For some time now, there continues to be some confusion between the terms Medical Technologist (MT) and Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS). Are they synonymous? We will now elaborate on the history of this profession, explain the reason for this ambiguity, and clarify the correct name for this profession.
Medical laboratorians have been a recognized profession for nearly a century. This profession first emerged when laboratory pathologists realized the need for highly trained professionals. With this great need, multiple organizations took the initiative to create a form of accreditation for qualified medical laboratorians to assist pathologists in performing advanced medical laboratory procedures.
One of the oldest accrediting agencies, the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel (NCA), offered a board exam to individuals who have successfully completed their bachelors in Medical Technology. Those who have successfully completed their educational requirements and have passed the exam were awarded the title Clinical Laboratory Scientists (CLS), and were eligible to work in hospital laboratories.
Another accrediting agency, the ASCP Board of Registry (BOR), was founded in 1928 by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). They too offered a board exam to individuals who have successfully completed their bachelors in an accredited Medical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology program. Those who have successfully completed their educational requirements and have passed the board exam were awarded the title Medical Technologist (MT), and are entitled to use the credential “MT (ASCP)” after their names.
On July 21, 2009, the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel (NCA) and the ASCP Board of Registry (BOR) signed a merger agreement, forming one single certification agency for laboratory professionals. This newly established agency was named the ASCP Board of Certification (BOC). This new agreement took effect on October 23, 2009. The ASCP BOC is an individual certifying agency within the ASCP association. Individuals who have completed their educational requirements (usually a bachelors degree in medical laboratory science) and have successfully passed the board exams are awarded the title Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS), and may use the credential “MLS” after their names.
This merger was formed to create a singe major certification organization for new individuals coming into the profession. Prior to this merger, the two accrediting agencies often times caused confusion as to which one is the “official” one. This unification simplifies the path towards having a career as a laboratorians and is a major step forward for this profession. Although some hospitals may still refer to them as Medical Technologists, the correct title given to professionals who have completed their educational requirements and have passed the boards is Medical Laboratory Scientist, MLS (ASCP).