Department of Biomedical Laboratory Science
"People say that it is possible to major in whatever you want if you are a pre-med student, just as long as you take the required classes. Although that might be true, it is not necessarily the best piece of advice. During my orientation I distinctly remember someone saying that the information you are taught in medical school is like drinking out of a fire hose. I have found this analogy to be alarmingly true. My IMS major and the CLS courses have been incredibly helpful in helping me process the immense amount of information we are given on a daily basis. It has given me a solid background in material we are being taught now. Even establishing the vocabulary of certain subjects has been helpful. Several of my colleagues who do not have a background in courses like Immunology, Hematology, or Microbiology, for example, have never even heard of some of the terms our professors throw out regularly. It's like having to decipher another language. It is as if we are already expected to have some sort of background in this material. Although you have the freedom to choose between several majors as a pre-med student, it is a good idea to keep your ultimate goal in mind. Everything that you learn now has the potential to help you in the future, as a medical student and as a physician."
Michelle is now attending Medical School at Creighton University.
- Michelle Nguyen (IMS 2013)
"I just finished my first year of medical school. It was tough! This past block, we took immunology, endocrine, bit of microbiology, and sexual reproduction
along with anatomy and histology.
Not to brag, but I aced the immunology part of the exams. I ended up studying from my immunology lecture manual and reading parts of Kuby's textbook. It was much more concise with more than enough details for what my med school required. I spent a couple hours a night back when I was taking the IMS immunology class to take notes from the class PowerPoint and to glue pictures from the slides that I found helpful. I'm so glad I did!!!! This manual saved my life this past block!!! My last block also included a bit of microbiology. So apparently Mizzou is changing their curriculum so micro is spread out through the first two years of med school instead of cramming it all in one block. During this last block, I was pretty much saying, "bring it Neisseria, I can ID you." Don't worry. I didn't let the cockiness get to my head too much. I still studied micro diligently and I'm pretty sure I got every meningitis question right. I think this was my easiest block yet because we did Immunology as well. Man, those CLS classes are really helping me out.
IMS has been beneficial in my career thus far. Many people outside of my medical school classmates have approached me and complimented me on my laboratory knowledge. I think many medical students struggle with "memorizing" all the lab tests, especially for Micro. But having experience in plating the organisms and actually doing all of the CLS labs, I feel more confident with the specifics of microorganism identification. IMS was definitely a curriculum that benefits you as much as the effort you put in. Looking back, I am really glad that I put in the effort into understanding the class materials during my 4 years with the CLS/IMS department. I can confidently say that if I had to do my college years over again, I would most definitely be an IMS again and would highly recommend other pre-meds to join. If there is one lesson that I have learned through my time at SLU and my first year of medical school education, it is that learning must be an active process. It is asking the questions such as "why?" and "how?" that really gets you far. Do not expect to gain the maximum knowledge from IMS by just sitting in class and passively listening. The curriculum is built so that you can ask questions and actively participate in the learning process. Lastly, I would like to thank everyone in the department for their warm support and encouragement through my 4 years at SLU and even until this day. I couldn't have made it this far without them!"
Shizuka Tomatsu, IMS '11
M.D. Candidate 2017, University of Missouri Columbia School of Medicine
"I graduated with a B.S. in Investigative Medical Sciences from Saint Louis University in 2011. Although I began my education at SLU in the Physical Therapy Program, I transferred to IMS when I decided to pursue medical school. I was drawn to the Department of Biomedical Laboratory Science because their classes emphasize sciences that are relevant to the practice of medicine. Equally important, courses are taught by knowledgeable faculty members, who are very accessible and willing to help students any way they can.
Currently, I am about to begin my second year of medical school at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. After one year, I can honestly say that my IMS education has been one of my most valuable assets in medical school. Difficult concepts such as renal physiology, differentiating cell-types and inflammatory reactions have come much easier to me than they have to many of my classmates. I believe this is because the IMS curriculum provided me with a strong, working knowledge of core medical principles. Additionally, I have found the diagnostic emphasis of the program has given me a head start when it comes to clinical reasoning skills.
I cannot thank the Department of Biomedical Laboratory Science enough. It is rare to find a faculty so passionate about their field and invested in their students. I would absolutely recommend pursuing a CLS or IMS degree to anyone interested in a career as a physician."
- Michael Dahle, IMS '11
"I graduated from Saint Louis University with a B.S. in Investigative and Medical Sciences in 2011. I spent my first two years at SLU bouncing from one major to another, unsure of how I wanted to spend my pre-med years, until l I discovered the Department of Biomedical Laboratory Science. I quickly realized the IMS curriculum provided everything I wanted for my undergraduate education: a rigorous, medically-based curriculum with relevant clinical information taught by knowledgeable, approachable and highly-invested faculty, along with the opportunity to explore other areas of academic interest.
