Together with friends, family, and future colleagues, URMC's first clinical/medical laboratory technology students graduated from the program on Friday, May 18.
The ceremony included formal remarks by Kathy Parrinello, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, and several leaders from Pathology & Laboratory Medicine including Vicki Roberts, Kelley Suskie, and Drs. Richard Burack and Scott Kirkley.
Two awards were given at the ceremony. John Reichert received the Academic Excellence Award for outstanding academics and professional achievement in the program.
Madalynn Bryant received the Aspiring Leader Award in recognition of academic achievement and leadership. This award was given in honor of the late Judy Miller, who was supervisor of the Flow Cytometry Laboratory at the time of her retirement in 2017, and was passionate about teaching colleagues from fellow technologists to residents and clinical faculty.
The intensive, one-year program was launched in 2017. All of the 11 graduates have since accepted jobs at Strong Memorial Hospital.
View a photo gallery from the ceremony
Each person to graduate from URMC’s first in-house clinical laboratory technology training program has tentatively accepted a job at UR Medicine Labs at Strong Memorial Hospital where the group is expected to start work this summer.
This is welcome news for the institution, and comes at a time when the number of available licensed medical technologists in New York State is critically low.
The training program was launched in 2017 after URMC ended a longtime partnership with Rochester Regional Health. The curriculum is comprehensive, including both lectures and hands-on work under one roof. Students receive instruction from technical staff and supervisors who work in the clinical labs, as well as Pathology and Laboratory Medicine faculty.
In its first year, the lab education team already views this program as a direct pipeline of licensed staff to help combat the statewide shortage. Upon their hiring, the 11 new graduates plan to work in labs including Clinical Microbiology, Automated (Chemistry) Lab, Flow Cytometry, and Toxicology.
“I am very excited by the success of our first graduating class,” said Melissa Allen, director of operations for UR Medicine Labs. “This is a testament to the hard work of everyone involved from our education manager, education coordinators, bench-level trainers, faculty, staff, and students.”
UR Medicine Labs supports an ever growing service region that performs testing for patients of affiliate hospitals including Strong Memorial, Highland, Strong West, FF Thompson (Canandaigua), St. James Mercy (Hornell), Noyes (Dansville), and Jones Memorial (Wellsville).
It also has more than 40 draw clinics scattered across Monroe, Genesee, Allegany, Steuben, and Livingston Counties to provide convenient options for patients.
UR Medicine Labs staff collectively performed more than 8 million patient tests in 2017 alone.
To learn more about the medical technology training program or to apply, visit their website.
On Monday, Aug. 28 UR Medicine Labs and the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine were pleased to welcome 12 new graduate students who are taking the first step toward a professional laboratory career.
The program is sponsored in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. The class of 2018 is the first group to complete all of their training at the University of Rochester.
After passing a state licensure exam in the spring, those who complete the 2-semester program will be qualified to work as certified Clinical Laboratory Technologists, commonly referred to as medical technologists or “med techs.”
Many of the trainees have bachelor’s degrees in biology or related scientific field. They come from area colleges including SUNY Brockport, RIT, UR, SUNY Geneseo, University of Buffalo, and St. John Fisher College.
Cheryl Gardner is one of the students who, like many of her classmates, is going back to school after her career path took some unexpected turns. She was laid off from her software job in 2015 and decided to use the opportunity to finish her bachelor’s degree in biology.
After graduating, however, she soon learned that many jobs in her chosen area of study required advanced degrees or job experience. She then learned about the new program at URMC – which thankfully offered both. For her, the prospect of having a license to practice in the clinical laboratory offered the chance to finally have a stable future.
“This is my fourth career,” said Gardner. “I have worn many hats, but I look forward to spending the rest of my career in a lab.”
The U of R Clinical Laboratory Technology program has a comprehensive curriculum including both classroom education and real world practical lab experience.
Since 2006, it has been more difficult for clinical laboratories across New York State to fill vacancies due to changing requirements. Instead of just needing a bachelor’s degree in an applicable major, employees were required to have 1-2 years’ worth of additional education and pass a certification exam.
The med tech program offers the opportunity to become certified and land a job fairly soon, said Scott Kirkley, M.D., Vice Chair of Pathology Education.
He explained that having just a biology or biotechnology degree does not guarantee that you’ll find a job in the medical field.
“Not everyone goes on to get a PhD or goes to med school, so we need alternatives.” said Kirkley. “This job (as a medical technologist) is in demand and it is a satisfying career with many opportunities for advancement."
Read more about the program here: UR to Launch New Clinical/Medical Technology Program