A medical laboratory assistant is an integral member of the laboratory workforce, a field that is not only growing to meet the needs of an increasing and aging population but also changing to support medical and technological advances. A medical laboratory assistant must be accurate, self-motivated and dependable with a skilled eye for detail and strong client service skills.
The Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) program trains students to collect, process and prepare patient specimens, enter data, perform clerical and reception services, perform electrocardiograms and urinalyses and carry out basic laboratory procedures.
The first semester of the MLA program consists of classroom instruction and clinical integration which prepares students for the clinical practicum and professional job duties. The second semester involves theory on professional practice and a six-week clinical practicum arranged by SAIT which is spent in a laboratory and patient service center. The practicum provides students with opportunities to refine and apply competencies acquired at SAIT.
The program has many clinical partners located within Alberta and across Canada. Clinical placements in Calgary are limited and students must be prepared to relocate outside of Calgary for the six-week practicum. Successful candidates will be informed of the allocation of their placement by the program. There is no guarantee that students will be placed at their desired practicum location. Special considerations of personal circumstances will not be given in regard to assigning practicum placements. Students will be responsible for fees associated with their practica such as relocation and travel costs.
Certain courses may be available by distance education or continuing education. All courses must be completed within the time frame shown in the program outline. Please be advised that full-time student status requires the student to take 60% of a full course load per semester. Depending on the number of courses completed by distance education or continuing education, students may be considered a part-time student, which may impact their financial loan status.
Students in this program require access to a personal computer and the Internet to facilitate completion of required online course components.
Graduates find work as medical laboratory assistants in community collection sites, hospital rapid-response laboratories, high-volume medical laboratories and private insurance or home care companies. The employment requires flexibility (shift-work), good health and manual dexterity. Medical laboratory assistants work in laboratory environments where they may spend a considerable amount of time standing or sitting and performing tasks that may be repetitive. They must observe safety precautions to reduce the risk of exposure to infectious body fluids and dangerous chemicals. Graduates are often hired into casual positions initially which usually progress to full-time positions within one year of hire. In order to find employment, many graduates must relocate across Alberta and potentially even throughout Canada.
- Graduates of the Medical Laboratory Assistant program have a 94% employment rate.
- Students with higher secondary or post-secondary marks usually experience greater success in SAIT programs.
- In order to be successful in this program, applicants must have basic computer literacy. An acceptable computer skill level would include the ability to use word processing and communication software. Educational interaction in this program depends on these basic computer skills and medical laboratory assistants work with laboratory and hospital information systems. It is the student's responsibility to ensure the adequacy of these skills prior to program admission.
- A keyboarding/data entry speed of 30 words per minute (wpm) net or better is required. Applicants will be required to complete a program-specific keyboarding assessment (available at SAIT for a minimal fee) prior to admission to the program. This is also a requirement for employment after graduation.
- Students who experience success in this program have the following characteristics:
- the ability to follow instructions, pay close attention to detail and take precise readings
- the ability to work quickly and accurately
- good finger and manual dexterity to handle specimens and small laboratory equipment
- normal colour vision
- good communication and problem-solving skills
- good organizational skills
- the interpersonal skills and effective communication skills in English required to work well with co-workers and the public.
- Medical laboratory assistants enjoy working with people, like direct contact with patients and do not mind shift work.
Credentials and accreditation
The program is designed so that graduates achieve clinical competence as defined by the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS), which allows for national portability. The Medical Laboratory Assistant program delivered by SAIT is accredited by Accreditation Canada.
Graduates are eligible for registration and membership with the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science.
The opportunity to advance your education through transfer to, within or from SAIT is available with the following universities and colleges:·
To learn more, visit transfer options.
- Fall 2019 start: applications are accepted Oct. 3, 2018, to Aug. 2, 2019.
- Winter 2020 start: applications are accepted May 1, 2019 to Dec. 1, 2019.
Completion of the following courses or equivalents:
- at least 60% in Math 20-2 or Pure Math 10, or Math 10C
- at least 60% in English Language Arts 30-1 or English Language Arts 30-2
- at least 60% in Chemistry 20
- at least 60% in Biology 20
- all applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency prior to admission, including students educated in Canada.
SAIT evaluates international documents for admissions. After you've applied, consider our international document assessment service if your education is from outside of Canada.
