At a young age, children have an idea of what they want to be when they grow up. From lawyers, to doctors, to scientists, children believe they can do it all. However, clinical laboratory science is not for everyone. In fact, Courtney Lower, who graduated from the University of Illinois-Springfield in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science degree in CLS, would attest to that. She believes that for someone to succeed in this field, one “must have patience, a high level of problem solving skills, and a compassion for helping others.” Possessing all of those skills is necessary when providing laboratory information and services that are required for the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
A clinical laboratory scientist not only performs laboratory tests, but he or she must also be able to explain the significance of these tests to physicians and other health professionals. A CLS must also be able to evaluate new methods and determine the effectiveness of new laboratory tests. This intense problem solving, along with her love for science, was what attracted Lower to the degree in the first place – which has in turn opened up the door to several possibilities.
Receiving a CLS degree has the potential to set one up for a multitude of exciting careers. A graduate can work in laboratories in several different settings: hospital, clinic, reference, government, or commercial. Within those laboratories, one could work in areas such as microbiology, chemistry, blood bank, hematology, and virology. Opportunities also exist in stem cell laboratories and veterinary clinics. Graduates can also use the degree to propel themselves into graduate or medical school.
Typically, CLS students take several science courses—typically chemistry and biology—before starting their degree-specific coursework. Most students take a similar route of three years of undergraduate schooling followed by a year in a laboratory setting to finish out their degree. Students enjoy this short schooling because it means that they can get into laboratories sooner. In particular, Lower remarked that, “My favorite program was rotations. It prepared me for transitioning from the classroom to the laboratory and I was able to gain more hands-on knowledge.”
Receiving a clinical laboratory degree has never been better when it comes to the job search. Graduates are basically guaranteed a job, partly because the degree is so versatile and partly because of abundant vacancies in the field. Hopefully this will be a degree that inspires young students let their love for science grow and partake in this field, allowing them to truly be able to do it all. Children can grow up knowing that they can serve a wide variety of employment opportunities and that their dreams can grow right along with them.
-Shannon Little is from Stillwater, Minnesota and is currently a journalism student at the University of Missouri. She is the fundraising chairman for Autism Speaks U. and is active in her sorority. In her free time, she enjoys watching U of M football.