Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Medical Laboratory Assistant Certificate

Interested in a career in health care? The Medical Laboratory Assistant Certificate program can help you get there. Through this program, you will be trained to perform the practical components of collecting, sorting and preparing patient samples for further testing and analysis. The majority of this training can be completed online, so you can study at a time and place that works for you. The program includes a five-day workshop and requires the completion of a clinical practicum at a hospital or private lab.

Note: Students in BC (British Columbia) take the Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) Certificate rather than the MLA National Certificate Program. Please contact the Program Administrator, Science for information regarding the clinical practicum.


As a Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA), you will collect patient samples in a variety of settings, including:

  • Canadian blood services
  • Community health clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Insurance companies
  • Private labs

The program is equivalent to 20 to 24 weeks of full-time study and can lead to rewarding employment in a health care setting.

Visit Frequently Asked Questions for more about the Medical Laboratory Assistant program and the profession.

 Calendar Description

The MLA Certificate program consists of five theory courses, a five-day workshop and a clinical practicum, which is completed in a hospital or laboratory under criteria developed by TRU. Combined, these provide the theory and skills required for graduates to function as medical laboratory assistants.

A maximum of 30 weeks per course and a maximum of two years is permitted for program completion. However, you are encouraged to complete the program in under a year. Please note that extensions are not granted for this program

 Program Requirements

Admission Requirements

If you plan to complete this or another TRU-OL credential, please complete and submit the Program Admission Form with your application.

You must also have proof of:

  • Grade 12 or equivalent: order BC high school transcripts online through the BC Ministry of Education and have them sent directly from the Ministry or school district to the TRU-OL Admissions department.
  • Basic computer skills with typing at 40 words per minute (WPM) on a five-minute test: set up up a typing test through TRU Assessment Centre. Click here for more information.
  • Confirmation of a practicum-training site (PDF, 487 KB)

Certain admission requirements may be waived upon permission from the Academic Director or designate.

Additional Requirements

  • Consent to a Criminal Record Check (CRC) form (PDF, 892 KB)
  • HepB vaccine (PDF, 110 KB) form and instructions supplied for those not previously vaccinated; mail original form
  • HepB Blood Panel test for those previously vaccinated (to ensure immunity from future infection); may be faxed from doctor's office to TRU-OL Admissions

Residency Requirements

A minimum of 6 TRU credits (distance or on-campus)

Certificate Requirements

Eighteen credits total, as follows:

HLTH 1981, Medical Terminology (3)
HLTH 1141, Introduction to Electrocardiography (3)
MDLB 1221, Professional Practices and Safety in Health Care (3)
MDLB 1321, Phlebotomy Procedures and Specimen Preparation (3)
MDLB 1521, Microbiology Specimen Preparation (3)

MDLB 0521, MLA Workshop (0)

For workshop dates, see the Workshop Schedule.

MDLB 1721, Laboratory Practicum - Evaluation of Competencies (3)

Optional Course

MDLB 1611, Pre-Analytical Procedures for Histopathology (3)

Student Responsibility

It is your responsibility to determine if current employment trends in your region meet your personal needs and, in most areas, to locate and arrange your own placement for the required laboratory practicum component. However, make sure that you contact the Program Administrator, Science before you try to arrange a placement.

Consult with your Program Advisor to ensure that the courses you select are available and appropriate for your program of study and educational goals. Otherwise, you may find that a course does not meet the program requirements and cannot be applied toward that program’s credential.

TRU provides liability coverage for students on unpaid practicum placements. Note that workplace safety insurance varies by province. If you are an out-of-province student, check on this coverage in your home province or territory.


Please see Tuition and Fees for details.


Email the Program Administrator, Science to apply to this program or with questions about it.

Email Student Services with your questions about Open Learning and its programs and courses.