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Graduate scores big with MLT
Photos and Story by James Hill
When Trish Boling, 36, first started in the Medical Laboratory Technology program, she knew very little about it.
"I had no clue about the field at all," she said. "It was more challenging than what I had been doing."
In 2003, after she was laid off from her computer chip manufacturing job, Boling was searching for a new career and decided to take a chance with MLT. Two years later, she earned the best score in the nation – out of almost 1,900 students – in the national certification exam. Her certification score was 857, almost double the mean average of 478. She is now a medical laboratory technician for Kaiser Permanente.
"It’s fun," she said of the test. "I get bragging rights for life. I had never even graduated from high school too and had only a GED. For me this was a huge accomplishment to go through this program and succeed."
Boling, a native of Vancouver, Wash., sported a 4.0 grade-point average while in the program. Medical laboratory technology is one of the most rapidly expanding health care fields. A medical laboratory technician like Boling plays an important role in health care delivery, conducting clinical tests required by physicians to make life-affecting decisions in patient care. PCC’s MLT Program, accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS), provides extensive training, including a hands-on clinical internship giving students real-world work experience.
According to the current edition of the "Jobs Rated Almanac," medical laboratory technicians are very high on the list of best jobs, ranking 18 in a list of 250 jobs. The mean starting salary for a technician nationwide is between $26,000 to $30,000, but in Oregon, the annual mean salary is almost $37,000 (according to US Bureau of Labor statistics). With the current shortage of laboratory practitioners, wages are expected to rise even higher.
"Fortunately, I was able to get a job right away," Boling said. "That was big. I had interviewed for my current job and was offered a job the last day of class. That was a bonus."
Learning opportunities in MLT are expanding, too. There is the MLT Extension Program, a partnership between PCC and other community colleges, where students can take specialized courses through PCC’s Distance Education program to earn a degree from