Medical Laboratory Sciences Students Graduate into Strong Job Market

By Ben Boulden

“You have been an exceptionally good class,” said Nathan Johnson, Ph.D. “You’ve done well in many different areas. I know it isn’t easy going through a program like this. Some of you visiting today may not know what type of courses they have been taking. They are taking hematology, parasitology, urinalysis, immunology, microbiology, clinical chemistry, molecular biology — and they’re taking many of them all at the same time.”

Johnson is professor and chair of the UAMS College of Health Professions Department of Laboratory Sciences and director of the Medical Laboratory Sciences program.

He said students in the program don’t get any extended breaks during the week like most college students. They attend classes all day long.

Still, the hard work likely will pay off for all of them very quickly. In fact, the American Society for Clinical Pathology found a near 8% vacancy rate of lab professionals’ positions across the nation.

“While alarming, it’s not breaking news,” said the college’s Dean Susan Long, Ed.D. “For nearly two decades, the society and the rest of the laboratory community have been sounding the alarm on the dire shortage of trained laboratory personnel.”

Cherika Robertson, assistant program director of the department’s On-Campus Program, presented awards to students and faculty, starting off with the Quiz Bowl team, the Mighty Chondrians.

They were: Aurora Edwards, Taylor Johnson, Kaitlyn Lancaster and Maram Qattum. The team won the statewide competition in 2023.

Next at the event, three students received certificates of recognition for their service during the 2022-2023 academic year in the UAMS chapter of the Laboratory Sciences Student Association: Colton Oest, secretary, Kaitlyn Lancaster, vice president, and Abby Akins, president.

Each program within the College of Health Professions selects a student every academic year as a Faculty Gold Key recipient to recognize their exceptional leadership, GPA, volunteerism and attendance.

“This year’s selection of the Faculty Gold Key was very challenging,” Robertson said. “Faculty decided to choose two recipients.”

They recognized Abby Akins and Justine Bersonda.

Students who graduated from the program in December and received their personalized white coats were:

April Aguila
Abby Akins
Delaney Allen
Hannah Beck
Justine Bersonda
Sydnee Biscoe
Taylor Collins
Aurora Edwards
Sasha Faucette
Kaitlyn Ford
Erin Jambon
Erin Johnson
Taylor Johnson
Kaitlyn Lancaster
Colin Matthews
Courtney McDaniel
Colton Oest
Lydia Page
Rachel Perkins
Maram Qattum
Elizabeth Schneider
Marci Taylor
Jennifer Wenger