Based on the training they receive at the Burnett school, medical laboratory science graduates have the opportunity to work in hospital labs, conduct research, design and sell laboratory equipment for industry and teach effective techniques for using lab equipment.
“It’s fantastic to be able to tell our graduates, ‘The jobs are out there if you want them,’ ” said Dorilyn Hitchcock, assistant professor and director of the Medical Laboratory Science Program. “At Burnett, we provide students with a strong science and technical background. We lead them to the doors. They just have to choose which one to open.”
In addition to technical and scientific training, the Burnett school also provides students with an 18-week practical clinical experience in local hospital labs.
To gain employment, graduates must pass a national certification exam. So far, 14 graduates from the class of 2010 have taken the exam and 12 have passed it. Some of the graduates are working at local health-care facilities such as Florida Hospital and Orlando Health, one has a position at a local reference lab and one has accepted an offer performing clinical research. Others are using their training to enter physician assistant and other advanced programs, including one graduate joining the second class at the UCF College of Medicine.
As the need for trained medical laboratory sciences graduates has increased, so has the average salary, Director Hitchcock said. And that, in turn, has increased the number of students seeking admission into the Burnett school program. Around 2005, the school had just seven majors a year. This year, classes were filled with 22 majors and 27 students will be admitted in the fall. Director Hitchcock said almost twice that many students applied to the program for the 2010-2011 school year but admissions had to be limited because of the number of available spots in the clinical experience.
“Medical laboratory scientists are a key part of health care,” she said. “They are the first line of diagnosis to help patients.”