Classes have begun for Loyola University Chicago’s new clinical laboratory science bachelor’s degree program, designed to prepare graduates to work in clinical labs where excellent job opportunities are expected, according to the university.
The U.S. Department of Labor projects that as technology evolves, workers retire, and as the population grows and ages, the need for clinical laboratory scientists will increase by 14 percent during the next decade, faster than the average for all other occupations in the United States.
“The job opportunities in this field are extremely promising. We are going to start rivaling nursing in terms of how many vacant positions there will be across the country,” said Michelle Moy, director of the clinical laboratory science bachelor’s degree program, in a news release from the university.
Clinical laboratory scientists play very important roles in the diagnosis and treatment of human and animal diseases. They use a variety of high-tech equipment to examine and analyze body fluids, cells and tissue for the presence of bacteria, parasites and chemicals that can cause illness. They also perform pregnancy and employment drug-screening tests, match blood for transfusion and test to see how patients are responding to treatment.
“To know what illness a person has ,you have to have specific test results. You can’t go to the doctor without getting lab tests done, and clinical laboratory scientists are the people who perform those tests,” said Paul Schreckenberger, PhD, director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory Department at Loyola University Hospital in Maywood, according to the release.
Clinical laboratory scientists, also known as medical laboratory scientists and medical technologists, can expect to earn average wages in the mid-$30,000s to start and rising to the upper-$70,000s and up after a few years experience.
Graduates of Loyola’s program will be prepared for challenging positions in hospitals, colleges and universities, pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies as well as with government agencies and in research and product development, insurance underwriting, forensic medicine and criminal justice and veterinary medicine.
Students will be required to earn 129 credit hours in order to graduate. They will spend the first three years of the program at Loyola’s Lakeshore and Water Tower campuses completing prerequisite coursework and courses related to the basic sciences and clinical laboratory sciences, Schreckenberger said.
“In the fourth year, students will spend eight months rotating through our labs at Loyola University Hospital where they will receive lectures and get instruction from our laboratory directors,” said Schreckenberger, who is also a professor of pathology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood.
In addition, students will spend the last 45 hours of instruction or a total of 64 hours in residence. Upon completing the program, all students may apply to take the examination to be certified as a medical laboratory scientist (MLS).
“The MLS certification is national so this program will give students great flexibility in terms or where they want to work after they graduate,” said Moy, who also serves as an instructor and student recruiter and advisor for the program.
The program is ideal for career changers who have some clinical laboratory experience, for those who hold a bachelor’s degree in the health sciences or sciences but who lack clinical experience and for mid-level technicians possessing associate degrees, Schreckenberger said.
“We call it a flexible entry. You can enter as a freshman and from the beginning be earmarked for this program or you can change your major any year and be eligible to receive a degree with this program,” Schreckenberger said.
For more information on tuition and fees, go to http://www.luc.edu/alliedhealth/cls.shtml.