Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Medical Laboratory Assistant Certificate

Interested in a career in health care? The Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) Certificate program can help you get there.

If you are a student in BC, please choose this program, rather than the MLA National Certificate program.If you are unsure of which program to take, contact the Program Administrator, Science.

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 is 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 placement at a hospital or laboratory, under criteria developed by TRU.

Please contact the Program Administrator, Science for additional program information and availability of a practicum placement in your area.


As a 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.

Refer to Frequently Asked Questions for more about the MLA Certificate program and the profession.

 Calendar Description

The MLA Certificate program consists of five theory courses, a five-day workshop and a clinical practicum, conducted 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

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

If you plan to complete this or another OL credential, please fill out the Program Admission Form and email, fax or mail it to OL Admissions, along with your application.

Additional Requirements

  • A Consent to a Criminal Record Check (CRC) form (PDF, 892 KB)
  • A hepatitis B (Hep B) vaccination (PDF, 110 KB) form and instructions supplied for those not previously vaccinated; mail original form
  • A Hep B blood panel test for those previously vaccinated (to ensure immunity from future infection); may be faxed from doctor's office to OL Admissions

Residency Requirements

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

Certificate Requirements

18 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 needs and, in most areas, to locate and arrange for your clinical practicum placement. However, make sure that you contact the Program Administrator, Science, before you begin to arrange this placement.

Consult with your Program Advisor to ensure that the courses you select are appropriate for your program of study and educational goals. If you proceed otherwise, you may find that a course does not meet program requirements and its credits may not applied toward your chosen credential, or you may be required to pay an additional transcript assessment fee.

TRU provides liability coverage for students on unpaid practicum placements. Note that workplace safety insurance varies by province/territory. If you are a non-BC student, check regarding this coverage in your home province/territory.


Please see Tuition and Fees for details.


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

Contact Student Services with your questions about this or any other program or course offered by Open Learning.