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Clinical Lab Assistant Program

About the Profession

Clinical laboratory assistants, also known as medical laboratory assistants, prepare patient samples for testing in the diagnostic laboratory. Activities include performing phlebotomy, accessioning samples as they are delivered to the laboratory, centrifuging and pipetting samples, packaging samples, and operating instruments. Clinical laboratory assistants also perform tasks such as answering phone calls and troubleshooting issues. Clinical laboratory assistants may work in the preanalytical areas of Specimen Receiving and Phlebotomy as well as almost every department within the diagnostic laboratory.

About the Program

The clinical laboratory assistant program is designed for individuals who are interested in pursuing an entry-level position in the diagnostic laboratory or who already work in the laboratory or a related field. This program is a full-time 14-week program in which students complete four weeks of didactic coursework (lecture) online followed by ten weeks of clinical rotations within the diagnostic laboratories of Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and an in-person course in laboratory mathematics.


Online Lecture: 4 weeks

  • Orientation: Topics covered include safety, professionalism, ethics, communication, quality, resume writing and job interviews, and an introduction to laboratory practices
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Medical Vocabulary

In-Person: 10 weeks 

  • Clinical Rotations: Following a one-week orientation in which students learn practical skills such as phlebotomy and pipetting, students will rotate through laboratory departments. Focus will be on introducing students to general job functions and specific functions for each department.
    • For students who are currently employed at VUMC, clinical rotations will be performed outside of their normal working hours.
  • Computer access for online didactic portion of instruction
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Total GPA of 2.0 or higher
  • Preference is given to applicants with health care or higher-level science courses or experience

Application Process

Clinical Laboratory Assistant Program Application

The CLA Program expects to have biannual cohorts each January and July. Please contact the Program Director for more details.

Application materials include:

  • Resume
  • Personal Statement
  • 3 Professional References
  • High School Transcript
  • Copy of Photo Identification
  • Copy of Health Insurance

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Interviews may be scheduled prior to final admissions decision.

Contact Info

Sylvia Verhoven, MLS (ASCP)