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Medical Laboratory Science

Overview

 

What is a medical laboratory scientist?

Medical laboratory scientists are the professionals who provide essential analytical information to clinical staff such as doctors that enables accurate and rapid diagnosis and treatment of patients. In addition to working in hospital and community medical laboratories, medical laboratory scientists are well trained for careers in medical research, biotechnology, forensic science, veterinary pathology, diagnostic sales and applications, and laboratory management.

Modern medicine requires tests in areas such as:

  • Haematology: Detection of diseases such as leukaemia and bleeding disorders.
  • Clinical biochemistry: Changes in blood chemistry relating to illnesses such as diabetes, drug abuse, cancer, and heart disease.
  • Histology and cytology: Microscopic analysis of tissues and cells to identify abnormalities observed in cancer biopsies and cervical smears.
  • Microbiology and virology: Identification of disease-causing bacteria and viruses responsible for illnesses such as such as meningitis, hepatitis, and AIDS.
  • Transfusion science: The use of blood products and blood group identification in patient treatment essential for organ transplantation, blood transfusion, and clotting factor deficiencies.
  • Molecular diagnostics: The study of nucleic acids (DNA, RNA) for the diagnosis of cancer, inherited diseases, and infections.

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Entry requirements

The Medical Laboratory Science Admissions Committee considers applications from candidates in the following categories:

Single Programme Preference

Single Programme Preference is available for students wishing to only apply to Medical Laboratory Science. Available to domestic students only.

  • Goal: The Medical Laboratory Science programme, with support of its professional bodies, wishes to recruit students who have signalled a strong commitment to its programme.
  • Eligibility: To be eligible students must meet an academic threshold. For details please refer to the main categories below.
  • Application: To apply students will select their single programme—Medical Laboratory Science. However, students are still able to apply for Dental Technology, Oral Health, or any programme outside of the Health Sciences restricted-entry programmes.
  • Selection: Admissions Committees will firstly select from those applicants who are applying under Single Programme Preference. Thereafter if domestic places are still available, the Committee will select from the group of applicants that have applied to multiple Health Sciences restricted-entry programmes.

University of Otago Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) category

To be considered for admission in the HSFY category an applicant must be enrolled in HSFY at Otago and pass all the papers prescribed for HSFY, at first attempt, normally with a minimum average of 65%. Selection for applicants who have met these criteria will be based on their academic score.

Applicants will also be required to have passed the HSFY English Diagnostic Test or have passed ENGL 126.

Single Programme Preference applicants must pass all the prescribed HSFY papers and normally achieve a minimum average of 65% or better. First offers are made to Single Programme Preference applicants. Thereafter, if there are domestic places still available, offers will be made to applicants who have applied to more than one professional programme.

Scoring Example HSFY Category (PDF 40 KB)

For further information on previous years' cutting marks, please contact: health-sciences@otago.ac.nz

HSFY category checklist

Two or More Years of University Study category

From 2019, admissions scoring for the Two or More Years of Study admissions category will change.

Information about the changes to scoring for admission categories

Applicants who are not finalists and have completed two or more years of full-time study at a university in New Zealand, including the equivalent of the papers prescribed for the University of Otago Health Sciences First Year, will be considered for entry into Medical Laboratory Science. The Admissions Committee will score the best 120 points achieved in each of a maximum of two academic years of study.

Due to the scoring system for admission to the Professional Programmes, we are unable to score papers that have a pass/fail grade, nor are we able to score aegrotat passes.

Students are advised that their second year of study must include at least three papers at 200-level.

Applicants are normally required to have a minimum B- (grade point average (GPA) of 4) (Otago equivalent). Selection for applicants will be based on their weighted GPA.

Single Programme Preference applicants must pass all the prescribed HSFY papers and normally achieve a minimum B- (grade point average (GPA) of 4) (Otago equivalent) across all papers. Selection for applicants will be based on their weighted GPA, see scoring example:

First offers are made to Single Programme Preference applicants. Thereafter, if there are domestic places still available, offers will be made to applicants who have applied to more than one professional programme.

