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MLT Student's Achieve Top Score on NCA, ASCP Exams
Photos and Story by James Hill
PORTLAND, Ore. – For the fifth time in the last eight years, students from the Portland Community College Medical Laboratory Technology program have achieved the highest score in the country on a national certification examination in January. Two graduates achieved the highest score, one with the National Certifying Agency (NCA) test, and the other on the American Society for Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) exam. The program is located at the college’s Cascade Campus, located at 705 N. Killingsworth St.Denise Kowalski (northeast Portland) 35, achieved the highest score on the NCA exam with a scaled score of 94. Gretchen Hill (St. Helens) 34, received the highest score on the ASCP test, with a scaled score of 876. Hill’s score was particularly impressive since the next highest score was 849. Both now work for Legacy Health System as medical laboratory technicians.As a group, the MLT class of 2000 performed well on both the exams, with three placing in the top 5 percent of the country. On the ASCP test, the students’ average was almost 200 points higher than the national mean: PCC’s mean was 626 while the national mean was 437. A total of 21 PCC students took the two tests, which are written exams that last approximately three hours. They cover all aspects of laboratory sciences, with the ASCP being a computer-generated test while the NCA is written.Hill, who has a bachelor’s degree from Portland State University, said that she chose PCC because of its good reputation. "Like most people I just wanted to pass and I was surprised by how well I did,"she said. "I was pretty sure I would pass but not like this. It was a combination of everything, from good instructors to my scientific background."Once they complete the program, students can go on to be medical laboratory technicians or specialists at hospital labs or smaller labs. Terry Emmons, instructor in the MLT program, says the reason students perform well and enjoy the PCC program is, "We have a very good program and a dedicated staff, plus we have good students. They are very interested in this field and work very hard. The combination of faculty and students produce these types of results."