Wytheville Community College helps fill the gap in healthcare staffing with medical laboratory program

WYTHEVILLE, Va. – There are plenty of pieces to the puzzle, like doctors and nurses, that keep a hospital running smoothly, but there is also a need for those behind the scenes.

Wytheville Community College is directly aiding in that need.

“This really interested me because of the level of hands-on [experience],” said Kinsey Tate, a second-year medical lab student at Wytheville Community College. “Starting into clinicals and actually really getting direct experience, there’s no better experience than actually going and working in the field.”

Wytheville Community College’s Medical Laboratory program is directly addressing the healthcare shortage in Southwest Virginia.

“This is a strenuous program but if you do it right – this is a job interview and a lot of these clinical sights you are going through will be the places that are looking to hire you,” Tate said.

Their medical laboratory technician program gives students hands-on experience by working in local hospitals.

That hands-on experience sets them up for post-graduation.

“Most of our students when they go through the program and participating in those clinical rotations in the 2nd year of the program, most of them have jobs before they graduate,” said Dawn Warren, department head for the medical laboratory and technology department.

They said medical lab technicians are perfect for the people passionate about medicine or science, but maybe do not want to work directly with patients all the time.

“You get the hands-on a little bit with patients, but you’re more in the background,” said Sarah Harrison, a second-year student in the program. “I’m an introvert, so I like being by myself. I like talking to the patients, and then going back.”

They said while the program is demanding, the results are proven to work.

“I thought there would be like a gap in between but I’m actually starting as a student before I graduate and then I’ll apply after,” said Brooklyn Vaughn, a second-year in the program.

They said after graduation, potential lab techs have to take a test to become certified and then can enter the field. Nearly 100% who graduate pass the test.

About the Author

Thomas grew up right here in Roanoke and is a graduate of Salem High School and Virginia Tech.

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