MARIETTA, OHIO—Washington State Community College (WSCC), in an effort to address the growing shortage of medical laboratory technicians, now offers its Medical Laboratory Technology program (MLT) online.
Across Ohio and around the country, there is a shortage of Med Lab Techs and it’s having a negative impact on the healthcare industry, explained Steve Temesvary, WSCC’s MLT program director. “When you lack in-house MLTs, institutions could be forced to send out their testing or limit testing menus. These practices can affect specimen integrity, delay turnaround time, and prove dangerous in critical care situations.” He added that some hospitals, rather than diminishing the integrity of their services, have been forced to hire travel techs. Because they command a significantly higher pay, it results in increased charges to the patient.
In response to the need, WSCC has expanded its highly successful in-person MLT program to now include a new online MLT program. “More and more we are contacted by potential students who want to enroll in a quality program, but they need the flexibility provided with online learning,”
WSCC is one of only two completely online MLT programs in the nation. The new program is offered to students who live more than 50 miles from the college’s campus. “Everyday we see people who want to go to college, but have job and family responsibilities that make it impossible to take in-person classes. By expanding our program to offer it online, we are able to address not only the significant demand for MLTs, but we are providing opportunities for those who would otherwise not be able to pursue this career pathway.”
Med Lab Techs are vital to the operation of a healthcare facility because they help doctors with the diagnosis and direction of treatment of their patients, explained Temesvary. And because MLTs work behind-the-scenes, they’re often an overlooked sector of the medical landscape. “MLT’s are responsible for about 70% of all decisions regarding a patient’s diagnosis, treatment, hospital admission, and discharge,” he said. “There can be no hospital without a lab because labs are essential in determining patient diagnoses, patient management of their disease and therapy and screening for specific conditions.”
Temesvary also pointed out that while MLTs are often employed by healthcare facilities, they have extensive opportunities in other areas including research, forensic science, clinical lab work, blood banks, veterinary hospitals, public health careers, industrial labs and more.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports employment of clinical laboratory technologists and technicians is projected to grow 18 percent from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations. An estimated 26,000 openings for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians are forecasted annually, over the decade.
WSCC’s MLT program is fully accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). In addition to having 100-percent graduation and employment rates, the program has above average board certification pass rates, surpassing the national average by more than 8-percentage points. To enroll in the program, online students are required to establish a working relationship with a hospital lab near them where they will receive their required clinical experience.
WSCC is currently accepting applications for its 2022 cohort of the Online Medical Laboratory Technology program. Applications are available online at wscc.edu/MLT. For questions, contact the MLT Program Director Steve Temesvary at 740.568.5689.