Nikki Riddle, of Benkelman, and Brittany Brooks, of Arapahoe, study specimens in a Medical Laboratory Technician class at Mid-Plains Community College. The college's MLT program has been reaccredited for 10 years.
Great news for the Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) Program at Mid-Plains Community College. It has been reaccredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).
"That means graduates are eligible to sit for the national certification exam – something they wouldn't be able to do if the program wasn't accredited," said Martin Steinbeck, MLT instructor.
The NAACLS is the premier international agency for accreditation and approval of educational programs in the clinical laboratory sciences and related health professions.
It's the first time the agency has granted MLT accreditation to MPCC for 10 years. The previous two accreditations were for seven years each.
Taking into consideration that April 24-30 is designated at Medical Laboratory Professionals Week and that graduates will soon be looking for jobs, the timing of the news couldn't be better.
Not that finding a job is a concern.
"The three MLT programs in the state are not filling all the positions available," said Steinbeck. "In fact, the University of Nebraska Omaha is looking for 17 med lab technicians right now."
It's a trend that's expected to continue. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of medical laboratory technicians will grow 16 percent, adding approximately 52,100 jobs, by 2024 - more than double the average growth rate for all occupations.
The Bureau attributes the increase primarily to an aging population, which in turn leads to a greater need for healthcare professionals who can diagnose medical conditions through laboratory procedures.
The Associate of Applied Science MLT Program at Mid-Plains prepares students for employment in medical, clinical, research and public health laboratories.
Upon successful completion, students are qualified to collect and receive patient specimens, perform general laboratory tests, record data and report results to physicians to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
"MLT is great for people who are organized and detail-oriented," said Stenbeck. "It requires far less direct patient contact than nursing. Most of the job is done behind laboratory doors."
MPCC's three-year average MLT graduation rate is 96.6 percent, the certification pass rate is 90 percent and the placement rate is 85.7 percent.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for med lab techs is $24.30 per hour, or roughly $50,550 per year.