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Medical Laboratory Technician Assistant Program

Program Overview

Westervelt College's full-time Medical Laboratory Assistant program gives you the hands-on instruction you need from experienced instructors to succeed as a Medical Laboratory Technician/Assistant in the private or public sector.

We aim to:

  • Prepare students for the competitive medical laboratory field
  • Prepare students for entry-level employment in hospital laboratories, private laboratories, private clinics and research
  • Align our curriculum to both the provincial and national certification bodies by aligning our objectives to the accreditation criteria
  • Prepare students to write the provincial exam (MLPAO) and national exam (CSMLS)
  • Encourage the students to become passionate about their profession by continuing education and taking an active role in the MLPAO and CSMLS

Medical Laboratory Assistant & Technician Industry Associations

equal accreditation canada

* Currently only the Westervelt College London campus is accredited.


Program Courses

The objective of the Medical Laboratory Technician / Assistant is to provide graduates with the skills and knowledge that enable them to qualify for entry-level positions as a medical laboratory technician assistant. The 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. Upon successful completion of the MLTA diploma program, graduates are qualified to write a third party examination and achieve their “Certified Lab Technician / Assistant” designation through the Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario (MLPAO), formerly Ontario Society of Medical Technologists (OSMT). All examinations are at the option and expense of the graduate and Westervelt encourages students to become certified.

Course Prerequisite 

  • Successful Completion of entrance evaluation
  • English Proficiency
  • Admissions Interview
  • Westervelt Medical Check Form* (completed within 30 days of program start date) and a clear criminal record check with vulnerable sector screening

*NOTE: Externship sites may request additional immunizations

Course Duration & Schedule (55 Weeks, 1240 Hours) The MLTA program runs 20 hours per week. Please see your enrollment agreement for specific days of the week and hours per day.

Externship (300 hours)

As a mandatory component of our programs, all Westervelt students are required to complete an off-site externship term. Externships occur at various locations throughout the college's area. This essential module allows students to exercise the skills learned in class, learn specific applications and to further enhance their learning experience in the practical setting.

Anatomy, Physiology, and Medical Terminology (MLA-APTE 80 hours)

This course will assist the student to increase his/her foundational knowledge of the normal structures and functions of the major organ systems. This course will also assist the student to identify the common pathologies of the various organ systems and familiarize him/her to the relevant tests utilized for proper diagnosis. In addition, the student will gain an appreciation for the physical and biochemical changes from early childhood to the senior years. Students will also be introduced to students to the basic prefixes, root words, and suffixes that form medical words.

Professionalism, Ethics, and Legislation (MLA-ETHICS 40 hours)

This course is intended to introduce and reinforce the students to the morals and conduct that govern the Medical Laboratory Assistant/Technician profession. Students will study the Standards of Practice outlined by both the MLPAO and CSMLS. In addition, they will learn what it means to be a professional and how to conduct themselves with integrity and remain patient focused. They will learn about being a productive member of the health care team and how to interact with other health care professionals. The legislation that governs the profession will also be studied in depth so that students can integrate the ethics, standards of practice, and legislation in everything they do.

Safety and Laboratory Essentials (MLA-SAFE 160 hours)

This course will introduce the student to the concept of safety in the laboratory environment for both patients, co-workers and medical laboratory assistant. This course will explore general safety measures, employee safety, and occupational health and safety issues. In addition, introduction to specimen handling, storage, shipping and disposal of biological hazards, bloodborne pathogens in accordance with current government legislation and regulations and institutional policies. Emergency response plan will be reviewed and discussed. A component of this course will provide students with the theory and practical application of the use, care and maintenance of common laboratory equipment. This course will also provide students with proper techniques and processes related to specimen procurement, processing, and data collection. It will also illustrate how to determine the suitability of a sample for the test required. Students will learn how to apply the correct specimen procurement and processing techniques related to phlebotomy. They will recognize laboratory equipment, instruments, and supplies. Students will also learn about the various laboratory glassware and plasticware and demonstrate their proper use. Finally, students will develop the knowledge of the proper usage and care of the microscope.

Hematology and Immunohematology (MLA-HEMA 40 hours)

The student will develop an understanding of the specimen requirements for routine Hematology and Immunohematology tests. The student will gain an understanding of reference ranges for routine tests and the significance of variant results. The student will learn about automated analyzers and their role in Hematology and Immunohematology. The student will gain an understanding of the various blood products used in the clinical setting.

ECG Fundamentals (MLA-ECGF 32 hours)

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the cardiovascular system and electrocardiography. Students will learn about the heart and the circulation of blood through the body. In addition, they will learn how to monitor vital signs and recognize reportable values. They will also learn about the conduction system and the electrical activity of the heart. This course will teach students to perform ECGs and understand the importance of accurate, artifact-free recordings. They will learn to recognize artifact, correct for it, and recognize emergency situations.

