Celebration of Medical Technology Laboratory Week Highlights the Need for More Students to Enter the Field

Medical laboratory technology students at Jackson State Community College, who are celebrating a week that highlights their profession, know they are entering an open job market after graduation.

Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, April 18-24, is an annual celebration of medical laboratory professionals and pathologists who play a vital role in health care and patient advocacy, said Pete O’Brien, Jackson State’s Program Director and Associate Professor of the Medical Laboratory Technician Program.

Jackson State’s Medical Laboratory Technician Program (MLT), which began in 1969 and is one of the oldest in the country, teaches students to hunt for clues about the absence, presence, extent, and causes of diseases, O’Brien explained. “This is a field for those people who are part scientist and part detective.”

Medical laboratory technicians perform general tests in the lab. Medical laboratory testing plays a crucial role in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases as well as monitoring and maintaining patient health.

O’Brien frequently gets emails from recruiters looking for medical laboratory technicians and medical technologists for jobs that are available across the country. “Signing bonuses are a real thing, and salaries are going up,” O’Brien said.

Students interested in the 24-month program are encouraged to apply online now at jscc.edu. The student must submit an application to both the college and MLT. The deadline is June 1 to begin classes for the fall term.

The MLT program includes both academic courses and clinical instruction.

Students graduate from the program with an Associate Degree and are ready to go to work. For the past 30 years, almost all of Jackson State’s MLT graduates have passed their licensure and certification exams on the first attempt – their averages on exit exams are well above state and national averages.

The need for medical laboratory technicians has been increasing for years; the extra lab testing during the COVID pandemic increased the need even more.

Like the school’s other high-achieving programs, Jackson State’s MLT graduates typically don’t have a problem finding work. “The majority of the time, if our students want a job, they can have one when they walk across the stage at graduation,” O’Brien said. “They can go anywhere once they have this degree.”

COVID vaccine to be offered at JSCC

The Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department will offer the Pfizer vaccine to the public on Wednesday, April 21, at Jackson State Community College’s main campus located at 2046 North Parkway in Jackson. A drive-by vaccination event is planned from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the gymnasium parking lot and is open to everyone age 16 and up. There are no residency requirements for this event, and anyone wanting the vaccination is welcome to participate.

Everyone receiving the vaccination at the event is encouraged to complete the vaccination consent form in advance to expedite the process. The form can be downloaded at jscc.edu/covidconsent. The health department has scheduled the second follow-up vaccination for Wednesday, May 12, at the same location and times.

Lady GreenJays Finish Another Successful Basketball Season Under the Leadership of Coach Kelvin Lester

The Lady GreenJays basketball team finished another successful season with Coach Kelvin Lester being named the Coach of the Year for the West Division by the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA). Makayla Transou was named to the 1st Team All TCCAA, and Kamille Clark was named to the 2nd Team All TCCAA.

The Lady GreenJays also were crowned TCCAA West Division Champions for the regular season for the first time since 1989. The team’s record was 12-5 in a season shortened by the COVID pandemic.

When Lester took over as head coach full-time in 2016, the woman’s program was struggling. The team had won only 31 games in the previous six seasons.

In his first season as full-time head coach, Lester led Jackson State to its first winning season since 1996. In another accomplishment, the team began the 2019-2020 season with a 13-2 record – winning the first nine games.

Since Lester became head coach, the Lady GreenJays has compiled a 69-51 record. The regular-season wins were the most wins since the 1980s. Not counting members of the 2021 class, 14 players have signed scholarships to play at universities. In the past six years, 12 players have been named to All-TCCAA teams, 13 players have been named to the All-TCCAA Academic teams, and three players have been named National Junior College Athletic Association All-Academic Team.

Lester began his career at Jackson State in 2013 as an assistant to both men’s and women’s basketball programs. He remained the men’s assistant coach through the 2017-2018 season while becoming the women’s basketball head coach in 2016. Lester also was the head coach of both the men’s and women’s programs during the 2018-2019 season.

Besides his coaching duties, Coach Lester serves on multiple committees on campus. He is also an adjunct Psychology and College to Career Navigation professor.

COVID Relief Grant Open to JSCC Students

A limited number of emergency relief grants have been made available to Jackson State Community College students who have experienced unforeseen hardships due to COVID that have negatively impacted their educational success. The grant will pay the tuition for up to two classes during the 2021 summer semester.

To qualify, applicants must be a returning or continuing JSCC student who, due to COVID:

  • Dropped out of college; or
  • Completed fewer than 12 hours per semester; or
  • Failed a course

Approximately 300 grants are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications for the grant can be found at www.jscc.edu/comeback. “We anticipate these grants to go quickly,” states Dr. Kyle Barron, Vice President of Student Services. “Anyone interested in this opportunity should apply right away.”

