4 Institutions Offering a Medical Lab Assistant Certificate

Updated October 23, 2022

Medical lab assistants are responsible for preparing patients and collecting their specimens or samples during medical tests to diagnose their health conditions. While you can practise as a lab assistant without a certification, getting one may make it easier to demonstrate your competence during the recruitment process. Learning about the institutions offering a medical laboratory assistant certification and their general requirements can help you determine how to approach getting certified. In this article, we discuss what a medical lab assistant certificate is, highlight the benefits of getting one, outline four institutions offering this certification, and examine their general academic requirements.

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What is a medical lab assistant certificate?

A medical lab assistant certificate is a qualification you can obtain through an academic or vocational program that prepares professionals for laboratory duties. These include collecting specimens, conducting electrocardiograms, performing a urinalysis, organizing patient data, and completing other basic laboratory procedures. The programs that provide this certificate allow professionals to meet the demands of hospitals, pharmaceutical laboratories, veterinary clinics, chiropractic facilities, and community clinics. This certificate helps prepare you for a fast-paced career as a medical laboratory assistant while also training you to handle administrative tasks.

Benefits of a medical laboratory assistant certification

Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy from pursuing a certification as a medical laboratory assistant:

National recognition

Many medical laboratory assistants carry out their functions without certifications. Pursuing a certification offers professionals the opportunity to distinguish themselves within an unregulated field. Acquiring a certificate from the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) provides national recognition. This recognition enables you to practise in any location rather than restricting you to the province or territory awarding your certificate. It's helpful to select institutions that the CSMLS accredits to ensure your certification has national recognition.

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Professional trustworthiness

Certifications serve as evidence of competence, which encourages professional trustworthiness. For instance, patients are more likely to trust certified professionals, and you're also likely to feel more confident in your abilities when certified. A more confident approach to your tasks can contribute to higher job satisfaction and fulfillment in your role. Acquiring a medical laboratory assistant certification at a national or provincial or territorial level can also help you succeed in your role as the exams are typically competence-based.

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Multiple yearly sittings

While pursuing certification can often be combined with existing professional responsibilities, it may be necessary to work around those commitments when it comes to taking the exam. For instance, the number of sittings the CSMLS offers allows you to determine the most suitable period to conduct your certifying exam. Professionals can sit for their exams in February, June, or October. Choosing the most appropriate exam period for you can also help you select an institution with a convenient schedule to help you prepare ahead of your preferred month.

Educational institutions offering MLA certification

Here are four educational institutions offering medical laboratory assistant certification:

1. Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Saskatchewan Polytechnic offers a medical laboratory assistant program that you can complete within 27 weeks. The polytechnic combines on-site and distance learning programs for its students to ensure they can participate in laboratory and clinical practicals. The program provides 11 weeks of clinical training over five supervised clinical practicals at various laboratory locations. During each practical, you can focus on areas like specimen management, phlebotomy, microbiology, and cytology. Saskatchewan Polytechnic's program selects 16 students annually and offers an intensive workload.

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2. Thompson Rivers University

Thompson Rivers University offers the majority of its medical laboratory assistant program online. This program is relatively flexible and allows you to adjust your studying requirements according to your schedule and availability. The university provides five theory courses, a clinical practicum in a laboratory or hospital, and a five-day workshop. The program is also highly flexible as it allows you to complete courses within a timeframe suitable to your schedule. While the ideal timeframe is 20 to 24 weeks per course and a year for the program, you can take 30 weeks for each course and two years for the program.

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3. Vancouver Community College

Vancouver Community College's medical lab assistant certificate is available on-site for full-time students and spans six months from either May or September starting dates. The college divides its program into two levels. The first level spans 20 weeks, and the second level four weeks. The program's first level focuses on combining practical and theoretical skills. Students gather practical experience in laboratories alongside supervisors. In contrast, theoretical skills are available via lectures, presentations, and workshops. The second level of the program offers a four-week practicum.

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4. Camosun College

Camosun College offers a full-time medical laboratory assistant program for 10 months. The college also prepares students for the transition from the program into professional opportunities through practicum placements around Vancouver Island. You can combine various learning approaches, including traditional classroom interactions, practical simulation labs, and digitally enhanced applied learning. The college divides its program into three academic terms. The first term focuses on practical phlebotomy and venipuncture. In the second academic term, students focus on developing technical laboratory skills. The college offers a seven-week practicum aligned with CSMLS national requirements during the final term.

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General requirements for medical laboratory assistant certificates

Here are some of the general requirements for getting certified as a medical laboratory assistant:

Computer skills

Programs require different levels of computer or software competence from students. This requirement helps determine your ability to handle administrative functions. Programs commonly use keyboarding speed and accuracy to assess your computer skills but differ in their requirements. For instance, Saskatchewan Polytechnic's medical laboratory assistant program requires a 45 words per minute keyboarding speed and a 98% keyboarding accuracy. Conversely, the Thomson Rivers University program requires 40 words per minute of keyboarding speed.

Grade 12 graduation or equivalent

Institutions offering medical laboratory assistant certifications require you to graduate from Grade 12 or possess an equivalent degree. You can fulfill this requirement when applying by tendering a transcript from your academic institution. The transcript also helps you satisfy other academic requirements, like minimum grades in specific subjects. Institutions' academic requirements vary as some have unique grading systems and course equivalents. For instance, the Camosun College medical laboratory assistant program requires at least a B in English 12 and Math 10 and a C in Biology 12 and Chemistry 11.

English language competence

Most institutions require their students to demonstrate competence or proficiency in English. This requirement is usually relevant to international candidates and students. Institutions can also require home students to prove their knowledge of English as a subject with a minimum grade. For instance, you can fulfill this requirement with a minimum of a B grade on your transcript. Conversely, international students usually satisfy this requirement by taking English language proficiency tests in line with the stipulations of the medical laboratory assistant certificate program.

Criminal record check

The requirement of students to consent to a criminal record and background check is usually a condition after acceptance. Institutions conduct this check to qualify students' access to laboratories and other health facilities. This also helps to ensure that individuals can work with vulnerable people, the elderly, or children. Some institutions require students to provide evidence of vulnerable sector and criminal record checks. It's also a requirement to fund the costs of conducting the applicable background checks.

Immunization tests

Most academic institutions require various immunization tests to ensure students in the field are fit to participate in the program and collaborate in laboratory spaces. The province or territory where you obtain your certification can influence the requirements for immunization records. For instance, your program might require you to take canister respirator tests ahead of practicums. General immunization requirements concern negative results of infections like influenza, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, measles, and polio.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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