The Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) released a report on 22 April, 2014 in The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics with recommendations for a molecular diagnostics curriculum at both the baccalaureate and master's levels of education. The report was prepared by the Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) Curriculum Task Force of the AMP Training and Education Committee.
Addressing the growing and changing realm of molecular diagnostic testing
Sara Taylor, PhD, Task Force Co-Chair and a first author on the paper said: "Our goal was to address the critical need of educating future medical laboratory scientists appropriately in order to manage the rapidly growing and changing realm of molecular diagnostic testing".
The challenge, as stated in the report, is to balance the requirements of accreditation, certification, and the needs of the job market. To address that challenge, the recommendations are based on input from three key elements: 1) the USA National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) guidelines for accreditation of molecular diagnostics programs; 2) guidelines of several key certifying bodies for clinical laboratory scientists; and, 3) feedback from current employers of molecular diagnostics scientists via a survey of AMP members.
In addition, the curriculum recommendations are directed towards three major academic levels of laboratory scientists who perform molecular diagnostic testing - the generalist MLS/CLS, and both the bachelors and masters-level lab scientists with specialised molecular training.
AMP concluded that up-and-coming molecular diagnostic laboratory scientists should complete an NAACLS accredited training programme, then become certified or licensed in their state of employment.
The specific curriculum recommendations, if adopted, will prepare tomorrow's medical laboratory scientists for the reality that molecular diagnostics are an integral and growing part of the clinical diagnostic laboratory.
"As the organisation that is home to all molecular diagnostic professionals, AMP has a responsibility to help guide the training for future molecular technologists," said Elaine Lyon, PhD, AMP President. "The demand for specially-trained scientists who are capable of performing high complexity testing is growing. The recommendations set forth by the MLS Task Force will help to support the rapid advances in genomic technology and techniques."
Additional curriculum recommendations for fellows and residents are currently being developed by AMP and will be released in the coming months.
The AMP was founded in 1994 to provide structure and leadership to what was, at the time, the newly-emerging field of molecular diagnostics and during the years has established as the resource for expertise, education, and collaboration on what is now one of the fastest growing fields in science.
Taylor S, Bennett KM, Deignan JL, et al. Molecular Pathology Curriculum for Medical Laboratory Scientists. The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics 2014; 16(3): 288-96.