Medical Laboratory Assistant

Applied Certificate
Medical Laboratory Assistant

Program Overview

Medical laboratory assistants work directly with other health care providers and patients and in the exciting laboratory setting. You collect health information and medical specimens from patients, but you also enter clerical data, process specimens and assist with basic laboratory activities. It’s a job that requires good people and communication skills, a professional yet caring attitude and a commitment to teamwork and excellence, as well as attention to detail.

Medical lab assistants are in demand in many areas. Look for jobs in hospitals, community clinics, medical offices, research and pharmaceutical labs, veterinary clinics, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices and more.

International applicants are not currently considered for admission to this program.

Medical Laboratory Assistant is a nationally accredited 27-week applied certificate program offered at Saskatchewan Polytechnic Saskatoon campus . Some classes are also available through distance education. Labs and clinical experiences are a big part of the program, so expect hands-on training in:

  • anatomy and physiology
  • basic lab procedures
  • histology and cytology
  • infection control and safety
  • microbiology     
  • specimen collection and handling

Put Your Learning to Work

You’ll participate in five supervised clinical experiences, for a total of 11 weeks of training. Each will give you practical experience in a specific area: histology and cytology, specimen management, phlebotomy and microbiology. These clinical experiences take place at various sites around the province.

Ladder into a Saskatchewan Polytechnic Diploma

You can transfer several Medical Laboratory Assistant courses into Saskatchewan Polytechnic Health Sciences diploma programs, including Combined Laboratory and X-Ray Technology, Cytotechnology, Medical Laboratory Technology and Medical Radiologic Technology.

Learning Environment

Each year, 16 students are accepted to this program. You can use this applied certificate to ladder into Combined Laboratory and X-ray Technology, Medical radiologic Technology, Therapeutic Recreation Worker, and Funeral Service programs at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

Students will experience a mix of traditional lectures, web-assisted learning, homestudy, practical and clinical labs. For this program, there is a heavy workload with 15 - 20 hours/week of homework. Classes are Monday - Friday with variable hours between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Clinical practicum hours will coincide with health care hours, and may include early morning start times (5 or 6 a.m.), evening, night, and weekend shifts.

Lectures and Practical labs: Saskatoon

Clinical Practicum Experiences
Clinical practicum placement may occur at any approved site in Saskatchewan.

  • 11 weeks at various sites around Saskatchewan
  • Alternate sites may be required to meet program requirements.

Clinical practicum experiences are assigned by the Medical Diagnostics Committee on Practicum Placements (COPP). Students will have an opportunity to rank their preferred clinical sites. However, due to limited clinical placements in each location there is no guarantee that students will receive a clinical site assignment from their list of preferred sites. Students must be prepared to attend their assigned placement at any of the clinical sites in the province.

Not all clinical facilities are easily accessible by public transportation; students assigned to these sites must have access to personal transportation. Students are responsible for travel, accommodation arrangements and costs, to, during and from their clinical experience. Students will continue with their didactic studies through online learning while on their clinical experience, and stable internet access is required.

Enrolment in the program will require acceptance of a clinical placement anywhere within Saskatchewan. Clinical placements are determined during the program closer to the dates for practicum experiences.

 

Career and Salary Information

Your Career

As a medical laboratory assistant, you could work in a hospital, community clinic, medical office, research lab, pharmaceutical lab, veterinary clinic, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices and more. Look for job opportunities with regional health districts, government health agencies, educational institutions and private labs.

Potential Careers

Sample Job TitleNOC Classification1Earning Potential2
Laboratory Assistant (multidisciplinary)Medical Laboratory Technicians and Pathologists' Assistants (3212)$41,600 - $95,400
Senior Laboratory AssistantMedical Laboratory Technicians and Pathologists' Assistants (3212)$41,600 - $95,400

Length and Start Date

Start Date(s): November
Length: 27 weeks

Locations

  • Saskatoon

Admissions

Admission Requirements

  • 45 words per minute keyboarding speed with 98% accuracy (5-minute testing report to be submitted with transcripts); (Testing is available through Saskatchewan Polytechnic Testing Services). A completed Keyboarding Test Results Form must be submitted to Registration Services.
  • Grade 12 with a minimum grade of 70% in each of English Language Arts A30, English Language Arts B30, Foundations of Math 20 or Foundations of Math 30 or Pre-Calculus 30*, Health Science 20 or Biology 30*, and Physical Science 20 or Chemistry 30*
  • English Language Requirement (see Program-Specific ELP Requirements section)

