Florida Southern College Medical Laboratory Sciences Program Earns National Accreditation

Jun 6, 2022

by Tangela Walker-Craft
Senior Writer

The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), the premier agency for the international accreditation and approval of educational programs in the clinical laboratory sciences and related health care disciplines, has fully accredited Florida Southern College’s Medical Laboratory Sciences program.

Florida Southern is one of only two private, not-for-profit institutions in Florida accredited by the NAACLS to offer the MLS degree. First introduced to FSC students in 2017, the MLS program earned accreditation in the first year it was eligible.

“We are so excited for this amazing achievement,” said Dr. Nancy Morvillo, Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology and Nelson C. White Chair in the Life Sciences. “Up to 70 percent of decisions about a patient’s health care are based on the laboratory tests done by MLS professionals. There is currently a huge shortage of MLS professionals, and the field is growing as more and more types of medical testing become available. NAACLS accreditation will greatly help attract students to our program and address this shortage, not only in Florida, but nationwide.”

Medical laboratory scientists work as detectives, investigating and working as vital members of a patient’s health care team to determine the cause of illness. They use the instrumentation to perform diagnostic analyses on patient samples and provide laboratory results to clinicians and commonly work in hospital clinical laboratories, commercial laboratories, pharmaceutical, chemical, or biotechnology companies, and in research and teaching institutions.

The Medical Laboratory Sciences program is part of the Healthcare Professional and STEM (HPSTEM) curriculum at Florida Southern. It is an allied health career opportunity for students interested in working in a clinical laboratory. The FSC Medical Laboratory Sciences program is a licensed training program by the state of Florida.

Unlike other clinical laboratory programs, Florida Southern offers MLS training as a four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Science degree. Students spend their first two years in small classes taught by FSC faculty, building an extensive foundation in the basic biological sciences. They take courses in anatomy and physiology, biology, biochemistry, chemistry, immunology, microbiology, and parasitology. After gaining advanced laboratory skills, students transition to Lakeland Reginal Health to complete their specialized medical laboratory courses, clinical internships, and a capstone course requiring an original research project.
“Smaller class sizes means that students have basically one-on-one interactions with the FSC faculty,” said Dr. Morvillo. “Our faculty get to know our students very well, so we can work with them and help them on their journey.”
A four-year program provides FSC students the opportunity to pursue higher paying jobs and affords them more opportunities as they advance in the field. A Bachelor of Science degree allows them to continue their education in Master’s and Doctoral programs. That can be an avenue to continue on to medical school. There are many more options available with a four-year degree than with a two-year certification program. 

LRH approached FSC to start this program as they found MLS professionals with Bachelor’s degrees were better prepared for the lab, and had better analytical, critical thinking and communications skills than their counterparts who had not obtained a Bachelor’s degree.

“The FSC/LRH MLS program provided me with comprehensive classroom instruction and amazing hands-on experience in the laboratory,” Katherine Hall ’22 said. “The faculty and clinical instructors were always willing to help students and ensure our success. I am extremely proud to be a graduate from this program!”

The classes FSC students take at LRH are with outstanding FSC faculty who are practicing MLS professionals. Each of them has advanced degrees and certifications in their area. They work in the hospital lab facilities and are responsible not only for the extensive testing that occurs, but also for the management of the labs. FSC students get to work in the heart of these amazing facilities with outstanding professions. There are employment opportunities for current students in the LRH hospital labs, so students can work in the labs, gaining valuable experience, even before they complete the program. 

“The engaged learning in these classes allows students to work in laboratory settings, study real world examples, and understand the essentials in each of these disciplines,” Dr. Morvillo said. “Our faculty are well versed in these areas and dedicated to engaged learning.”

“The students work with the analytical instruments, quality control, maintenance, etc. They are exposed to new technologies and procedures before they start with their clinical rotations,” said Dr. Maridaliz Rodriguez Rosado, Ph.D, MLS(ASCP)CM, Education Specialist/Medical Laboratory Scientist Coordinator, and MLS Program Director. “In addition, they have the opportunity to work at the hospital as Laboratory Assistants, that helps them to have the skills in the pre-analytical area of the lab. That makes our program very promising in comparison with other institutions.”

Medical laboratories preferentially seek graduates of NAACLS programs to assure quality, value, innovation, and safety for healthcare consumers. Approval by the NAACLS requires external peer review in which the NAACLS grants public recognition to education programs that meet established education standards in the clinical laboratory science disciplines of Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS), among other clinical laboratory disciplines.