Nov 28, 2020  
2020-2021 Academic Bulletin (July 2020 Ed) 
    
2020-2021 Academic Bulletin (July 2020 Ed)

Clinical Microbiology for Medical Laboratory Science, Certificate


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Kathy Kenwright, Ed.D., Program Director
Alex Ryder, M.D., Medical Advisor

Program Objectives

This 22-credit hour certificate provides clinical microbiology training to prepare health professionals for a career in clinical microbiology. The courses are a combination of online, on- campus, and clinical practicums performed in an accredited laboratory setting. In addition to the coursework, students will complete a six-month paid clinical internship. After completion of the certificate program, graduates are eligible to take the Technologist in Microbiology exam offered by the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP)  Board of Certification (BOC). Graduates in the program seeking employment in the field of medical laboratory science in the state of Tennessee must also obtain a license to practice from the Tennessee Medical Laboratory Board.  A passing score on the Technologist in Microbiology ASCP exam is required for licensure in Tennessee (check with the State Board for a list of other acceptable examinations). In addition to national certification, graduates would be required to have six months of clinical experience in order to get a state license. This experience could be gained through employment in a clinical laboratory while the student is enrolled in the certificate program. Graduates from this program would only qualify for employment in microbiology laboratories.

Minimum Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Bachelor’s of Science degree with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 (based on a 4.0 scale) from an accredited college or university;
  • Prerequisite courses to include:
    • Courses Hours Biology (General Biology or similar b ) 8
    • General Chemistry I and II 8
    • Organic Chemistry I 4
    • Microbiology 4
    • Anatomy and physiology 4
    • College Algebra /Statistics 3
  • Two letters of recommendation from college instructors;
  • Students with degrees older than 5 years may be required to update their science course(s);
  • Interview with the faculty;
  • Foreign applicants whose native language is not English must submit the results of the TOEFL, with a minimum score of 550 on the written, 213 on the computer test or 80 on the TOEFLiBT®;
  • Official transcripts from a foreign applicant’s native country must be evaluated course- by-course by one of the credentialing agencies approved by UTHSC. This evaluation must be sent to UTHSC’s Office of Enrollment Services on or before the program’s application deadline. Contact the Department of Clinical Laboratory Science for more information.
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Applications are accepted online at http://www.uthsc.edu/admissions/chp.php.

Application deadlines  
  • Early deadline:
  • Regular deadline:
  • Late deadline:
December 1
April 1
June 15

Health Requirements

In addition to general University of Tennessee Health Science Center requirements, Medical Laboratory Science students are required to have an annual skin test for tuberculosis and to be immunized against Neisseria meningitidis and the Hepatitis B virus.

Technical Standards

For admission to the Certificate in Clinical Microbiology for Medical Laboratory Science at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), students are expected to be able to successfully meet the Technical Standards outlined below. Students are required to sign the Technical Standards Commitment form indicating their understanding and ability to meet these standards either with or without accommodations (for persons with documented disabilities). Any questions about these technical standards should be directed to the program director of the MLS programs.

UTHSC receives applications from a diverse body of potential students including those with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations will be provided to help students meet these technical standards when appropriate, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Any student wishing accommodations should contact the Student Academic Support Services and Inclusion (SASSI) for further information. Information regarding accommodations can be found on the SASSI website page:

https://uthsc.edu/sassi/disability_services.php or by calling 901-448-5056.

In the event a student cannot fulfill these Technical Standards with or without reasonable accommodations at any time in their program, the student will be ineligible for admission or continued enrollment in the program. In addition to ensuring that students can meet the intellectual, emotion and physical criteria for medical laboratory science, it should also be noted that of utmost importance is the student’s ability to provide for the welfare and safety of their patients and others. This is the foundation of all Technical Standards and if this cannot be done, the student is unable to meet the criteria outlined by the Technical Standards.

Once enrolled in the BS MLS or MS CLS Program, students must meet the requirements of the curriculum, including the demonstration of the skills described herein for the Program in order to progress through the curriculum and to graduate.

