Recent graduates in clinical laboratory science make great specimens of their profession
Clinical laboratory science. To some, the phrase means nothing. It makes others imagine white lab coats, sterile gloves, and hours spent in a dark room. . . it all sounds so very, well, clinical.
But Loma Linda University clinical laboratory science alumnae Sarah Stewart and Tiffany Lo know otherwise. Their experiences show off the personality hidden in a relatively unknown career choice.
Ms. Stewart has taken the skills she learned in the clinical laboratory science department at LLU’s School of Allied Health Professions to the government, where she is working to learn more about emerging infectious disease such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and other infectious respiratory agents. She earned this opportunity by being awarded a one-year fellowship through the Association of Public Health Laboratories in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Ms. Stewart’s application could easily have been overlooked among the roughly 359 others submitted by worthy candidates—including graduate and post-doctoral applicants. Instead Ms. Stewart, who earned a BS in the School of Allied Health Professions, rose to the top and was one of only 15 to be awarded a fellowship.
In practical application, this means the opportunity of a lifetime. Ms. Stewart was given her pick of state and CDC laboratories for which to work. She chose the Washington State Public Health Laboratory because of its work under Dr. David Boyle discovering faster ways to identify and run susceptibility testing with Mycobacterium tuberculosis using Luminex bead technology. Similar application will be used for other respiratory diseases.
“I am not sure exactly what made me stand out,” Ms. Stewart says, “but I am not exactly shy. I am confident in my training and education that I have received at Loma Linda University. The clinical laboratory science program at the SAHP is awesome!”
Ms. Stewart said clinical lab science instructors and administrators encouraged her and gave her a solid knowledge base. She particularly mentioned microbiology, management, and seminar classes.
“As I sat in front of the panel of interviewers [for the fellowship] and explained to them that I learned the administration and operations of a clinical lab, and how I gained first-hand experience in the process of reviewing and purchasing an instrument for the clinical lab—they were amazed,” she remembers. “I do not think, from talking to the other fellows, that anyone else has had that opportunity.”
Fellow graduate Tiffany Lo has taken her training in a different direction. She views it as a solid foundation that will help her be a good physician. Ms. Lo began medical school this month in the LLU School of Medicine.
“My roots will always be in the clinical lab,” she says. “Understanding that the laboratory assists with a physician’s diagnosis and other laboratory specificities is important to remember when practicing medicine.”
Her clinical laboratory training has also given her an awareness of the political issues interwoven with scientific and medical careers. While at LLU, Ms. Lo served as a student representative for the American Society of Clinical Laboratory Science for the states of California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii.
In this capacity, she lobbied Congressman Jerry Lewis—who represents the 41st Congressional District of Southern California—about clinical laboratory issues such as lab personnel shortages, competitive bidding, and reimbursement for lab services. Ms. Lo also met more than 100 clinical lab science professionals and students from across the United States when she attended a legislative symposium this past March in Washington, D.C.
“The experience was exhilarating because it allowed me to see that there are other professionals that are passionate about the profession and its future as a crucial part of health care.
“In addition, the staffers at the House of Representatives and the Senate were extremely helpful, friendly, and responsive. This made me want to learn more and become more active in the political world of health care.”
(909) 558-4526 or ext. 42932