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Advisement and expectations


Program Director

An image of Marianne Downes
Marianne T. Downes, PhD, MLS (ASCP)CM

Medical Director

An image of Mary Dhesi
Mary Dhesi, MD 

Student success

Professional programs that train learners with specific skills and prepare them for successful entry into the professional workforce have high standards and expectations which lead to remarkably high graduate success rates. The Geisinger School of Medical Laboratory Science and the Geisinger Diagnostic Medicine Institute provide an excellent academic experience. We are dedicated to helping you become the type of professional we want to work with and someone we can expect to become a leader in diagnostic medicine. We’re committed to success and patient safety. We treat every patient sample with care. We use frequent feedback to guide and equip you to perform testing safely and effectively. You will be able to join a clinical laboratory professional team and sit for a Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) certification exam upon completion of our certificate program.

Graduate competencies 

Graduates of the Geisinger School of Medical Laboratory Science are expected to: 

  1. Possess the entry level skills necessary to perform clinical laboratory testing in the following broad areas: 
    • Clinical Chemistry
    • Hematology
    • Hemostasis
    • Immunology
    • Immunohematology
    • Transfusion Medicine
    • Microbiology
    • Urine and Body Fluid Analysis
    • Molecular Diagnostics
  2. Possess the general basic knowledge and ability to develop skills in the areas of:
    • Analysis and clinical decision making
    • Regulatory compliance with applicable regulations
    • Education
    • Quality assurance
    • Quality improvement in clinical laboratory testing performance, research and development
  3. Possess the basic knowledge and skills in application of safety and governmental regulations and standards as applied to clinical laboratory science.
  4. Apply the principles and practices of professional conduct to work-life and continuing professional development.
  5. Communicate effectively to patients, members of the public and members of the health care team in matters relating to clinical laboratory science. 
  6. Apply principles and practices of administration and supervision within clinical laboratory medicine roles.
  7. Train and educate users and providers of laboratory services using educational methodologies and terminology related to clinical laboratory science.
  8. Apply principles and practices of clinical laboratory research to study design, implementation, analysis and dissemination of results. 

Student advisement

Aim: Once you are accepted into the program, our goal is to help you meet and exceed standards so you’re adequately prepared to enter the workforce. 

Purpose: Feedback is intended to help you recognize strengths and weaknesses. Frequent and varied assessment towards goals and instructor-driven feedback is useful to aid you in identifying ways to leverage strengths and opportunities for improvement. Faculty-driven feedback can better help you identify useful and productive strategies for ideal implementation timelines.

Strategy: You will be assessed in multiple ways throughout the program and receive feedback through multiple modalities. We encourage you to ask questions and seek feedback during class and clinical time, through posted contact methods and/or during posted office hours for program faculty.

Formative feedback: Didactic coursework is divided into two components with a midterm and final exam for each course. Additional exams, quizzes, homework and classwork may be assigned. All material not immediately graded will be graded and returned to you within two weeks, with the goal of returning within one week from the due date. Feedback on clinical coursework is given throughout the progress in the form of competency checklists. You’ll receive feedback on progress and goals at least weekly. You’re also assessed on affective domain skills through professional development evaluations at minimum once per semester. The program director will review and address professional standards with all students at minimum during the first month of the program, at midterm and at the end of clinical rotations. If you have a failing score on a midterm exam, clinical competency or professional development, you’ll be referred to the program director. You may be required to meet with the program director to agree on a remediation plan and assess progress toward successful program completion. 

Expectations: You are required to meet standards of competence in your coursework as well as standards of professional practice. Didactic and clinical coursework standards and assessment methods are published in individual course syllabi. A passing grade in each course is 75%. The standards of professional practice are assessed by the professional development evaluation and the standards of professional conduct in the student handbook. 

Graduation requirement: To earn a certificate of completion, you must finish all didactic course and clinical competency assessments and pass a comprehensive exam. If you do not pass any course in the program or fail the comprehensive exam, you’ll be dismissed from the program. Graduation from the program with a certificate of completion is not contingent upon the registration or passing of a national or international MLS or MT certification exam. 

