Though many patients don’t interact with medical technologists, these specialists have a lot to do with their care.Medical technologists are the scientists who typically work in a clinical lab setting such as a hospital, testing blood and tissue to help physicians and practitioners diagnose and treat their patients. Because of a growing need for these medical laboratory scientists, The University of Toledo unveiled a newly developed Medical Technology Program in 2013 — a program that has been very successful.
“The area hospitals, particularly ProMedica and UTMC, were facing a huge number of retirements and it was clear that the number of students being trained in the area was not going to meet that demand,” said Dr. Douglas Leaman, professor and chair in the UT Department of Biological Sciences.
That prompted faculty at the University to partner with area hospitals in offering a comprehensive program to train medical technologists. Students begin in premedical technology, then apply for the program in the fall of their junior year.
After being accepted into the program, they begin their clinical portion the following May. The clinical portion lasts for a total of one year and one semester, after which students graduate with a bachelor of science in medical technology and begin preparing for certification exams.
So far, the program has graduated one class of 10 students, all of whom have passed their certification exams and landed jobs at area hospitals. Three of these students are at The University of Toledo Medical Center, and others are at ProMedica and Wood County Hospitals.
The program has seen success in many other ways as well.
“The premed tech program within our department has grown substantially since this came into effect,” Leaman said. “We probably have about 50 students in that program. If that number doesn’t sound huge, I expect it to double in the next couple years. When you start talking about 100 students that otherwise would not have come to this University, that’s significant.”
The program also became accredited earlier this year by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences. After a site visit last September, the agency recommended an initial accreditation of five years — the longest possible.
The accreditation took place under the program’s director Robert Tjan, who has since retired. Before becoming director of the program, Tjan was a retired medical technologist from ProMedica.
“I can’t say enough about him,” Leaman said. “He came in and got the entire program from zero to accredited. He was incredible.”
The program now is led by Catherine Shaffner, who brings a lot to the table. Shaffner was interim director of a similar program at Bowling Green State University, has been involved with placements of medical technology students at ProMedica, and has served in roles with the same accrediting agency that recently examined UT’s program.
“This program has been a lot of work for everyone involved, but it’s been one of the most rewarding efforts that I’ve experienced as chair of this department,” Leaman said. “To progress from an idea for a new degree program to where it is now and see the success and the excitement the students have about what they’re doing — it’s been awesome.”
For more information on the program, click here.