*Previous Saskatchewan biology, chemistry, and mathematics requirements also accepted:

  • Biology 20
  • Chemistry 20
  • Math 20 or any 30-level math

Note

  • Accepted applicants will be required to provide evidence of a Criminal Record Check and Vulnerable Sector Search upon admission into the program. At the discretion of the practicum agency, you may be declined access to a clinical or work placement based on the contents of the Criminal Record Check and Vulnerable Sector Search. The cost of the Criminal Record Check and Vulnerable Sector Search is your responsibility.
  • Accepted applicants are required to provide current immunization records and meet Saskatchewan Polytechnic immunization requirements prior to entry into clinical practicum.
  • Accepted applicants are required to provide evidence of current N95 and canister respirator mask testing prior to start of clinical practicums as directed by the program. N95 and canister respirator mask testing is valid for two (2) years from the date of completion. Retesting may be required during your studies. The cost of N95 and canister respirator mask testing is your responsibility.
  • Accepted applicants are required to provide evidence of 2015 WHMIS Globally Harmonized System (GHS) certification upon admission into the program. Recertification will be required every three years to remain current. The cost of WHMIS certification is your responsibility. Register for WHMIS.
  • Accepted applicants will be required to provide evidence of Transferring Lifting Repositioning (TLR®) Object Moving certification or Safe Moving and Repositioning Techniques (SMART®) certification upon admission to the program. TLR® or SMART® certification is valid for three (3) years from the date of completion. Recertification may be required during your studies. The cost of TLR® or SMART® certification is your responsibility. Register for TLR.

Alternative Admission

Applicants who do not possess the academic qualifications for a program may be admitted if evidence of probable success can be established through an alternative admission assessment. Interested individuals should still apply. Applicants are automatically considered for alternative admission. However, some specific admission requirements may still need to be met. Refer to the ACCUPLACER© cut scores for this program below, and review additional details concerning Alternative Admission.



ACCUPLACER©

  • 250 Arithmetic
  • 256 Reading
  • 250 Writing
  • 4 Writeplacer

Admission Method

First Qualified/First Admitted

The First Qualified/First Admitted (FQFA) process is used for the majority of Saskatchewan Polytechnic programs. When we determine that you meet the program's admission requirements, you will be offered admission based on the date you fully qualify for the program. The earlier you provide the appropriate documents and information that qualify you for admission to the next intake, the earlier you might begin your studies. Your application, once qualified, is always considered for the next intake. 

Applicants to programs with multiple intakes in an academic year remain in the application pool until the last intake for that academic year has begun. Programs using the FQFA process receive applications year round and maintain an application pool for each academic year. Qualified applicants who are not offered a seat must reapply for the next academic year. 

Sponsored programs or programs targeted to specific groups do not accept applications year round or maintain an application pool.

See Admission Processes for more information about this method of admission.

Tuition and Fees

Estimates are based on current rates and are subject to change. Amounts for a program may vary by campus. Totals shown here include all mandatory fees as well as approximate cost for books and supplies. Visit the Tuition and Fees web page for a complete breakdown of tuition and fees for this program.

 

2021/22 Academic Year

$13,375

Additional programs costs that students are responsible for include:

  • CPR C/AED (Health Care Provider) – recognized by the program for two years from date of certification. If expires during programming student must recertify.
    • approx. $130 to $160
  • Criminal Record Check with Vulnerable Sector Search
    • approx. $75
  • Immunizations
    • no cost if immunizations are completed with a Saskatchewan Polytechnic Health Nurse.
    • completed outside of Saskatchewan Polytechnic fees range from $90 to $120 for Hepatitis B series
  • Mask FIT Testing – both required
    • N95 - approx. $75 to $125
    • Canister - approx. $75 to $125
    • Mask Fit testing is recommended to be updated annually, however, it is mandatory to be updated every two years. If expiry date occurs during programming student must re-submit proof of testing to the program. Cost of re-testing is the student's responsibility.
  • WHMIS 2015 - Globally Harmonized System (GHS) certification
    • Approx. $35
  • Students will be required to purchase an iPad or table size device for use within the program. Associated expenses are the students' responsibility.
Code
Name/Description
Credits
 