Elevation process and regular review of student progress: Lecturers, faculty and clinical preceptors will elevate any concerns with your progress in academic, clinical and professional skills at least bi-weekly to the clinical site liaisons and course faculty. Course faculty and clinical liaisons will report progress at least monthly to the program director. If you’re at risk of not meeting minimal program standards, you will be referred to for advising.  Care is taken to ensure student privacy, confidentiality and impartiality.  Appeals of decisions regarding student achievement or dismissal due to failure to reach minimum competency after remediation can be made to the chair of the Committee on Academic and Professional Standards.  

Have questions regarding academic standards, progression through the program, program dismissal or student record confidentiality? Contact the program director at

Standards of professional conduct

A shared set of guidelines forms the basis of trust necessary for student instruction in a clinical environment where patient testing and safety must be preserved. The shared set of guidelines also sets the basis for kind, respectful and just culture relationships between you and your instructors, as well as patients and members of the Geisinger community, who you may encounter during educational experiences.  


  1. AccountabilityStudents and instructors are expected to be accountable for their own actions and honest in recounting their actions.  
  2. Attendance: Students and instructors are expected to be on time and ready to learn for all scheduled instruction in conformance with the attendance policy.  
  3. Communication and teamworkStudents and instructors are expected to maintain professional communication. Legitimate concerns should be addressed through appropriate channels maintaining confidentiality and preserving the just culture, respectful and kind work environment for Geisinger. Professional communication includes verbal, written and non-verbal communication.  
  4. Education and developmentStudents are expected to truthfully present work that is their own, or when work is done by others. Students are expected to be open to learning from all people and recognize that everyone has talents and skills to offer, no matter their age, rank or position.  
  5. Resources and equipment: All equipment and supplies made available to students to facilitate education are to be used only in the manner intended, are not permitted to be removed or taken for personal use, unless specifically permitted and should be maintained in a manner to protect Geisinger’s investment.  
  6. Safety:
    1. Students and instructors are expected to adhere to all personal, technology, infection control, biohazard and chemical safety policies.
    2. Students are not permitted to participate in clinical work while under a condition which affects mental acuity to perform work safely. These conditions can include illness, sleep deprivation, improper medication or a behavioral medical condition.
  7. UniformStudents are expected to abide by the uniform policy and maintain a professional appearance.  
  8. Workplace environment: Students and instructors are expected to maintain a workplace and learning environment free from discrimination, examining their bias to create an inclusive and just environment. Behaviors that compromise the safety, effectiveness, quality and outcomes of the workplace and learning environment must be avoided and, if witnessed, reported through the appropriate channel. These behaviors include discrimination, harassment, bullying, retaliation, threats and workplace violence.  

The list provided is brief and non-inclusive. Greater detail for each of the standards, outcomes for violation of the standards and appeal of penalties for violation of the standards can be requested from the program director by emailing

Clinical rotation assignments 

Clinical placement is guaranteed for all students successfully admitted into the program. Didactic instruction will take place primarily at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa.  

Clinical instruction and some remote instruction may be assigned at:  

Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, PA (GMC)
Geisinger Community Medical Center, Scranton, PA (GCMC)
Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, Wilkes-Barre, PA (GWV)
Geisinger Medical Center Muncy, Muncy, PA (GMCM)
Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital, Bloomsburg, PA (GBH)
Geisinger Lewistown Hospital, Lewistown, PA (GLH)
Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital, Shamokin, PA (GSACH)
Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre, Wilkes-Barre, PA (GSWB)
Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital, Jersey Shore, PA (GJSH)

Student rotations will typically be from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with meal break on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Didactic instruction is 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. General rotation schedules and locations will be sent to you upon admission to the program for housing and schedule planning purposes.  

Schedules may be adjusted to accommodate needs, makeup or remediation time. Certain rotations may require a different start time, which will be communicated to you ahead of the change.  

Student work opportunities  

You may seek opportunities for clinical and/or research employment outside of scheduled clinical and didactic coursework hours. See job opportunities and requirements.

Hiring and scheduling requirements of employment positions within Geisinger are independent of the School of Medical Laboratory Science policies. The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) requires that service work performed by students must be noncompulsory. NAACLS defines service work as work for the clinical site performed outside of the normally scheduled educational periods. Participation by students in employment or research work outside of curricular hours is not required for students enrolled in the program. Students are not permitted to perform employment related work tasks during the educational day. Students are not permitted to be substituted for regular paid staff during clinical rotations regardless of employment status.  

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