Barron says he is excited about this opportunity for students. “The coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted the success of many of our students over the past year,” said Barron. “The online environment, economic hardships, health issues, or any number of other circumstances caused many students to be unsuccessful in their courses, cut back the number of courses taken, or simply drop out. This grant is an opportunity for these students to come back and get their educational journeys back on track.”

JSCC is offering many more opportunities for in-person classes in the fall semester. Currently, approximately 50% of scheduled classes will have an in-person component. The actual number of in-person classes will depend upon the demand for classes balanced with consideration for the CDC’s social-distancing recommendations.

“The FLEX option of having regular class schedules and meetings via Zoom has worked well for many of our students,” said Barron. “Zoom and traditional online options provide greater flexibility for busy schedules. We anticipate greater demand for these formats going forward.”

 

JSCC Honors Program to host public health lecture

The honors program of Jackson State Community College will host Public Health Journey and Future Directions on Wednesday, April 7. The lecture will be held on Zoom and led by Dr. Tanya Telfair LeBlanc, a Senior Health Scientist with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Tanya Telfair LeBlanc’s work includes HIV/AIDS epidemiology, post 9/11 Anthrax outbreak investigations, social determinants of health in infectious disease prevention, and national public health emergency preparedness. Dr. LeBlanc was recently deployed to serve as Associate Director of Science on the State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial COVID-19 Task Force. Currently, she serves as Senior Health Scientist/Epidemiologist for the National Center for Environmental Health, working to reduce lead exposure among children and adults. Along her career path, she developed specializations in infectious disease epidemiology, maternal and child health, medical sociology, social epidemiology, and social determinants of health and health equity.

The Zoom conference will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 7. To attend, visit https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86793238862 and use meeting ID: 867 9323 8862.

JSCC’s RADT program achieves excellence through student success

One hundred percent of the students in Jackson State’s Radiologic Technology Program passed their national certification exam on the first attempt for the fifth year in a row.

Jackson State has now graduated 101 students from the program in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016. All students passed the national certification exam offered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART) on their first attempt just six months after completing the program.

“It’s a collaborative effort between the students and faculty and the clinical instructors and staff at the hospitals,” said Kim Benson, Program Director and Associate Professor for Radiologic Technology. “We put in so many hours to make sure the students are provided with every opportunity to succeed. It’s the hard work and dedication of the students, and it’s the effort of their support team.

According to Benson, the pandemic created significant challenges in 2020. “It was necessary for students and faculty to transfer to an online format, and clinical rotations were halted for several months in the spring term,” she said. “Even in the face of adversity, the RADT Class of 2020 successfully completed their program and excelled on their credentialing exam.”

JSCC RADT students have scored 100% on the first attempt on the national certification exam 9 out of 12 years. Benson said this is what they strive for every year. “It says to prospective students that the program is doing what it is designed to do. It is teaching you the skills you need to become an entry-level radiographer.”

In addition to the credentialing exam pass rates, other benchmarks that indicate the program and graduate success are program completion and job placement rates. The five-year completion rate is 97 percent, and the five-year job-placement rate within six months of program completion is 98 percent.

“This level of success can be attributed to the hard work, dedication, resilience, and determination of the students,” Benson said. “They make many sacrifices in order to maintain high grades throughout a program that is six consecutive semesters in length with more than 1,700 hours of clinical education – the highest number of clinical education hours required of any of the nursing and health sciences programs at Jackson State.”

Another reason for this success is the effort of Jackson State faculty and the clinical instructors and support staff from affiliate hospitals, Benson said.

“We invest a large amount of time into our students’ education, but even more than that, we invest a part of ourselves,” Benson said. “Our students recognize we are not perfect, but we are providing them with the opportunity to achieve a level of success that is unlimited. Our relationship with students lasts well into their professional careers and doesn’t end when they graduate.”

When Jackson State’s Radiologic Technology Program began in 1969, it was the first college-based associate degree radiography program in Tennessee and the third in the United States. It is one of the original health sciences programs initiated when the college was established more than 50 years ago, and it began with one clinical affiliate – Jackson-Madison County General Hospital – and five students.

Since those humble beginnings, the program continues to partner with JMCGH and has expanded to include clinical affiliations with West Tennessee Healthcare in Dyersburg, Henry County Medical Center in Paris, and Baptist Memorial Hospital in Union City.

Today, Jackson State is one of six community colleges to offer an associate degree in Radiologic Technology in Tennessee and currently has some of the highest numbers of credentialing exam pass rates.

“Our faculty is very pleased with the efforts of all RADT students, especially those who just completed in August,” Benson said. “The students had a long summer term of review, and that dedication paid off in their 100 percent pass rate this year. They are to be congratulated and commended. These graduates now join the history of a program of success.”