APHY 189
Anatomy and Physiology
3
Show course details
You will be introduced to the study of the human body and how it functions efficiently. You will study various body systems that are of critical importance for the promotion and maintenance of health.
Credit Units: 3
Course Hours: 40.0
Equivalent Course(s): APHY 188, APHY 189CE, NURS 111
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Theory, Online, Print Distance Group, Prior Learning
CLIN 198
Clinical ECG
2
Show course details
You will participate in a supervised clinical experience at an assigned clinical site. Upon successfully completing this experience, you will be able to competently perform ECGs.
Credit Units: 2
Course Hours: 37.0
Prerequisites(s): SIMU 280 or SIMU 100
Potential Learning Method(s): Clinical/Practicum, Prior Learning
ECRD 180
Electrocardiography
3
Show course details
Your studies will focus on the theoretical aspects required to perform electrocardiograms. The course content includes recording techniques, recognizing artifacts and identifying remedies to minimize them, and recognizing basic cardiac arrhythmias.
Credit Units: 3
Course Hours: 45.0
Equivalent Course(s): ECRD 180CE
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Lab, Online, Prior Learning
ETHC 185
Professional Practices 1
3
Show course details
You will receive an introduction to health care and health care delivery systems. You will study the legal and ethical issues faced by health care professionals. You will discuss interpersonal and employability skills required in health care professions with an emphasis on teamwork, communication and stress management. You will learn methods to deal with grief and loss, in addition to skills and techniques for critical thinking and conflict management.
Credit Units: 3
Course Hours: 42.0
Equivalent Course(s): ETHC 185CE, HUMR 182
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Theory, Print Distance Group, Prior Learning
HSTC 188
Introduction to Histology & Cytology
2
Show course details
You will receive the theory and practice required to assist with the preparation of clinical specimens for microscopic examination. The course content includes specimen receiving and processing, block preparation and basic staining.
Credit Units: 2
Course Hours: 32.0
Prerequisites(s): APHY 189(concurrent), MTER 180, PROC 180(concurrent), PROC 181(concurrent)
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Lab, Online, Prior Learning
INFC 180
Infection Control and Safety
2
Show course details
You will study the transmission of microorganisms, blood-borne pathogens (i.e. hepatitis virus and HIV), routine practices, isolation procedures, immunization for medical workers, sterilization and disinfection, biohazard waste, safety and WHMIS.
Credit Units: 2
Course Hours: 25.0
Equivalent Course(s): INFC 180CE
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Lab, Online, Print Distance Group, Print Distance Individual, Prior Learning
MICR 190
Introduction to Microbiology
2
Show course details
You will receive the theory and practice required to culture routine microbiology specimens. You will discuss media composition, autoclaving and quality control. The course content includes stool preparation for parasitology examination and Gram staining.
Credit Units: 2
Course Hours: 30.0
Prerequisites(s): MTER 180, PROC 180(concurrent), PROC 181(concurrent)
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Lab, Online, Prior Learning
MTER 180
Medical Terminology
1
Show course details
You will learn to use the prefixes, suffixes and combining forms from which medical terms are derived. You will also learn to use medical abbreviations.
Credit Units: 1
Course Hours: 10.0
Equivalent Course(s): MED 161, MTER 180CE
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Theory, Online, Print Distance Group, Print Distance Individual, Prior Learning
PRAC 127
Specimen Management Practicum
7
Show course details
You will participate in a supervised clinical experience. Upon successfully completing this experience, you will be able to perform specimen accessioning and several specific procedures in the clinical laboratory.
Credit Units: 7
Course Hours: 108.0
Prerequisites(s): SIMU 100
Potential Learning Method(s): Clinical/Practicum, Prior Learning
PRAC 128
Phlebotomy Practicum
5
Show course details
You will participate in a supervised clinical experience. Upon successfully completing this experience, you will be able to perform phlebotomy.
Credit Units: 5
Course Hours: 72.0
Prerequisites(s): SIMU 100
Potential Learning Method(s): Clinical/Practicum, Prior Learning
PRAC 129
Histology & Cytology Preparation
4
Show course details
You will participate in a supervised clinical experience. Upon successfully completing this experience, you will be able to assist with routine histological/cytological specimen preparation.
