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