I am a 2011 graduate of the College of Health Sciences with a degree in Clinical Laboratory Science. I could not be happier with my education and preparation for my position at the Zablocki VA Medical Center. I spent 35 hours a week for about six months working in a non-paid internship at the VA. I was groomed into the position I have now and there wasn’t any doubt that I wanted to work there.
For three weeks out of the month I work 6:30 am to 3:00 pm. Every morning I go up to a patient floor to draw blood from 3-5 patients depending on how many the doctors order. Each of the three weeks is a different rotation in the lab. My position is in the chemistry department which includes urinalysis, blood chemistries, arterial blood gases, and some other specific tests. The other side of the lab includes hematology, coagulation, and blood bank. My training provided the skills to be proficient in all sections of the lab. The other rotation in my position is in anatomical pathology and more specifically, cytology.
In urinalysis, a sample of urine is brought to the lab and we run it on our instrument. If it is flagged for substances such as blood we look at it under the microscope. From there we use what we know to determine the problem and if it warrants an immediate call to the doctor. The rest of chemistry is relatively automated and we are there to interpret the results and make sure everything makes sense. I also spend one of the three weeks in processing. This is where the samples come into the lab and are logged in and given a number for the instrument to recognize it for a specific patient. We also answer calls from physicians, nurses, patients and many other people with questions about lab testing. The third week is in cytology. Cytology is looking for cells, usually malignant, in body fluids. Some fluids we test on a regular basis are bronchial, pleural, urine, and peritoneal. I spin the specimen down and process it to put it on slide for the cytotechnologist or pathologist to view. Processing also means creating paraffin blocks for thick or chunky fluids. From this the histology department can “shave” off layers and stain many pieces for viewing microscopically.
The fourth week of the month I work 8:00 am to 4:30 pm in the pathology office. As a Medical Laboratory Scientist we need to know all aspects of the lab in order for us to be as useful to the rest of the hospital as possible. I work with the pathologist, cytology, histology, and the pathology assistant to make sure the results and reports are accurate and provided to the clinical physicians in a timely manner.
It is important to realize how essential MLS’s are to the hospital. A section that I did not even mention was microbiology. This is where all infections and diseases by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites are processed and diagnosed. A physician cannot treat patients without us and even if we do not get very much direct credit, we in the lab know what we do is important and go home smiling every day. Mostly because I make my own living in a career I love with benefits and room to grow -- thank you Marquette.
I hope future students realize how great of an education they receive in Clinical Laboratory Science at Marquette.
Brian Michalski, Class of 2011
My undergraduate education at Marquette University has given me a solid foundation in Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) and helped shape my thorough work ethic. However, it is the job experience in the field of CLS that has given me the confidence to problem solve even in the most unexpected circumstances.
As a Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) at the Milwaukee VA hospital, my responsibilities range from blood banking and phlebotomy to hematology, urinalysis, serology, and microbiology. In some instances my variety of duties test my aptitude in emergency situations. Only three weeks into my job on second shift, during my rotation in blood bank, a patient was losing massive amounts of blood during emergency heart surgery. It was a situation of heightened panic. Doctors and nurses were calling frantically for more blood. There was no time to think, just act and follow the procedures for which I was trained and educated. Seven hours later and over $20,000 worth of blood products used, I could finally rest easy. The patient lived and my actions helped make that happen. This incident gave me not only the assurance that I could carry out my work under stressful situations, but also the confidence to be competent in other fields of healthcare.
I am currently in the process of applying to dental school and I have CLS and the faculty involved to thank for making me feel ready to pursue such a career. Through the program I had the honor of working with a dentist at the Marquette University School of Dentistry and participating in an award winning research project in which I was able to combine aspects of both CLS and dentistry. I was even selected to display my project at the 2009 national ASCLS convention in Chicago. That was a very proud moment for me, and it made me realize how non-limiting a career in CLS is. It really can lead you anywhere.
Christopher J. Tamsen, class of 2009
I graduated from the MU Clinical Laboratory Science Department and currently work as a Medical Technologist specializing in blood bank/ transfusion medicine at the Portland Veteran’s Medical Center. I love my job, and I could not have gotten here without the education I received in the CLS program at Marquette University. The professors were phenomenal in making sure we had a solid background education for our careers. I can think of an instance where I was frustrated with parasitology and a professor in the Clinical Laboratory Science Department met with me after class and worked with me one-on-one under the microscope until I was confident in identifying parasites. That incident is just one of the many experiences I have displaying the dedication the Clinical Laboratory Science Department had to its students. I will admit it was rough waking up early for classes and for my senior year internship at Dynacare Laboratory, when a few of my roommates were waking up at noon, but it instilled a firm professional work ethic and one that has carried over to my career.
Trisha Aswani, class of 2008
I hope all is going well at MU. I have recently started my second year of graduate school here at Brown. Things are going well and it looks like I will be doing my dissertation on various aspects of mating and virulence in Candida albicans. I gave a lecture last semester on the clinical microbiology lab to undergraduate students in an introductory microbiology course. I even had one student come talk to me after lecture talking about how interesting the talk was and how she was looking for something that could put her in medicine without getting an advanced degree. I have found that many aspects of my training keep popping up in classes that I am taking and I would have been hard pressed to find a better background at MU! If you have any students who may be interested in graduate school feel free to pass along my email and I would be happy to talk to them or help them in the process.
Kevin Alby, class of 2006
I survived my first semester at med school, and even though it was challenging, I truly feel that Marquette University's Clinical Laboratory Science program prepared me extremely well! Actually, I am sitting in microbiology class as I am typing this! I am a little bored since all of this stuff is review for me, and I am so relieved. Other med students fear micro, while I know that I have a huge advantage having been taught micro in Clinical Laboratory Science at MU!
Anna Polikanov, class of 2004
I just wanted to share a quick story about a recent case where my CLS skills came in very handy. We recently had a patient who came to the urgent care with flu-like symptoms and high fevers occurring approximately every 40-50 hours. Interestingly, he had been treated for malaria last fall. We were worried about possible relapse of his malaria. To say the least, the doctors that I was working with were quite impressed when I was able to locate malarial forms on his blood smear. I would like to thank you all for your wonderful instruction over my four years at Marquette. I continue to use my CLS background on a daily basis. I will be entering my 4th year of medical school this summer and am hoping to do a clinical research pathway residency in medical oncology starting one year from now. I will have some time off next November and December, and I was hoping I could come talk to some students about medical school and careers in medicine. Thanks again.
Dustin Deming, class of 2003
My degree in clinical laboratory science has allowed me to be flexible as far as where I want to live and what time of day I need to work. First after graduation I worked second shift as a generalist in a hospital lab. Two years later when getting my masters degree in forensic science in Washington D.C., I worked as a third shift generalist in a hospital so I could take classes in the afternoon and evening, (it took me only one day to find a job!) After graduation in D.C. I came back to Wisconsin and I worked as a generalist on first and third shifts in a hospital (I got this job over the phone and with one quick trip from D.C.). Currently, I am working in the Quality Control department of a small biotech company. I test our products before they are sent to customers in hospitals, reference labs and blood centers across the world. A clinical laboratory science degree gives you so many options, if you like science but are not sure what you want to do after graduation. With this degree you know you will have a job while you explore any options you want.
Jen Schmidt, class of 2002