For further information on previous years' cutting marks, please contact: health-sciences@otago.ac.nz

Two or More Years of University Study category checklist

  • Completed online application form
  • Completed declaration and police vetting form (PDF 190 KB)
  • Current certified copy of current Academic Records (transcripts)
    • We do not require copies of Otago academic records.
    • Result notification forms are not acceptable.
    • Certified transcripts may be obtained from the relevant university.
    • Final semester results will be obtained from your university by the Health Sciences Admissions Office in November.
    • Failure by your university to release your final semester grades in time for Admissions Committees meetings may result in your application not being processed in the current year.
  • Completed Māori sub-category requirements (if applicable)
  • Completed NZRIPO sub-category requirements (if applicable)

Graduate category

From 2020, admissions scoring for the Graduate admissions category will change.

Information about the changes to scoring for admission categories

To be considered for entry in the Graduate category, applicants must have completed, normally in the minimum academic time and within three years of the date of application, the requirements of a first degree awarded by a university in New Zealand.

All applicants in the Graduate category are ranked on the basis of a score derived from the grades achieved in:

  • A bachelor's degree, or
  • A bachelor's honours degree, or
  • A bachelor's degree, followed by a postgraduate diploma equivalent to a bachelor's honours degree from the awarding university

The qualifying degree is the first university degree awarded to the applicant.

The score for candidates is based on the best 120 points of papers in each year of academic study. A weighted GPA is used (see example below).

Due to the scoring system for admission to Medical Laboratory Science, we are not able to score papers that have a pass / fail grade, nor are we able to score aegrotat passes.

It is to every applicant's advantage to ensure that each year of study has at least 120 points. A weighting factor is applied for each year of university study.

The weighting factors for a three-year degree see the first year score multiplied by 0.5, the second year score by 1.0 and the third year score by 1.5. Thus a paper score for each paper is generated in the following way: grade point value × number of points × weighting (see example below).

Applicants are required to have a minimum of a B- (grade point average (GPA) of 4) (Otago equivalent) and have passed the HSFY papers (or equivalents). Selection for applicants will be based on weighted academic score.

Single Programme Preference applicants must pass all the prescribed HSFY papers and normally achieve a minimum B- (grade point average (GPA) of 4) (Otago equivalent) across all papers. Selection for applicants will be based on weighted academic score, see scoring example.

First offers are made to Single Programme Preference applicants. Thereafter, if there are domestic places still available, offers will be made to applicants who have applied to more than one professional programme.

For further information on previous years' cutting marks, please contact: health-sciences@otago.ac.nz

Graduate category checklist

  • Completed online application form
  • Completed declaration and police vetting form (PDF 190 KB)
  • Current certified copy of current Academic Records (transcripts)
    • We do not require copies of Otago academic records.
    • Result notification forms are not acceptable.
    • Certified transcripts may be obtained from the relevant university.
    • Final semester results will be obtained from your university by the Health Sciences Admissions Office in November.
    • Failure by your university to release your final semester grades in time for Admissions Committees meetings may result in your application not being processed in the current year.
  • Completed Māori sub-category requirements (if applicable)
  • Completed NZRIPO sub-category requirements (if applicable)

Alternative category

To be considered for admission under the Alternative category a candidate must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Hold a degree from a New Zealand university and no longer be eligible under the Graduate category; or
  • Have completed a degree at an overseas university at a standard of at least New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) Level 7; or
  • Have completed a master's or doctoral degree

All applicants in the Alternative category will be required to have passed the papers prescribed for the Health Sciences First Year course and to have achieved a minimum academic standard to be determined by the Medical Laboratory Science Admissions Committee in any papers undertaken at University level.

Selection of applicants who have met these criteria will be based on academic merit, a single programme preference for Medical Laboratory Science, and a possible interview.

Alternative category checklist

  • Completed online application form
  • Completed declaration and police vetting form (PDF 190 KB)
  • Curriculum vitae to include names, addresses, and email contacts of three people who may be contacted for a confidential reference
  • Certified copy of academic records (transcripts) of all university study (including extramural and incomplete courses)
    • Result notification forms are not acceptable.
    • Certified transcripts can be obtained from the relevant university.
    • Applications will not be processed if complete academic transcripts are not attached.
  • Statement of interest
    • A short statement outlining the reasons for wanting to enter the course headed: Statement of reasons for wanting to enter the Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science
    • This must be on one A4 page and include your name and Otago student ID
  • Names, addresses, and (if available) email contacts of three people who may be contacted for a confidential reference.
  • Completed Māori sub-category requirements (if applicable)
  • Completed NZRIPO sub-category requirements (if applicable)

Sub-categories

The University of Otago is committed to initiatives that increase the number of students of Māori ethnicity and Pacific ancestry. The Division of Health Sciences is focused on ensuring that New Zealand's need for a diverse health workforce is met, honouring the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi and promoting academic equity for under-represented groups.

