Getting your lab results: Medical Lab Scientists bring real-world testing to MTU

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Society of Medical Lab Scientists

Medical Laboratory Science students and SMLS members (from left to right) Jenna Disser, Jessica McQuinn and Kacie Ziolkowski are seen here working in Michigan Tech’s on-campus COVID-19 lab.

Madison Degnitz, Pulse Editor

While you may not know what a medical laboratory scientist does, you’ve probably been impacted by their work at one point in your life. Whether it’s a routine blood or urine test or something more serious, before any decision is made regarding treatment or diagnosis, your doctor consults tests run by hospital lab staff, which, you guessed it–is made up of medical laboratory scientists! 

Medical Laboratory Scientists are in high demand, and graduates from Michigan Tech’s Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) program are “often at the front of the line,” according to the program’s website. This “front of the line” mentality is especially evident in the MLS students that work in Michigan Tech’s own COVID-19 laboratory. Not only does this provide students with hands-on, real-world experience, but it also greatly helps the local community in its own battle against the coronavirus. 

The Society of Medical Laboratory Scientists (SMLS) is a student organization on Michigan Tech’s campus that is made up of MLS students. According to Public Relations Officer Kailee Kovach, the mission of the group is, “to connect future and current professionals in the medical laboratory science community while fostering a sense of success, academic excellence, and community involvement.” 

This mission is clearly seen in the group’s work, both on and off campus. In addition to the COVID-19 lab, SMLS members also participate in study groups and various volunteer activities, such as Make a Difference Day. Typically the group will host HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) students from local high schools in the main MLS lab, where students will be introduced to MLS and participate in different lab-related demonstrations. These events have been postponed due to COVID, but SMLS looks forward to hosting them again in the future. 

Spreading word of what Medical Laboratory Scientists do is also a big mission of the group. “A lot of people don’t even know that medical lab science is an area of study, and if we can educate more people on our field, we see it as a huge benefit,” Kovach says. “Approximately 70% of medical decisions are made with laboratory testing information in mind and there is a national shortage of scientists. In a pandemic, it’s important more than ever that people know what we do.”

Beyond helping each other succeed academically and professionally, SMLS is also a close group of friends. Because they are part of a small department, most students take all of their major-related classes together. They get to know each other, as well as their instructors, on a more personal level, something that is unique at a university with some very large departments.

SMLS members pride themselves on having a “super inclusive, welcoming, fun, and crazy (smart) environment to study and talk to others in,” Kovach says. “It’s been harder with the pandemic, but I think when people come to one of our meetings or join us for a case study review, it’s always a lot of fun.”

To learn more about the Society of Medical Laboratory Scientists at Michigan Tech, you can contact Public Relations Officers Kailee Kovach at [email protected] and Lilly Van Loon at [email protected] or SMLS president Bee Kellogg at [email protected]. You can also check out the group on Involvement Link or Facebook. To see what an MLS degree at Michigan Tech can do for you, check out the program here