Week 1 Recap

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I’ve officially finished my first week as an MLT student! It feels so good to be back in school and doing something so interesting. Returning to student life is definitely a big adjustment, but it’s so fulfilling to finally feel challenged again. It’s definitely worth any struggle.

Program Summary

I realize that I haven’t said much about the program I’m enrolled in. That’s because initially, it seemed way too good to be true and I didn’t want to jinx anything. Here’s a little summary of what I’ll be doing for the next 18 months or so.

The program I’m enrolled in is called Medical Laboratory Technician Training (MLTT). It includes 3 clinical laboratory courses, phlebotomy training, and 4 five-week practicum courses. Since I already have a Bachelor’s degree, upon completion of these courses, I’ll be eligible to take the board exam and become a licensed Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT).

The laboratory courses are Clinical Chemistry & Urinalysis and Hematology & Immunology (which I’m taking this semester), and Medical Microbiology (which I’ll take next semester). These are your basic lecture + lab classes, much like the upper-level biology courses that I took in college. The professor lectures for 1-2 hours, and then there’s a short break, followed by 3-4 hours of lab work.

I’ll be taking a phlebotomy course sometime this summer. I don’t know the details, but it basically involves a couple of weeks of class, a week or so of practicum, a certain number of successful venipunctures and finger sticks, and a certification exam. I’m a little nervous about the whole phlebotomy thing, but don’t worry, because we’ll be practicing venipuncture a lot this semester. On each other.

Practicum courses take place in actual clinical laboratories. Again, I don’t know the details at this point, but from what I can tell, they involve spending time in different areas and learning the ropes of working in a clinical laboratory.

Week 1 Summary

As with the first week in most science courses, the first week was all about basics. Hematology & Immunology takes place on Monday and Wednesday, Clinical Chemistry & Urinalysis on Tuesday and Thursday, but there is some overlap, at least for now.

Monday: Book distribution and instructor introductions, a basic hematology lecture including components of blood, function and anatomy of red blood cells, types of white blood cells, red blood cell indices, etc. Lab consisted of a microscopy review, using a counting chamber, looking at some blood slides, and then an introduction to venipuncture equipment (totally new to me). We practiced finding veins in the arms of our lab partners, and then practiced assembling needles and collection tubes and puncturing bananas.

 Tuesday: Overview of the field of clinical laboratory science and career paths, legal definitions related to clinical laboratories, and lab safety. Review of the metric system, lab math, lab equipment, using micropipettes, etc.

Wednesday: Lecture on cellular morphology and function, red blood cell metabolism, hemoglobin metabolism, and iron metabolism. In lab, we learned how to make blood smears. I found it to be much harder than it looks. We kept practicing until we each had two perfect slides (it took a while). Then, we watched a video about basic venipuncture, and another video about finger sticks and heel sticks (for newborns). Finally, we went over what different types of blood cells look like under a microscope.

Thursday: A quick venipuncture lecture. We learned a lot about venipuncture this week, and I’ll be surprised if we don’t start practicing on each other on Monday. Then, we were off to tour the laboratories at Kaiser hospital. It was really fun and awesome. We met a lot of people, and I learned about some careers that I didn’t know existed (and are very appealing). The bet part? Histology. We even got to watch the pathology assistants cut apart real organs!

I had a great first week, but I’m so glad it’s the weekend. Homework time!

Any exciting plans this weekend?

6 Comments

  1. That sounds awesome! I knew you’d love being back in an academic environment.
    We should talk soon! I work 11-4 today and 7-2 tomorrow. Let me know when you’re free!

  2. I am so happy for you! Also look forward to hearing more about newly discovered – and appealing – career path options. Learning new things is great, especially when it is something that you can really get excited about. Love you!

  3. They make you practice on each other so you will have empathy for a real patient!!! XOXO

  4. Good luck!

    I’m doing a bachelors in medical lab science (at the end of it I can take the license exam to become a licensed lab technologist if I want). I’m in the last semester of my program (my 6th semester actually) and I’ve had so much fun. I’ve already taken a year of medical micro, a year of clinical biochem, blood banking, hematology, and I’m finishing up with immunology and histology this semester. I’m guessing my program goes a bit more in depth but I’ve accumulated two years worth of study materials and study guides if you need any help.

    • Thanks! It’s not too bad so far. I haven’t taken hematology, but I have taken clinical chemistry and immunology lectures (but no lab, so that’s all new). I don’t want to be an MLT/CLS as a career, but I think it’ll be a really good way for me to get some extra lab experience before moving on. Are you applying to grad school?

      • I am considering grad school. My program actually offers a joint BS/MA program with the biosci department – I could go straight on and do a masters in biotechnology. I just have to decide… of course my mother keeps sending me job listings for lab techs and having a decent job is tempting. Tough decisions.

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