Applicants may also be considered in one or both of the following sub-categories:

  • Māori
  • Indigenous Pacific (see note)

An applicant in either or both of these sub-categories must provide verified evidence of either Māori whakapapa or indigenous Pacific ancestry, be a permanent resident or citizen of New Zealand, and complete a written statement describing their commitment to Māori and/or Pacific health.

Note: Students applying under the Indigenous Pacific sub-category need to provide verified evidence of family ancestry originating from one or more of the following Pacific nations:

  • American Samoa
  • Cook Islands
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Fiji
  • French Polynesia
  • Hawaii
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • New Caledonia
  • Niue
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Rapanui (Easter Island)
  • Rotuma
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tokelau
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu
  • Wallis and Futuna

Māori – Form A (PDF 150 KB)

Applicants wishing to be considered under the Māori sub-category must indicate this at the time of application by ticking the Māori sub-category box on the application form along with providing information on their Māori whakapapa. Applicants will also be required to complete and upload the following documents:

  • An endorsement of Māori whakapapa, and
  • A written personal statement

Successful applicants from the Māori sub-category are required to attend a mihiwhakatau (greeting) at the commencement of classes in Dunedin. Whānau are welcome and encouraged to attend.

It is recommended that students wishing to apply under the Māori sub-category attend a relevant information session held by the Division of Health Science Māori Health Workforce Development Unit (MHWDU) and/or contact the MHWDU to arrange a meeting with staff or for further information:

Email health-sciences-maori@otago.ac.nz

New Zealand Resident Indigenous Pacific Origins (NZRIPO) – Form B (PDF 100 KB)

Applicants wishing to be considered under the NZRIPO sub-category must indicate this at the time of application by ticking the NZRIPO sub-category box on the application form and then confirming their island of heritage / origin. Applicants will also be required to complete and upload the following documents:

  • An endorsement of Pacific Island Heritage, and
  • A written personal statement, and
  • A copy of birth certificate and any other verified information (certified copy) to confirm evidence of indigenous Pacific ancestry

Successful applicants from the Pacific sub-category are expected to be connected and contribute to the Health Sciences Pacific support network.

It is highly recommended that students wishing to apply under the NZRIPO sub-category contact the staff in the Pacific Islands Research and Student Support Unit, in the Office of the Associate Dean (Pacific):

Email pirssu@otago.ac.nz

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Application process

Online registration and application

New and returning students are required to complete their application through eVision, which combines both your admissions and enrolment into the University of Otago, and your programme application.

You should apply in the first instance to the 'Health Sciences Undergraduate Professional Programmes' and then select 'Medical Laboratory Science' from the list.

If you have any questions regarding your registration please contact the University Information Centre:

Tel 0800 80 80 98 (from within New Zealand)
Tel 64 3 479 7000 (from overseas)
Email university@otago.ac.nz
facebook.com/otagouniversity
Ask Otago: Frequently asked questions

Supporting documentation

For details regarding other required documentation, consult the appropriate checklist available at the end of each Main Category of Admission section.

Appropriate witnesses

You should normally have your documents witnessed as true copies of originals by an authorised person i.e. a person listed in the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 such as:

The following may also witness documents:

  • Notary Public
  • Court Registrar or Deputy Registrar
  • University of Otago Administrative or Liaison Staff
  • Member of Parliament
  • Land Transport New Zealand, Public Trust, or local authority employee (who must be authorised under the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957—an authorised stamp is required)

Students within New Zealand may wish to check the Yellow Pages for a list of Justices of the Peace in their area. Students from remote areas who do not have access to anyone in the approved categories should contact the University Information Centre for advice.

What the witness needs to do

Witnessed Document Example jpgWhen witnessing the photocopy this person must indicate the authority with which the copy is certified as true (e.g. Certified true copy, W B Smith, Justice of the Peace).

The person's name should be printed under his or her signature if not easily legible.