Competitive entry: seven-step process
Step 1: Read the program information to see the qualities needed for student success.
Step 2: Ensure that you meet all of the admission requirements listed above.
Step 3: Review the selection of information to understand the process and deadlines
- Applications and proof of the admission requirements (transcripts and/or anticipated final grades) along with all supporting documents must be submitted to be included in the selection.
- Applicants will have one attempt to complete the selection process for this program. If you're not offered admission, you can re-apply for the next intake and you will be required to complete the selection process again.
- The first round of selection will start Oct. 22 (fall intake) or May 14 (winter intake). Applications will be reviewed daily by the Office of the Registrar and selection is performed on a weekly basis by the program.
- Applicants who apply after the program has been filled will be placed on a waitlist and may be invited to complete the selection process if a seat becomes available.
- The School of Health and Public Safety will forward a selection package to those that meet the admission requirements.
In the selection process, applicants will be ranked according to the composite score of the following criteria:
- admission requirements — course average and post-secondary education/training: 50%
- customer service, communication and teamwork skills: 25%
- keyboarding skills: 25%
- The keyboarding assessment for this program is called an MLA Discharge Summary. This is not a general typing test and requires a net speed of 30 wpm, with an accuracy of 75% to pass. Students are allotted 30 minutes to practice and receive five tries at five minutes each to pass with the best score used from the five tries taken.
- To help you prepare for your keyboard assessment, there are three keyboard websites you can practice with — typing.com, Typrx, and Mediatype. Another tip is practising by typing a page of postal codes as you will be using different keystrokes.
Applicants will be ranked according to the selection criteria outlined above. Note that academic ranking is used as part of the selection criteria.
- If you achieve a composite score of 70% in the selection package, you will be offered a seat in the program or waitlisted in ranked order, based on your composite score. Offers will be dependent on seat availability.
- If you achieve a composite score of 51-69% you will be considered for a position in the program if the program is not full by Feb. 1 (for the fall intake), or Sept. 1 (for the winter intake). Offers will be based on the highest composite score.
- Applicants with a composite score of 50% or below will be declined.
Step 5: Log in to mySAIT.ca to check your admission status. If eligible, your status will indicate that you're "in selection."
Step 6: Complete the selection package and book your MLA Discharge Summary keyboarding test.
- Once you're in the selection, firstname.lastname@example.org will send you a link to the selected package, which you'll complete in an online format.
- You must also complete the keyboarding assessment and email the results to email@example.com. To book your assessment at SAIT, contact the Testing Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate that you're registering for the MLA Discharge Summary Keyboarding Assessment. There is a $50 fee (subject to change).
- Out of town applicants may arrange the test at an alternate testing centre in their city or town by contacting email@example.com. There may be a fee and/or additional fees at the alternative testing centre.
- Selection package (for reference only).
Failure to meet anticipated final grades will result in offers being rescinded.
Communication during selection
Email is the primary source of communication during the selection process. Ensure your personal email account is managed appropriately to receive our emails, files and communications.
We recommend you add firstname.lastname@example.org and the sait.ca domain to your safe senders' list or you risk missing critical email messages. Please check your junk mail or trash folders for communication from SAIT. The program does not follow-up on selection packages which are not returned.
The School of Health and Public Safety has many practica partners located in Alberta and across Canada. Practicum placements in Calgary are limited and students may be required to relocate outside of Calgary for practicum.
Successful candidates will be informed of the allocation of their practicum placement by the program. There is no guarantee that students will be placed at their desired practicum location. Special considerations of personal circumstances will not be given in regards to assigning practicum placements. Students will be responsible for fees associated with practica such as entrance requirements, relocation and travel costs.
In compliance with the practica agreements with our clinical partners, successful candidates will be requested to provide proof of the following requirements:
- Updated immunization records: Most practicum sites require students to demonstrate updated immunization status prior to attending practicum. The receiving practicum site has the right to refuse students who cannot prove they have met all the required immunizations.
- Security clearance: According to the Protection for Persons in Care Act, our practica sites require that students obtain a Police Information Check including Vulnerable Sector Check, prior to going on practicum. Any criminal code offence for which a pardon has not been received may be a deterrent to a student's entry into practicum, and therefore will result in an uncompleted program or non-graduating status. Successful candidates will be asked to provide a clear Police Information Check including Vulnerable Sector Check record to the School of Health and Public Safety main office by orientation day. Please review the security clearance process document for specific details. Be aware that record must be dated no earlier than 90 days prior to your program orientation day (typically orientation day is held the week prior to the first day of class).
