A Look Back at MLS Program

After more than 10 months, the Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) program at Mayo Clinic has come to an end. Looking back on my time in this program, I have found a greater appreciation for lab medicine and feel prepared to step into my career and make an impact on the lives of others.

Having the privilege to study at such a prestigious clinic opened many doors for me. I was able to experience a high volume of testing, assist in the operation of many cutting-edge testing methods, and see probable diagnoses that many other places wouldn’t typically see. Not only that, but the laboratory staff members in each department are incredibly knowledgeable in their expertise, and they are more than happy to educate all of us as we prepare to enter the field.

Between classroom lectures from lab directors to rotating through work areas with other techs, I feel that I have received a one-of-a-kind education that will have lasting impacts as I progress in my career.

However, what has been the biggest revelation of my time at Mayo is just how important the laboratory is to helping the patient. While sometimes the "unsung heroes," the laboratory staff who perform the behind-the-scenes work play a major role in the overall patient-care process.

While we may not be at the bedside collecting samples or discussing the diagnosis, the laboratory is what puts all the pieces together.

Between running the samples, receiving and interpreting results, and making sure that those results are correct and reliable, the laboratory is able to ensure that the result is of the highest quality so that the patients can be confident that they are receiving top-notch care. That result could provide a patient and his/her family with the answer they’ve been desperately searching for, or it could help catch a problem before it becomes worse.

My time in this program has shown me that what happens in the laboratory is so vital to the patient-care process, and it has also shown me that my job will be able to make a difference in the lives of others—something I will always remember as I continue to work in this field. Mayo Clinic has given me all the tools to succeed as a professional in the laboratory setting, and no matter where this profession takes me, the education I have received will continue to follow my fellow classmates and me as we begin our young careers as medical laboratory scientists.

Alex Harker

Alex Harker is a student in Mayo Clinic’s medical laboratory science (MLS) program. He was born in southern Wisconsin and is completing his clinical laboratory science degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Alex enjoys watching football and basketball, drinking coffee, and hiking.