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.”