- N95 respiratory mask: Fit testing is done to determine which make and model of N95 respirator mask should be used by an individual. In compliance with Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Code 2009, students are fit-tested for respiratory masks prior to their practicum. Occupational Health and Safety Bulletin, Respiratory Protective Equipment: An Employer's Guide states the effectiveness of the respiratory protective equipment depends on an effective facepiece seal to the skin of the face. The mask must be tight enough so that the person is breathing only air which has been filtered. The seal is dependent on facial differences (shape or size) or facial hair. Facial hair must be removed where the mask contacts the face for the test. Failure to adequately fit an N95 mask may result in a restricted practicum and\or limited employment. Additionally, a student may need to be tested again in two years or if there are changes to the face which impact the ability of the respirator to form an effective seal (e.g. Weight gain/loss, a growth of facial hair, dental surgery, or facial scarring).
- Health and wellness status: Due to the demanding nature of the work in the health care field and Occupational Health and Safety requirements, the health care field has a strong focus on health and wellness. Students with a medical condition or disability that may impact them in a practicum setting are strongly advised to discuss concerns with the program academic chair and/or SAIT Accessibility Services as soon as possible upon acceptance into the program. Please review the attached document for guidance on entering an allied health program with a medical condition or disability.
More details on the practica requirements per program are outlined on a pre-orientation website for successful candidates.
- SAIT students are offered an opportunity to develop lifelong learning skills in an online environment. One or more courses in the Medical Laboratory Assistant program are offered fully or partially online.
- View additional Medical Laboratory Assistant program information including course-specific descriptions and requisites.
This program is a 21-week certificate offered over the fall/winter semesters or the winter/spring semesters
|Course code||Course name||Credit|
|INFC-215*||Infection Prevention and Control||1.5|
|MEDL-200||Clinical Laboratory Foundations||3.0|
|MEDL-203||Clinical Laboratory Testing||3.0|
|PROF-201||Professional Practice I||3.0|
|Semester 1 total||15.0|
|Course code||Course name||Credit|
|Semester 2 total||4.5|
*Available by correspondence and/or online learning. The courses must be completed within the time frame shown in the program outline. Please contact the Academic Chair prior to enrolling in any online or correspondence courses.
Please be advised that full-time student status requires students to take 60% of a full course load per semester. Depending on the number of courses completed by correspondence, a student may be considered a part-time student, which may impact his/her financial loan status and ability to qualify for certain scholarships, bursaries and awards.
Students must attain a PGPA and/or a CGPA of 2.0 or better in each semester and pass the necessary prerequisite courses to progress through the program. To qualify for graduation, students must pass all courses, attain a CGPA of 2.0 or better and complete course requirements within the prescribed timelines.
Domestic tuition and fees*
|Year||Tuition fees||SAIT fees||SAITSA fees||2018/19 total|
International tuition and fees*
|Year||Tuition fees||SAIT fees||SAITSA fees||2018/19 total|
Campus athletic and recreation fee: $160
Universal Transit Pass (UPass): $290
SAIT Students' Association fees
Health plan: $110**
Dental plan: $125**
SAIT Students' Association (SAITSA): $288
Books and supplies*
- Students are responsible for any additional expenses related to their practicum including relocation costs to practicum sites outside Calgary.
- Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) national exam fee is approximately $250.
- CSMLS national association dues for students are approximately $85.
- There is a fee associated with obtaining a Police Information Check including Vulnerable Sector Check, payable to the Police or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
- Books and supplies are approximately $700.
- Students must have a personal computer and access to the Internet. Most classes are taught at SAIT, but some require online access. All courses require additional self‐study.
- Students must have their immunizations reviewed by the SAIT Health Clinic. There is a $50 charge to review vaccine history. Any vaccines to be administered will result in additional charges.
Find out about tuition and financial aid.
* Tuition, fees, books and supply costs are subject to change.
** For students with existing health and/or dental plans, please refer to the SAITSA website for information on opting out.
School of Health and Public Safety
For Fatme, the benefits that came from the applied learning were not just knowledge and skills that would transfer directly to her career, but also confidence.
"I loved having that experience with the patients."