Five recent Hartnell College graduates not only have the distinction of being the college's first medical lab technicians-or MLTs-to graduate, but they also are the first to complete such a program at a California community college.
Hartnell is the only two-year college in California to offer an associate of science degree in medical laboratory technology.
The graduates are Salinas residents Norma Fernandez, Juju Sousa, Kathy Stoudt, Pamela Pepper-Vaught, and Catherine Nath of Marina.
The two-year, nationally accredited program was established to help solve the growing personnel crisis in California's medical labs, said Linda Delcambre, Hartnell's MLT education coordinator.
"Medical laboratory technicians," according to Delcambre, "can provide great relief and support for the short supply of clinical laboratory scientists who currently perform nearly all the tests done in medical labs." She said regulations for licensing MLTs are under review by the California legislature. To be certified, an MLT must pass a national certifying exam after completing two years of formal education in the clinical laboratory sciences.
A special graduation ceremony was held recently at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, one of local medical facilities that support the 70-unit program. Others are the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, Watsonville Community Hospital and the Natividad Medical Center.
During the evening, Hartnell President Edward Valeau presented plaques of appreciation to representatives from the four medical facilities. "Our clinical affiliates," he said, "have been incredibly generous, and much of our success is due to their commitment to this program. Due to their vision, our MLT program is known throughout the state." Valeau also said three California community colleges "are seriously committed to becoming our academic affiliates."
The dinner event was hosted by the Salinas Valley Memorial Health Care System. Keynote speaker was Karen Nickel, chief of laboratory field services for the California Department of Health.
One graduate, Pamela Pepper-Vaught, a former animal health technician, plans to get part-time work as a MLT while she pursues a bachelor's degree to become a clinical lab scientist.
Another graduate, Kathy Stoudt-who worked in the medical lab profession for the last 10 years-found the MLT program "very challenging." She said the program gave her "a strong academic background and internship experience to face the challenge of being one of the first-hopefully really soon-licensed MLTs in the state of California. I take great pride in this."
For more information about the MLT program, call Linda Delcambre at (831) 755-6765.