online, while also placing students in clinical healthcare settings.

“The average age of a laboratory professional is at or near retirement age, so the workforce has been aging out for quite a few years,” Reed said. “In addition to that, there are not as many MLS programs available as there once were, so there are not as many graduates meeting that demand. The pandemic only exacerbated that shortage.”

During the pandemic, medical laboratory scientists were responsible for analyzing PCR COVID-19 tests, in addition to the dozens of other tests ordered by doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Reed said currently, there are around 40 students in the 4-year program at St. Louis University. She is hopeful the accelerated track will be appealing to those looking for a career change or simply a fast-paced, diverse career.

“Because these professionals are behind the scenes and not patient-facing, it’s not a career path that’s thought about or considered by many people,” she said. “But here at St. Louis University, we have a 100 percent placement rate six months after graduation.”

The university is partnering with ORBIS Education Services, a company that is helping to place students outside of the St. Louis region in healthcare settings to complete their clinicals.

The program will begin in the fall of 2022 and last four semesters. There will be two other starts during the academic year, one in the spring and another in the summer.

To learn more about the program, click here.