MLT Students Meet and Greet Lab Professionals
Real-world experience can be one of the hardest things to acquire for a college student, but it’s also one of the most important factors for being hired after graduation. Clover Park Technical College’s Medical Laboratory Technician program sets its students up for success by holding an annual meet-and-greet for local clinical professionals to meet with CPTC students about potential internships in their labs.
The program hosted its most recent event Wednesday morning in the CPTC Rotunda, allowing the 14 students in the MLT program to present their research projects to visiting professionals.
“This is a really good opportunity for sites to look at personality, ambition and fit for clinicals, which allow students to learn hands-on for five to six months,” said Dana Guinn, CPTC Medical Laboratory Technician instructor who started the event four years ago.
The internship is a requirement but also a great opportunity, as CPTC staff set everything up for their students and match them with an appropriate clinical.
“They don’t have to find their own clinical — we place them,” said Guinn. “This helps students and clinical sites because they don’t have the stress of looking for or getting inquiries from a dozen students.”
In anticipation of the event, students put together display boards to share the research projects they’ve worked on throughout the quarter.
“Each student has their own display board with a topic in hematology, which gives talking points for visitors to get to know them,” Guinn said.
Display boards were filled with graphics and detailed information and included topics from anemia and red blood cells to malaria and other more complex subjects — anything to do with things students may deal with as lab technicians.
“To prevent anemia, you can eat foods high in iron like protein. And don’t forget Vitamin C, which helps your body absorb nutrients,” said Anh Nguyen, who graduates in 2017, as she presented her project.
Not only did visitors hear about healthful nutrients, but they had a chance to partake in some with a catered breakfast, including an omelet bar and fresh fruits. Visitors included site supervisors, lab managers and recruiters from MultiCare, Providence, the Seattle VA and others.
“Our clinical sites are hugely important,” Guinn said. “If we don’t have them, we don’t have a program. We’ve had students go as far as Shelton, Bremerton, Seattle, Centralia, Tacoma — there are a wide variety of sites for students.”
One clinical site representative, Brooke Fay from Providence in Centralia, was in the MLT students’ shoes a few years ago as she graduated from the CPTC program in 2012.
“They offered me a job at my clinical site, but I took another job offer,” Fay said, who had no trouble finding a job after graduating the MLT program. “I’m never afraid I won’t find a job. It’s nice to be able to come here again and see the students face-to-face since we may be working with them.”
And job security after leaving CPTC isn’t unique to Fay’s experience — each of 2016’s 13 graduating students found employment, many at their internship sites.
Nguyen and many of the other students in the MLT program already work as phlebotomists, but they wanted to further their education and increase their pay and position.
“It’s a step higher, I love learning more and don’t want to be stuck in one place,” said Yahelianny Doss, who graduates from the MLT program in April 2017.
“I like to work in the lab; it’s interesting for me to look under the microscope and see bacteria and viruses moving around,” Nguyen said. “I also want a stable job, and this program will provide that.”
CPTC’s accelerated MLT program is very popular, so much so there is a waiting list to get in.
“I waited a year to get in, but some wait two or three years,” Nguyen said.
The program is not only accelerated, being completed in one year when MLT programs are usually two or more, but it’s also a hybrid program.
“This year was the first year the program was fully hybrid,” Guinn said. “Before we used to be on campus five days a week. Now we are here Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and Monday and Friday is online.”
Guinn said she really likes the hybrid approach, and her students agreed.
“I like it because it’s easy for me to work part-time and study,” Nguyen said, who lives in Everett and commutes to Lakewood for school.
Students also commented on the excellent staff in the program.
“The instructor is very good and explains everything very well,” Doss said. “She always takes time to explain things if you have a question.”
Overall, students enjoyed the meet-and-greet and were eager to hear where they may be placed.
“I was excited but nervous. I thought they would be asking really tough questions, but it wasn’t so bad,” Doss said. “I would love to work at St. Joseph Medical Center because they do a lot of testing, but I’ll be happy anywhere — I’m excited to see what we can do out there.”