Effective July 1, Metro State will operate the Colorado Center for Medical Laboratory Science, a program that provides post-baccalaureate-level training for medical laboratory scientists.
The program complements Metro State’s baccalaureate-level nursing program and its Department of Health Professions, which houses academic programs in gerontology, health care management, human nutrition and dietetics, integrative therapies and recreation professions
“We recognize that health care is a key industry for Colorado, and it’s our commitment as an urban institution to ensure we are producing a pipeline of highly qualified candidates to fill these jobs,” says Metro State President Stephen Jordan. “Adding the medical laboratory science program complements and expands upon Metro State’s recognized health profession education programs.”
Established in 1962, the program has been sponsored by the Colorado Health Foundation since the 1990s. With the goal of moving the program toward self-sufficiency, the foundation’s board of directors directed its staff to find a new sponsor in 2007. After extensive conversations with several potential sponsors, the foundation reached an agreement with Metro State.
Last year, the program moved from Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center—where it has been housed since the 1980s—into a new expanded teaching facility at the Medical Center of Aurora. Metro State will continue to lease that space at a market rate. Under the agreement, the foundation will provide nearly $1 million to offset operational costs and tuition, and the program will increase the number of students it enrolls from 18 to 24. No tax dollars will be used to support the program.
“This gives Metro State yet another educational training program to benefit working professionals with relevant, applied-learning opportunities,” says Carol Svendsen, associate vice president of extended campus programs at Metro State. “Since the demand for medical laboratory scientists is growing locally and nationally, there is much potential to expand this program as a sole provider in the Denver-metro area.”
The transfer comes as the field of medical laboratory science experiences a severe workforce shortage. A 2008 U.S. Department of Labor study estimated that 53,300 new medical laboratory scientists would be needed nationally between 2008 and 2018. In Colorado, the laboratory science field projects a 26 percent increase in job demand during the next 10 years.
The program offers a nationally accredited, one-year post-baccalaureate program that includes a variety of student laboratory and clinical course work in all areas of laboratory medicine. Graduates are eligible to sit for the national certification examination in medical laboratory science (MLS) offered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology. The program has retained 90 percent of its graduates for Colorado-based positions, with 70 percent of them remaining in metropolitan Denver.
“We believe that Metro State is an excellent fit for the Colorado Center for Medical Laboratory Science,” says Anne Warhover, president and CEO of the foundation. “We’re confident Metro State can foster the program’s continued growth and long-term sustainability while addressing a critical health care workforce need.”
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