Essential Function | Florence M. Cook School of Medical Laboratory Science   

Essential Functions

Essential Functions are the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that the student must possess in order to complete the curriculum of the program. A student must be able to comply with the program-designated essential functions or request reasonable accommodations to perform them. Essential functions include - but are not limited to - the following:


The MLS student must be able to:
  • Possess a broad range of intellectual skills necessary to master the complex body of knowledge contained in the clinical laboratory science program and its clinical laboratory component.
  • Recall, comprehend, analyze, and apply material taught in the classroom as well as in clinical areas.
  • Interpret data and apply it to solving case studies.
  • Problem solve unexpected observations or outcomes of laboratory test procedures.


The MLS student must be able to:

  • See fine calibration lines on pipettes, read charts, graphs, laboratory instruments and computer monitors.
  • Distinguish various degrees of clarity in solutions and laboratory specimens from clear through opaque.
  • Distinguish cellular components on stained and unstained smears using a compound bright field microscope.
  • Differentiate color reactions from very light to dark color saturations.

Manipulative Skills

The student must be able to perform the following functions while wearing personal
protective equipment (PPE) such as nitrile gloves:

  • Manipulate dials, computer keyboards, and on/off switches on laboratory instrumentation.
  • Pick up small objects such as test tubes, micro containers, capillary pipettes, glass slides, and timers.
  • Use rubber bulbs or air displacement pipettes to transfer and aliquot liquids from one container to another.
  • Troubleshoot instruments using micro-tubing.
  • Work in a routine Microbiology setting, streak specimens on primary media using smooth movements with a loop on the agar plates without causing tears or cuts.
  • For safety purposes, the hands must be able to feel heat and cold since he/ she will be working with various heating blocks, water baths, and cold objects.

Communication Skills

The MLS student must be able to:

  • Communicate effectively using written and spoken English; ask and answer questions.
  • Respond to spoken instructions, hear warning beeps, alarms, and overhead warnings.
  • Converse person-to-person and by telephone.
  • Appropriately assess nonverbal as well as verbal communication.
  • Use the telephone and other communication devices common in the health care setting.


The MLS student must be able to:

  • Move from one location to another without undue hardship.
  • Navigate classrooms, bathrooms, hallways, and elevators with sufficient ease.

Attitudes and Behaviors

Aside from the intellectual and physical requirements, the student must be able to exhibit stable emotional health and respond appropriately to all kinds of stimuli in the laboratory environment.
The MLS student must be able to:

  • Accept and follow rules and regulations affecting behaviors.
  • Exercise good judgment and accept responsibility when dealing with others.
  • Treat others (patients, teachers, peers, bench instructors and other team members) with respect.
  • Work cohesively as a team.
  • Accept constructive criticism.


The MLS student must be able to:

  • Work safely with potential chemical and biological hazards.
  • Follow prescribed guidelines for working with all potential hazards, including those of a mechanical and electrical nature.

All applicants who are accepted into the program must sign and return the Essential Functions agreement, with the commitment statement, indicating that they understand these requirements.

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