Other officials or professionals should not normally be asked to witness documents. Check the Yellow Pages for Justices of the Peace in your area.

If you do not have access to anyone in the approved categories, you should contact the University Information Centre for advice.

Application deadlines

Applications for entry in 2018 close on 15 September 2017.

Outcome of application

You will be advised of the outcome of your application by email no later than 11pm (New Zealand Time) on 22 December 2017.

If you have a question regarding your application, you are able to contact us at:

Email healthsciences.application@otago.ac.nz

All correspondence must include your Otago student ID number.

Accepting or declining offers

If offered a place, applicants will be advised on the deadline for accepting or declining the offer.

Note, the closing date to accept first round offers is 4 January 2018.

Please think carefully before making your decision; once you have declined your offer there is no opportunity to have the offer reinstated after the deadline has expired.

What is the waiting list?

If your Outcome of Application email indicates that you have been placed on the waiting list you will be contacted should a place become available. Waiting lists are programme-specific and you may not ask to be included on any waiting list other than the one(s) specified.

You can be offered a place from a waiting list right up to the time classes begin. Therefore, you must make sure that you continue your enrolment process for an alternative course of study.

Deferral of entry

Successful candidates may request to defer their entry to the following academic year.

Requests will be considered on the following grounds:

  • Graduate Category or Alternative Category candidates who wish to complete current academic study (e.g. an honours year) that in the opinion of the Admissions Committee will enhance a student's future study in Medical Laboratory Science. If approved, the Admissions Committee will advise of the minimum grade(s) that must be attained. Deferral requests, submitted under this criteria, must be received no later than the last day to add a first semester paper – 2 March 2018.
  • Serious medical grounds or other exceptional circumstances. Candidates that are approved deferral on medical grounds or exceptional circumstances will be required to provide evidence that they are able to resume study.

To apply for a deferral of entry please complete and return the deferral form (PDF 130 KB)

Deferrals will only be granted for a maximum period of one academic year.

Applicants must have their personal and financial affairs in order when they apply so that if their application is successful, they are able to take up a place at the start of the first semester.

English language requirements

Admission to the programme shall be subject to applicants meeting an English language requirement as determined by the Medical Laboratory Science Admissions Committee, dependent on the category under which the application is made.

International students

International students are defined as all those students who require a student visa to study in New Zealand. In any given year, a number of places in the second year Medical Laboratory Science may be available to international students.

Should an international student's residency status change prior to notification of the application outcome, he or she must notify the Health Sciences Admissions Office immediately and will have to compete for admission with other domestic students.

Important dates

  • Online application closing date: 15 September 2017
  • Outcome of application emails sent out by: 22 December 2017
  • Accepting or declining first round offers: 4 January 2018
  • Health Sciences Admissions Office closed: 23 December 2017 to 4 January 2018

Second year start dates

Applicants offered a place in the programme will be advised of dates for the following:

  • Introductory lecture
  • Classes begin

Introductory classes are compulsory. Students who fail to attend classes on the start date risk losing their place.

Health and disabilities

Please contact the University of Otago's Manager of Disability Information and Support, or the Health Sciences Admissions Office, if you have a health condition and/or disability that may affect whether or not you are able to meet the requirements of the programme or obtain professional registration.

Any applicant who has a mental or physical condition that could adversely affect their fitness to practice or is found to have failed to declare a condition may be declined admission to the programme by the Medical Laboratory Science Admissions Committee on the recommendation of the Health and Conduct Review Group. Any offer of admission made before responses to medical requests or requests for information regarding an applicants health status have been received is conditional on the information received confirming the applicant's suitability for admission.

Criminal offences

Any applicant who is, or has been, the subject of criminal conviction, or is, or has been, subject to disciplinary proceedings of a tertiary institution or professional body, or is found to have failed to declare a matter may be declined admission to the programme by the Medical Laboratory Science Admissions Committee on the recommendation of the Health and Conduct Review Group. Any offer of admission made before responses to requests for information regarding an applicant's past conduct have been received is conditional on the information received confirming the applicant’s suitability for admission.

As some convictions may prohibit registration, applicants are advised to consult the regulations of the appropriate registering professional body:

Medical Sciences Council of New Zealand (Medical Laboratory Science)

All applicants must consent to verification from the New Zealand Police and Department of Courts that there are no undeclared criminal charges or convictions.

