Bucks Community College program offers path to medical lab jobs

When a doctor orders a blood test to help diagnose a patient’s condition, the results are usually sent to the doctor’s office within a few days. In a hospital, it’s a few minutes to a few hours.

Where and how the blood is examined is a big mystery to most people. But students at Harry S Truman High School in Bristol Township learned a lot about the process last week when a professor at Bucks County Community College introduced them to the field of medical technology.

Students viewed the lab at the college’s Gene and Marlene Epstein campus in Bristol Township by Karen Gatewood, assistant professor and coordinator of the medical technology program at BCCC, who said graduates of the two-year course had a rate 100% placement and earn starting salaries of approximately $ 60,000 per year.

“We have developed an incredible relationship with Bucks through our expanding dual enrollment program hosted here at Truman to many of our graduates who enroll each fall,” said Director Jon Craig. “We are excited to expand this relationship by exposing our students to the MLT program and all the opportunities it offers. “

The school district coordinated the Zoom presentation to show its high school students a high-paying field they might not have considered. Gatewood will be giving a similar presentation to students at Bristol Junior-Senior High School at 11:30 am on March 26.

Although medical laboratory technicians mainly work behind the scenes, sometimes buried in hospital basements, they have an important role in healthcare, performing laboratory procedures and analyzing results, the door said. – Speech from the Kellie Dietrich school district in announcing the Zoom reunion.

About 25 students and a few parents connected to the presentation.

“You don’t have to be too good at science,” Gatewood assured the students, but it’s good to have an interest.

Karen Gatewood, an assistant professor at Bucks County Community College, coordinates the medical technician program at the school.

As she showed the students around the lab, she pointed to various pieces of equipment. “We have a microscope for every student,” she said. “If you have something like strep throat, we can stain it (the culture) and help the doctor identify what the organism is… We are a vital part of the healthcare team.”

She explained that hematology is the study of blood and that students in the MLT program learn to handle and type blood samples.

A student asked, “Are the germs you are testing dangerous?

Gatewood said working in a lab requires a person to learn to wear protective clothing and follow safety protocols, but most lab work is not dangerous when safety rules are followed. In hematology labs, she says, “we wear gloves, lab coats. We wash our hands when we leave the lab. “

“I went to college but didn’t know what I wanted to be,” Gatewood told the students. Then she went through a lab and found that the work looked really interesting. Since becoming a medical laboratory technologist, she said she has been able to secure several different jobs and advance her career, so she now teaches the program.

Gatewood said the career is ideal for someone who wants to work flexible hours, as hospital labs need workers 24/7 so that a person can work full time or part-time while raising a family and still have a good income.

The MLT Professional Major is a two-year, 68-credit program. In the first year, students take science courses while laboratory training is more intensive in the second year. The courses prepare them to take the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) exam and seek employment as a medical laboratory technician. “Students get an associate’s degree and are immediately ready for work,” Gatewood said.

Graduates who get a job in a lab can use the money they earn along with their employer’s incentives to pay for their college education, if they want a more advanced degree, she told the high school students. They can become scientific researchers or pursue a career in medicine and they won’t have a lot of debt for tuition fees to do so.

To learn more about the MLT program, visit bucks.edu/healthsciences or contact Professor Gatewood at [email protected]

At the end of the program, BCCC Admissions Director Marlene Barlow and Admissions Recruiter Casey Grunmeier spoke about the services the college offers to prepare students for college courses in a wide variety of fields. Services include an Academic Success Center, a Counseling and Transfer Center for students wishing to pursue a four-year college or university education, a Student Employment Center and a Counseling Service Center.

“At Bucks, we want you to stay close, but we want you to go far,” Grunmeier said.

The college will host a virtual open house from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on April 7, Barlow said. Registration is now taken for the event at https://www.bucks.edu/admissions/experience/.

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