What’s it like to be a Clinical Laboratory Science major?
Lindsey Coulter tells us.
By Brittnie Curtis
There are so many degrees to choose from at Texas State, some of which you may never have heard of before. If you’d like to learn more about what a clinical laboratory scientist does, watch this cool video.
Q. Your degree in Clinical Laboratory Science isn’t your first. What other degrees have you earned?
A. I got my bachelor’s in microbiology and then I immediately started the master’s program in biology (specifically micro-research). Immediately after that, I started the Clinical Lab Science (CLS) program. I’ve earned all of my degrees from Texas State.
Q. Why did you get all your degrees at Texas State?
A. The professors are helpful. I can walk into my professor’s office anytime and talk with them. It’s a very friendly environment, and at CLS it’s kind of like a family. We have about 20 people a year and there are five professors, so you really get to know each other.
Q. What made you want to get your second bachelor’s degree in CLS?
A. Dr. Rodney E. Rohde is one of the main professors over there. He’s actually now the chair of the program. He told me about the program, and that’s how I got interested.
Q. What is the CLS program like?
A. It’s a really good program, and it’s selective on who gets in. You have to have already started college when you apply. You go through an interview process to make sure that you’re ready for the program, because we go nonstop. The program is a very intensive two years. It definitely requires a lot of study time. We learn everything that needs to be done in a hospital setting. For example, whenever someone needs a blood transfusion, we are the people that figure out what blood unit will be safest for that patient.
Q. Are students able to gain real-world experience with this major?
A. Yes. The first year is mainly classwork and labs, but after that you start the required five rotation blocks that are each three weeks long. In the beginning of each rotation we do class work and then are placed in a hospital or reference lab like the Clinical Pathology Laboratories (CPL). We go in the first few days and learn how to do things. We get the samples and run them, and they even let us look over the results. Of course we can’t approve anything, but we are learning how to do everything that they’re doing. You make a whole lot of contacts. I think of it as a three-week interview, so you have to be on your best behavior. You never know, they might just offer you a position after graduation!
Q. With a CLS degree, what job opportunities are open to students?
A. Most people go to work in the hospital because you need lots of clinical lab people to run the samples they receive all day long. Another job possibility would be in clinics or reference labs. Clinics usually run less tests than hospitals, but reference labs tend to get thousands of samples per day, and often get the more difficult stuff.
Q. Where do you want this degree to take you?
A. I’m hoping to work in the field of public health work, like with state health department, for example. They get all kinds of specimens and they track to see what’s happened in the state. I’d really like to work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC does research, such as testing new detection methods, and works with state health departments to monitor what is going on in the country.
Lindsey recently was awarded the Emerging Infectious Disease Fellowship, which is sponsored by the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The fellowship trains and prepares scientists for careers in public health laboratories and supports public health initiatives related to infectious disease research. The EID Fellowship is a prestigious and nationally competitive award.
Q. Congratulations. How did you hear about the fellowship?
A. Dr. Rohde told me about it. He had a few students try it before, but unfortunately most of those students didn’t made it as far as the interview process. We felt with my background with the master’s program, my applicaton would be a little more rounded and I might have a better chance. So I applied and waited four months to get a response. They said there were 325 applicants, and fewer than 20 of us got an interview.
Q. Now that you have this fellowship, tell us what happens next.
A. In September, I will be going to Atlanta to do my year-long research at the CDC! It’s like a real job and it will be great experience.
Good luck, Lindsey!