Clinical Chemistry (MLA-CHEM 32 hours)

The student will develop an understanding of the specimen requirements for routine clinical chemistry tests. The student will gain an understanding of reference ranges for routine clinical chemistry tests and the significance of variant results. The student will learn about automated analyzers from quality control, quality assessment, to the loading of samples. They will also learn how to explain the proper specimen collection requirements including special handling for all common clinical chemistry tests.

Urinalysis and Body Fluids (MLA-URIN 32 hours)

This course introduces the student to the study of body fluids including urine, cerebral spinal fluid, synovial fluid, serous fluids, seminal fluid, and miscellaneous other fluids. This course discusses the physiological process of fluid production and abnormalities that may alter this production. Included are discussions about specimen collection and analysis and the controllable and non-controllable pre-analytical, analytical, and post-analytical variables that can affect testing. The student applies this theory to the clinical lab using current diagnostic techniques and instrumentation to correlate lab results with disease processes.

Microbiology (MLA-MICRO 32 hours)

This course introduces participants to the basic knowledge of the physical and chemical properties of clinically significant microorganisms. In addition to the discussion of the principles of basic microbiological technique, the emphasis will be on describing phenotypic characteristics of clinically relevant organisms and the principles of antimicrobial action. It will provide students with an understanding of routine procedures, such as the collection and processing of specimens. One of the top priorities is ensuring that microorganisms are cultured properly so that they can be identified. Students will become aware of the various uses and applications of equipment and culture techniques to grow, identify, and determine the appropriate antimicrobial treatment for a wide range of infections.

Histology and Cytology (MLA-HISTO 40 hours)

This course will provide students with an understanding of Histology and Cytology. By studying these two disciplines, students will gain a better understanding of the functions of the human body as well as the pathologies that afflict it. They will be instructed on proper specimen collection and handling. They will also be taught the steps in tissue processing. Appropriate safety procedures will be outlined. They will be taught the reagents that are used in tissue processing and how difficult the process can be. The student will demonstrate an understanding of the theory behind routine anatomical pathology procedures such as routine fixation, decalcification, processing, embedding, cutting and staining of histological/cytological samples.

Laboratory Skills and Practice (MLA-SKILLS 248 hours)

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an understanding of routine procedures, such as the collection and processing of specimens. They will continue to practice phlebotomy and specimen procurement, but also learn routine pre-analytical procedures for Hematology, ECG, reagent preparation and quality assurance, clinical chemistry, urinalysis, microbiology, and histology/cytology. All skills will be practiced throughout the program with assessments being completed at different intervals. This course is to run concurrently with theory courses. The integration of the competency guidelines for the Medical Laboratory Professionals Association of Ontario (OSMT) and the Canadian Society for Medical Science (CMSLS) will be applied throughout the course.

Laboratory Math and Analytical Quality Assurance (MLA-MAQC 40 hours)

This course is designed to provide the Medical Laboratory Technician Assistant with a fundamental mathematical foundation for use in the medical laboratory. It includes a basic understanding of mathematics, measurements, dilutions, solutions, logarithms, graphs, statistics and quality control, as well as specific applications in chemistry, hematology, urinalysis, quality assurance, and quality control.

Communications & CPR (36 hours)

In this course, students learn to build your understanding, with a structured process, of how your mind works, and how you can control the way you think to achieve success. In addition to the Thought Patterns for a Successful Career, you will benefit from the Enriched Academy’s program to teach you how to manage your money and build a solid financial future.

Computers (40 hours)

This course provides a basic overview of using a computer, accessing the internet and basic word processing skills.

Comprehensive Exam and Lab A (28 hours)

The comprehensive will examine the knowledge and expertise of each student in the Medical Laboratory Technician/Assistant program. The Theory Exam covers the different courses of the term and provides a measurement of how well the students have integrated the material. The Practical Exam tests the skills they have learned to date to determine where more practice may be needed.

Comprehensive Exam and Lab B (20 hours)

The comprehensive will examine the knowledge and expertise of each student in the Medical Laboratory Technician/Assistant program. The Theory Exam covers the different courses of the term and provides a measurement of how well the students have integrated the material. The Practical Exam tests the skills they have learned to date to determine where more practice may be needed.

Job Search (20 hours)

This unit will provide the student with the basics to create an effective and usable resume and the skills to be effective at searching for a job. The students will also become comfortable with being interviewed and know what to expect when entering an interview.