Health and Conduct Review Group

The Health and Conduct Review Group considers a student's suitability for admission to a Health Sciences Professional Programme having regard to fitness to practice issues.

Health and Conduct Review Group Terms of Reference (PDF 60 KB)
Health and Conduct Procedure (PDF 150 KB)

First aid certificate

All candidates who accept a place into the Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science must have a certified copy of an appropriate New Zealand first aid certificate before the start of the programme.

Applicants must gain this qualification through an NZQA-registered training provider who is authorised to assess NZQA first aid standards. The certificate should include at least NZQA Standard 6401 and NZQA Standard 6402, but students are recommended to obtain a qualification which includes the higher NZQA Standard 6400.

The following are a selection of recommended training course:

Immunity status

All applicants who are offered and accept a place to the second year, or any subsequent year, will be required to provide evidence of their serology status.

Because of the nature of their practice, health professionals are required to take steps to ensure they neither acquire infections from their patients nor transmit infections to patients.

Immunity testing arrangements will be made known during December, preceding the start of the programme.

Please refer to the Infectious Diseases Policy for Health Professional Students (PDF 680 KB) for further details regarding immunity status.

Domestic place numbers

The maximum number of domestic student places available across all admissions categories for 2018 are 60.

Special examinations

Applications from students sitting special examinations will be placed on hold until the special examination results are released. Once you receive your special examination results you must immediately advise the Health Sciences Admissions Office to ensure the processing of your application is completed.

As we do not receive special examination results automatically, it is applicants' responsibility to inform us of the results of special examinations as soon as they become available.

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Programme content

We offer one undergraduate qualification: the Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science (BMLSc). This course requires four years of full-time study.

Year one is the competitive Health Sciences First Year course, also taken by those wishing to enter Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, or Physiotherapy. It must be taken on-campus at the University of Otago in Dunedin.

Years two and three are also spent full-time in Dunedin. Papers are taught by the School of Biomedical Sciences and the Dunedin School of Medicine.

Year four consists of two semesters in selected medical laboratories in New Zealand. You'll gain service experience, while taking part in a distance-taught academic course from Dunedin.

Following graduation, most degree-holders choose to work for at least six months in a diagnostic medical laboratory. This is necessary to fulfil the requirements for registration as a Medical Laboratory Scientist, by the Medical Science Council of New Zealand, who manages the system Technologists Board.

Second-year papers

  • MELS 207 Introduction to Diagnostic Pathology
  • MELS 221 Microbes to Medicine (for BMLSc)
  • MELS 223 Infection and Immunity (for BMLSc)
  • MELS 230 Biochemistry (for BMLSc)
  • MELS 241 Human Biology: Cells to Systems (for BMLSc)
  • MELS 251 Physiology (for BMLSc)

Third-year papers

Fourth-year papers

Two of:

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Careers

Qualified medical laboratory scientists are a vital part of the health team in hospitals and in the community.

The life of a highly-skilled medical laboratory scientist involves the use of cutting-edge technology in a fast paced environment. They use sophisticated instruments and techniques while applying theoretical knowledge to provide rapid, accurate, and reliable results that are used by clinicians in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

The test results medical laboratory scientists provide have an immediate impact on the care of critically ill patients. Every day brings a different challenge and new problems to solve.

Demand for faster testing and constant monitoring of patients has taken some tests out of the laboratory to patients' bedsides.

This is called 'point-of-care' testing, and is an exciting new role for medical laboratory scientists.

There are numerous career opportunities for qualified medical laboratory scientists, such as in the diagnostic industry—both in hospitals and the community—where every day they are directly involved with patient health.

Graduates also find employment within the private sector doing such things as industrial research, product development, technical support, and working in forensic and pharmaceutical laboratories.

Opportunities exist to work overseas with this internationally-recognised qualification.

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Regulations

Regulations for the Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science (BMLSc) degree

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Disclaimer

The University of Otago makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information provided on its web pages. However the matters covered, including the availability and structure of courses, are subject to regular review and no warranty or representation can be provided regarding the accuracy of such information, and the University does not accept liability for any losses or damage arising directly or indirectly from reliance on the information.

While the University of Otago takes all due care in implementing the regulations, policies, and procedures that relate to the admissions process, it reserves the right to correct any administrative errors that may occur.