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Medical laboratory science registration and competence.

Recently, in an opinion piece in Clinical Biochemistry, Tony Badrick and Andrew StJohn from Australia stated that the key question is whether continuing professional development (CPD) and registration translates into competency and therefore improved patient safety. They raised the point that it would be possible for a medical laboratory scientist to be registered (through participation in a CPD scheme) yet not be fit to practice and that in New Zealand competency is considered separately from CPD (1). We responded and pointed out that in New Zealand the NZIMLS CPD programme stands for Competency and Professional Development rather than Continuing Professional Development and that all registered medical laboratory scientists (MLS) and medical laboratory technicians (MLT) practicing in New Zealand require an annual practicing certificate (APC) as well as registration (2). The APC is issued by the Medical Sciences Council of New Zealand (MSCNZ) and must be renewed on an annual basis whilst the MLS or MLT is still practicing. Issue of an APC is dependent upon demonstration of satisfactory participation and progress in the CPD programme as previously pointed out in the NZIMLS Journal (3).

The NZIMLS CPD programme has two components: a compulsory competence sign off, and participation in professional development activities. Competence is the most important component of our CPD programme and it is important that any person signing off the competence of a MLS or MLT hold those competencies themselves. A MLS or MLT will not receive an APC from the MSCNZ if this compulsory competence requirement is not fulfilled.

The MSCNZ has published a Code of Competencies and Standards for the Practice of Medical Laboratory Science ( mlsb/Uploads/Code-ofCompetencies-and-Standards3.pdft with minimum standards outlined for both scientists and technicians. Maintaining high professional standards both ethically and legally are just as important as competence in the analysis and processing of samples, as is the demonstration of safe practice techniques. The ability to communicate, work with colleagues and to recognise the socio-cultural values of others are also components of competency.

Practitioners need to be aware that any activities relating to the competence standards described above are considered to be part of your compulsory competence CPD claim and not part of your professional development component of the CPD programme. Confusion often exists in the differentiation and separation of these competency components so consistency within the CPD categories is paramount. The booklets 'Competence and Professional Development Recertification Programme for Medical Laboratory Scientists' and 'Competence and Professional Recertification Programme for Medical Laboratory Technicians' ( should be consulted for clearer details on specific activities, and if doubt still exists then the CPD coordinator should be consulted for advice at

Thus, in New Zealand, the Competency and Professional Development programme leading to registration ensures improved patient safety.


(1.) Badrick T, StJohn A. Does registration of the medical science workforce deliver a competent profession? Clin Biochem 2014; 47: 1-4.

(2.) Broadbent J, Hewett R, Siebers R. Medical laboratory science registration and competence. Clin Biochem 2015; doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2014.12.025.

(3.) Tozer S. Registration/APC vs NZIMLS/CPD. NZJ Med Lab Sci 2012; 66: 82-83.

Author information

Jillian Broadbent, FNZIMLS, CPD Co-ordinator

The New Zealand Institute of Medical Laboratory Science Inc., Rangiora

E-mail address:

NZJ Med Lab Sci 2015; 69:03
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Author:Broadbent, Jillian
Publication:New Zealand Journal of Medical Laboratory Science
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2015
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