Externship (300 hours)

The purpose of the externship is to allow students to continue to practice their skills in an actual work setting. They will learn first-hand how to deal with real-life situations and gain experience within the field. By training within the clinical setting, students will gain an understanding of how to react or act proactively within different situations. They will gain knowledge and practical experience to help develop their understanding of employer expectations. Students will be given the given the opportunity to become proficient at specimen handling and be able to function as a member of a laboratory team. The externship is to be completed in clinical settings, public laboratories, and private laboratories outside of the school.

Note: Practicums are offsite and will require the student to make arrangements to get to their assigned practicum site and may require travel depending on available sites. The student is responsible for all costs associated with traveling to and from the site along with any other costs that may arise. (i.e. parking, lunch, bus)

Exam Prep (MLA-PREP 20 hours)

This course will examine and prepare students for the Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario (MLPAO) and Canadian Society for Medical Science (CMSLS) exams.

*Westervelt College reserves the right to update course content with notice; hours, if listed, are approximations only

What is a Medical Laboratory Technician Assistant?

A Medical Laboratory Technician Assistant (MLTA) performs a vital role in the medical laboratory team. They are trained in the collection of specimens from patients, the initial processing and preparation of specimens for analysis, data entry, clerical services, the performance of electrocardiograms (ECG’s), and a variety of basic laboratory procedures.

Westervelt College Medical Laboratory Technician Assistant Program prepares you to apply for employment in a variety of laboratory setting. The program consists of theory, practical skills, and practicum components which have been mapped to the CSMLS Competency Profile for Medical Laboratory Assistants.

Upon successful completion, you will receive a Westervelt College Diploma which will allow you to sit the CSMLS Exams. The costs associated with these exams will be the responsibility of the applicant. Please visit the CSMLS websites for more information with regards to the certification exams.

General Duties

• Participate as an important member of the laboratory team

• Provide patient reception and documentation

• Use correct techniques to safely collect blood specimens

• Provide information to patients regarding the proper collection of specimens other than blood

• Appropriately handle and distribute specimens to be analyzed by other members of the laboratory team

• Maintain a safe working environment

• Perform electrocardiograms (ECG’s), applying an understanding of heart activity and heart electrical conductivity

Personal Qualities for Success The following personal attributes are recommended for success in this program:

• Have a strong sense of responsibility, a caring nature, an interest in the well-being of others, particularly the sick and elderly

• Demonstrate good interpersonal skills, communication, and dependability

• Enjoy performing precise work, where details can be a matter of life or death

• Enjoy being a member of a productive, disciplined team

• Be able to complete repetitive tasks accurately

• Maintain accuracy even in stressful or emergency situations

• Be willing to take direction and work competently without constant supervision

• Truly care about and find satisfaction in providing service to people

• Is conscientious regarding safety issues

Health Considerations for the Program and Career as a Medical Laboratory Technician Assistant Please consider the following when applying to the program. MLTA’s should:

•Have good mental acuity; this includes good eyesight and hearing

• Have good manual dexterity and enjoy working with your hands

• Be prepared to be exposed to the symptoms of hospitalized patients. As in most health care professions, you will be in close contact with infectious diseases.

• Have good back and neck health. This work requires long periods of time standing and bending.

• Recognize that the profession is both physically and mentally demanding and therefore must be able to cope well in a stressful environment

• Be prepared for extensive hand-washing. As a Medical Laboratory Technician Assistants, you must wear gloves while performing each procedure and will also wash your hands frequently using soap. Some people with skin disorders find the wearing of latex and other types of protective gloves, and the frequency of hand washing worsens their condition.

• Those with latex allergies will encounter exposure to latex products.

• Any prospective students with back, neck, arm injuries or serious skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis or latex allergy should consider carefully before making application to this program. If any of these are concerns for you, we suggest you discuss this with your physician.

• Hepatitis B and the flu vaccine are required and are available at any walk-in clinic or through your physician.

• Those with anxiety to the sight of blood or other body fluids should reassess this profession.

• Be prepared to work with both females and males. Students with significant health challenges are advised to discuss concerns with their physician prior to applying.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of this program will be prepared to be employed in hospitals, clinics, research, and private laboratories upon passing the provincial OSMT and national MLPAO examinations.

Areas of employment include but are not limited to:

  • Hospitals
  • Medical Laboratories
  • Research Laboratories
  • Doctor's Offices
  • Blood Donor Testing Centres
  • Veterinary Laboratories

Tuition & Fees

Medical Laboratory Assistant / Technician Diploma Program tuition fees for Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents.

Program CodeMLA

*This is the cost of the textbooks that the students will own. Students will have access to other textbooks that they can use and return to the college at no cost to the student at the end of each term.

Financial assistance is available to students who qualify. For assistance, please contact our Admissions team for more information.

Program Details

Total Duration55 Weeks
CampusesKitchener, London
Clinical Placement8 Weeks
Program TypeDiploma