To learn more about the Radiologic Technology program at JSCC, visit jscc.edu/rt or call 731-424-3520 ext. 50300.

Coach Marvin Williams Inducted into TCCAA Hall of Fame

Basketball Coach Marvin Williams, one of the most successful coaches in the history of Jackson State Community College, was inducted into the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association Hall of Fame on March 20.

“It is always an honor to be chosen for a Hall of Fame,” Williams said when he was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame four years ago.

During his six years of coaching women’s basketball at Jackson State from 1979 to 1985, Williams led the Lady Generals to a 103-20 record, as they won 83.7 percent of their games.

Under Williams, the women’s basketball team was undefeated in the Tennessee Junior College Athletic Association in the 1980-81 season. The next year, the team won every game against opponents in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi and finished third in the National Junior College tournament.

“We should have won the 1981 national championship,” Williams said. “We had the best team there, but we had to play four nights in a row.”

Williams completed his college coaching career at Austin Peay State University, where he helped lead the Governors to a conference championship in his first year.

A native of Hardeman County, Williams earned degrees from Bethel University and Freed Hardeman University. During his 21 years of coaching high school and 11 years at the college level, his teams won more than 900 games.

Among his many accomplishments, Coach Williams was a nominee for National Coach of the Year in 1978 and won two Tennessee Junior College Championships. Besides the TCCAA Hall of Fame, he was inducted into four other Halls of Fame: Bethel University in 1981, Freed-Hardeman University in 1989, Bolivar Central High School in 2006, and TSSAA in 2017

PTA information session to be held online

The Physical Therapist Assistant program at Jackson State Community College will host an information session for those interested in learning more about the program. The session will be held on Zoom on Tuesday, March 30 beginning at 7 p.m. Visit www.jscc.edu/ptainfo for the link to the conference.

The program is designed for students who intend to begin a career as a physical therapist assistant upon graduation. Graduates of Jackson State’s PTA program are eligible to apply for licensure in any state and, if approved by that state, sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination.

Additional information about the PTA program at JSCC can be found at www.jscc.edu/pta. For more information regarding the information session, contact Jane David, PTA program director, at 731-424-3520 ext. 50214 or jdavid@jscc.edu.

JSCC to return to in-person classes for fall semester

Jackson State Community College’s administration has announced plans to return in-person classes to the course schedule this fall. Classes for the college have been primarily in an online environment since March of 2020.

The fall schedule will include returning a much larger selection of traditional in-person classes across most programs and majors at the college’s locations in Jackson, Humboldt, Lexington, Paris, and Savannah. “In-person classes offer students a more traditional face-to-face classroom experience,” said Dr. Larry Bailey, VP of Academic Affairs. “Students can interact with their professors and other students, participate in class discussions, and enjoy group activities.”

A survey discovered that many students had found the FLEX or Zoom format to give them the added flexibility they need for their busy lives. This format will be retained to give students the added flexibility they need. All formats to be included in the schedule will consist of:

In-person – Classes will meet face-to-face at one of the college’s locations on scheduled days and times.

FLEX (Zoom) – Classes will meet face-to-face online through Zoom at scheduled days and times.

Online – Classes will meet online using the D2L (elearn) system. Classes do not have assigned meeting times or dates, and students complete assignments scheduled by the professor.

Hybrid – Classes will meet face-to-face at one of the college’s locations and either online or FLEX (Zoom) on scheduled days and times.

“We want students to have the opportunity for a more traditional college experience again as the college prepares to return to normal operations,” said Dr. George Pimentel, JSCC President. “Safety for students, faculty, and staff will remain our number one priority as we continue to follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Health, and The Tennessee Board of Regents’ College System of Tennessee.”

Priority registration for currently enrolled students begins on April 5, and open registration will begin on April 19. For more information or to schedule a campus tour, visit the college website at www.jscc.edu/gotime or call 731-425-8844.

JSCC reduces operational status to Level 2

The Pandemic Response Team has determined that the operational status of the college will be returned to Level 2 beginning Thursday, March 18. This change was made due to the continued downward trend of COVID cases being reported in our service area. There are currently no reports of COVID cases from any areas of campus.

The most visible change in the operational status will be the removal of security guards from the gates. Until the status moves to Level 1, the daily screening protocol, face mask requirement, social distancing, and other safety measures will still be in force for all people coming to campus. Custodial staff also will remain vigilant with enhanced cleaning protocols at all JSCC locations.

This is considered a positive step toward a return to normalcy. Should all indicators continue to point in the right direction, it is hoped that the Level 1 operational status can be put into force by May 1. “We are looking forward to bringing all of our employees and students back to campus as soon as possible,” said Dr. George Pimentel, JSCC President. “We will make certain that we reopen in the most responsible manner without putting any of our constituents in harm’s way.”