General Standards

The students must have the ability to:

  • Assess and make appropriate judgements regarding lab services and patient outcomes.
  • Prioritize and perform laboratory testing.
  • Adapt to a variety of patient care situations, including crisis.
  • Communicate effectively in English, orally and in writing.
  • Participate in discussion in the classroom, the clinical arena and with colleagues and patients.
  • Acquire information developed through didactic instruction and clinical experiences.
  • Comprehend reading assignments and to search and evaluate literature.
  • Prepare written assignments and maintain written records.
  • Perform duties and assignments in a timely fashion while under stress and in a variety of settings.
  • Meet deadlines and manage time.
  • Utilize the computer for instructional assignments and patient care activities.

Physical and Motor Skills

The student must possess:

  • Dexterity with both wrists, hands and arms, and dexterity with all fingers.
  • Motor skills to grasp, pinch, push, pull, finger, hold, extend, rotate, cut.
  • Ability to obtain and/or verify patient samples.
  • Sufficient stamina to tolerate physically taxing workloads.
  • Ability to operate/manipulate and effectively evaluate the status of laboratory instruments and equipment.

Sensory Skills

The student must possess:

  • Visual acuity (corrected to 20/40); visual perception with respect to depth and color.
  • Cognitive, Integrative, Quantitative Skills
  • The student must possess the:
  • Ability to measure, calculate, analyze, interpret, synthesize and evaluate as applicable to clinical practice.
  • Ability to solve one or more problems within specific time frames, which are often short.
  • Ability to comprehend spatial relationships.

Affective, Behavioral and Social Skills

The student must be able to:

  • Function as part of a team (communicate effectively in English, consult, negotiate, share, delegate).
  • Delegate to and supervise others.
  • Adhere to safety guidelines for self and others.
  • Comply with standards and regulations required by external agencies.
  • Follow instructions/procedures with accuracy and precision.
  • Maintain intellectual and emotional stability and maturity under stress, while also maintaining appropriate performance standards.
  • Learn and exhibit professional attributes.

Clinical Affiliations

Clinical affiliation sites are located in Memphis and throughout Tennessee. Due to the limited number of clinical sites in Memphis, it may become necessary for students to accept the financial impact of traveling and living out of town for a portion of their clinical assignments. The Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences will make every effort to place all students on clinical rotation.  Occasionally, a scheduled clinical experience at an external site is unavailable due to circumstances beyond the control of the University; however, because the experience is required for graduation, the Medical Laboratory Science program has exercised a number of replacement options.  A student’s graduation due to lack of clinical placement could be delayed if a clinical rotation could not be secured in Memphis and the student could not be placed in one of the following:  A site outside of Memphis or a simulated laboratory experience on campus.

Program-Specific Policies

Attendance Requirement

Medical laboratory science students are expected to attend all scheduled classes, student labs, and clinical lab assignments. In the case of absence due to illness or emergency, the student must notify the medical laboratory science office and clinical site no later than 8:30AM of the day missed. For any other absences, prior arrangements must be made with the specific instructor(s) involved. Makeup tests, missed lectures, or laboratory sessions should be coordinated with the course director. Appointments for health services should not be made during scheduled class time.

Grading Policy

Written and practical examinations and performance evaluations are a part of the educational program throughout the curriculum. All courses in each term must be passed before the student is allowed to progress to the next term. No credit for any course is awarded until the end of the term. The point- grade conversion scale used by the medical laboratory science program for all courses is as follows:

94-100 = A

92-93 = A-

89-91 = B+

85-88 = B

83-84 = B-

80-82 = C+

75-79 = C

73-74 = C-

71-72 = D+

65-70 = D

Below 65 = F

Practicum courses may be graded on Pass (P)/Fail (F) criteria as indicated in course syllabi.  These grades are not included in calculating the grade point average (GPA). 

Information about grading for incompletes and withdrawals is covered in the general college section of the bulletin. Students should reference this information about grade assignments in these situations.

Curriculum Summary


The curriculum for the Certificate in Microbiology for Medical Laboratory Science consists of 2 terms.  Required courses are offered annually during the terms indicated. Students move through this program in a cohort.

Completion Requirements


Admitted students complete courses in a part-time, lock-step manner over 12 months. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required for successful completion of the certificate program.

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