Credit Units: 4
Course Hours: 65.0
Prerequisites(s): SIMU 100
Potential Learning Method(s): Clinical/Practicum, Prior Learning
PRAC 130
Microbiology Preparation
5
Show course details
You will participate in a supervised clinical experience. Upon successfully completing this experience, you will be able to prepare culture media, autoclave and assist with specimen culture and preparation.
Credit Units: 5
Course Hours: 72.0
Prerequisites(s): SIMU 100
Potential Learning Method(s): Clinical/Practicum, Prior Learning
PROC 180
General Laboratory Practice
2
Show course details
You will receive the theory and practice required to perform basic procedures in a laboratory. The course content includes laboratory glassware, use of balances, centrifuges, thermal equipment, pH meters, microscopes and solution preparation with related calculations.
Credit Units: 2
Course Hours: 37.0
Prerequisites(s): INFC 180
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Lab, Online, Prior Learning
PROC 181
Specimen Collection and Handling
3
Show course details
You will learn how to collect, handle and transport various laboratory specimens to ensure the quality of laboratory results. The collection of blood specimens will be emphasized. You will practice venous collection on a variety of simulation training aids.
Credit Units: 3
Course Hours: 40.0
Prerequisites(s): INFC 180
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Lab, Online, Print Distance Group, Prior Learning
PROC 183
Introduction to Basic Lab Procedures
3
Show course details
You will receive the theory and practice required to perform basic procedures in the clinical laboratory areas of specimen management, hematology and clinical chemistry. You will discuss the role of quality assurance including the importance of critical thinking strategies. You will demonstrate techniques for erythrocyte sedimentation rate, preparing and staining peripheral smears, macroscopic urine testing and point-of care testing.
Credit Units: 3
Course Hours: 45.0
Prerequisites(s): MTER 180, PROC 180(concurrent), PROC 181(concurrent)
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Lab, Online, Prior Learning
SIMU 100
Clinical Orientation
2
Show course details
You will participate in a 30 hour simulation to help prepare you for your clinical experience. The course will focus on skill development in laboratory and ECG. The experience will assist you to correlate your theory to real patient situations. You will demonstrate your ability to prioritize, organize, and implement procedures. Your ability to apply professional practice will be stressed. You will discuss workplace documents and effective job search strategies.
Credit Units: 2
Course Hours: 30.0
Prerequisites(s): ECRD 180, ETHC 185, PROC 183, HSTC 188, MICR 190
Potential Learning Method(s): Lab/Practical, Online

Get Credit for What You Know

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

Saskatchewan Polytechnic recognizes that adults learn in many different ways. This includes acquiring knowledge and skills through life and work experience or non-formal training.  See links below to more information about PLAR and detailed PLAR candidate guides for courses in this program.


Transfer Credit

Many Sask Polytech students benefit from transferring course credit. You may be eligible to transfer credit to Sask Polytech or to another college or university.

Student Awards

Thanks to the generosity of donors and alumni, Saskatchewan Polytechnic gives away more than $2 million in student awards during the academic year.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic offers student awards for every certificate and diploma program at every campus. Not all student awards are based on marks - some are based on financial need or things like community or volunteer involvement.

More about scholarships

Accreditation

Accreditation Canada/EQual Canada has accorded the MLA program full accredited status for a 6 year term.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic's Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) program is an accredited program. Program content is based on the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science MLA competency profile, with topics added as appropriate for addressing local needs.

Graduates are eligible to write the national Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) certification exam. Certification is the accepted standard for many jobs - it also allows you to work anywhere in Canada.

The cost of CSMLS MLA national certification examination is the responsibility of the student. For more information, see www.csmls.org/About-Us/What-We-Do/Certification.aspx.

Additional Information

Related Programs