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Shine A Light: Microscope Exposes Hidden Career Field
Microscope Exposes Hidden Career Field
You feel ill and make the drive to the doctor’s office. After explaining your symptoms, your doctor sends you to the lab for a blood sample. But what really happens to your blood that helps determine a diagnosis? Former Collin College student Anita Strong can elucidate the hidden pathway which includes detection, diagnosis and treatment because she is studying to be a clinical laboratory technologist.

The career name may not sound glamorous, but Strong explains clinical laboratory technologists, also known as medical technologists, know it takes a team to provide quality healthcare to patients. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these individuals work with contagious samples and locate microbes, parasites and irregular cells in body fluids and even find the correct blood for transfusions. Ironically, while clinical technologists may be invisible to the general public, people depend on the fact that they deftly perform their duties.

Strong is currently in the process of earning a bachelor’s degree in Clinical Laboratory Sciences from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston via the University of Texas at Tyler.

“The clinical laboratory technologist has to know what various organisms look like in all kinds of body fluids, such as whole blood, cerebral spinal fluid or peritoneal fluid. Yeast, fungi, bacteria or parasites are immediately placed on hold for pathology review. I am amazed what you can learn just by looking through a microscope versus waiting for results from a laboratory test. I love to look at blood now.”

Years ago Strong attended Collin College prior to earning a bachelor’s of science degree in chemistry from The University of Texas at Dallas and a master’s degree in biophysics from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW). When she was laid off because of defense contract budget cuts, she decided to return to Collin College.

“I decided there was no better place than Collin College to take the classes I needed. My microbiology professor, Dr. Lawson, has a Ph.D. from UTSW. If I can get someone educated from a school with Nobel Prizewinners why shouldn’t I go there? At Collin I received personal attention, and my classes were small. I know the building does not a college make, but the infrastructure and laboratories are so organized, and they care so much about safety at Collin,” Strong said.

Strong says one of the things she likes best about her new career field is that she has so many options. Clinical laboratory technologists can work in hospitals, laboratories, veterinary offices, delve into research or work in global health. She explains that today’s medicine is not like the television show “House”; doctors do not typically do their own laboratory testing.

“Physicians have to trust data they are given. Keeping the blood supply safe is really important. We live in a global economy, and we have diseases we thought we defeated that are starting to show up again. I chose this field because I want to feel like I have a made a difference. It is rewarding,” Strong said.

Reprinted with permission by Allen Image