I am currently a first-year medical student at the University of Illinois. As I communicate in medical context with my colleagues, I have realized the basic science background I received from my time as an IMS major at SLU far exceeds that of many other M1s. While most M1 students were struggling to learn such things as the coagulation cascade, appearance of various cell types under light microscopy, bacterial growth characteristics, countless metabolic pathways and diversity of immune responses (just to name a few), I simply had to recall them. Even the level of detail of these topics between the IMS curriculum and my medical school courses was similar. My choice to follow the IMS curriculum provided by the Department of Biomedical Laboratory at SLU was one of the best decisions I made during my college years."
- M.D. Candidate, (IMS '11)
"I have just completed my first week of medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia and it went really well! I was very surprised at how much more knowledgeable and qualified my IMS degree made me in comparison to the rest of my peers!! This week (as is the case for most weeks) our case study involved interpretation of hematology, urinalysis and serum chemistry results in order to diagnose our patient's condition -- concepts which have not been taught in our medical school lectures yet, so it is my advantage that I am already highly knowledgeable about how to accurately and rapidly interpret all of these different laboratory tests!
I have had an effortless transition from undergraduate classes to medical school education because of how well SLU prepared me. While I am enjoying this new phase in my education at Mizzou, I do miss SLU and the CLS department!"
- Lila Wahidi, IMS '12
"It has been 2 weeks since I have started medical school, and it has been so busy. Before even the first day of lecture we were expected to listen to 8 lectures. Though it has been really difficult, I have had a much easier time than most of my classmates because I am used to the rigor due the IMS courses I have taken. So I just wanted to say thank you for everything you guys have taught me. I cannot believe how much easier the first few weeks have been due to the IMS classes I have taken. I barely have to study for biochemistry or histology because I have learned all the material when I took biochemistry and microbiology as part of IMS. Everything I learned in all the classes is helping me tie together all the material I am learning right now.
I feel very lucky to have been prepared so well for medical school. So I really wanted to show my gratitude and say thank you. When I come back to St. Louis, I will definitely be coming back to visit. Thank you once again for everything."
- Dhaatri Kuchipudi '13
"Second year was tough, but very rewarding. I will l say, if it wasn't for you (Department of Biomedical Lab Science) I would have struggled more on that very difficult exam. My classes from SLU helped me out a ton! I feel like I am well on my way to be a great Osteopathic physician. It was nice to see how to relate the basic sciences of biochemistry, physiology and anatomy from the first year to pharmacology, internal medicine and pathology of the second year.
I still have a ton of learning to go but it's going to be great! My favorite events were being "student doctor" to the rodeo events. Working rodeo events was great OMT (Osteopathic Manual Manipulation) practice as the cowboys needed all the help they could get! I love living in the Wild West!!!
Attached is a picture of me as "student doctor" standing "behind the chutes" looking very official in my Western gear - I love rodeo!!! :) (If you are familiar with bull riding you might recognize the famous Cody Campbell, Ned Cross and Beau Hill behind me!)"
- Megan Sorich (CLS Alumni)
My Clinical Laboratory Science education at Saint Louis University has be an invaluable asset thus far in my medical education, and will continue to be in the future in my career as a physician. Through the hands-on clinical experience, opportunities to conduct research independently with the guidance of a faculty mentor, and the one-on-one teaching and attention from CLS faculty, I was able to develop into a student that was motivated and challenged to truly understand all aspects of the clinical laboratory.
By having a background in CLS, I am able to provide an important perspective on clinical problem solving and contribute to the education and understanding of my fellow medical school peers. During a recent class, I was given the opportunity to present and discuss a hematology case to my colleagues. It was very rewarding to be able to feel comfortable in discussing a hematology case-thanks to everything that Dr. Tim Randolph and the dedicated CLS faculty taught me! Having a solid understanding of the clinical laboratory diagnosis of disease has allowed me to pursue greater depth in my understanding of other aspects of medicine, solidifying those concepts as well. It has been great to know much more about diagnostic laboratory medicine than what is being taught for my medical school courses. When final grades were calculated for the Hematology/Oncology course, I earned Honors in the course (top 10 percent of the class grades)! I came within one percent of Honors in Infectious Disease, but fell just a little short. This definitely would not have been possible without the BLS background!
In addition to a strong background in academics, the SLU and BLS faculty encouraged, supported, and facilitated my development as a well-rounded person and pursuit of becoming a "woman for others". I would never trade my CLS education at SLU for anything else, and am proud to be a "Daughter of Saint Louis University, Forever".
- Sarah Henn (CLS Alumni)
I'm almost two months into my medical training and I have really enjoyed myself thus far. As far as classes go, I really haven't had too much trouble grasping the material and staying on top of things. Honestly, I owe a lot of my achievements so far to all my great professors and mentors at SLU, especially in the CLS Department. One great example of how I have benefited from my CLS education was this week as we began a unit in hematology. We are currently covering topics such as observing blood smears under a microscope, examining blood work results, and learning about the different categories of anemias. Thankfully, I developed a strong foundation in these subjects last semester (thanks to Tim!) and have been ahead of my class in that respect.
Beyond the classroom, UMKC allows first year students to gain clinical experience and start developing key clinical skills right from the onset by working alongside a docent or a mentoring physician. Every week I'm seeing patients and learning about new diseases and conditions. Last week we interviewed a patient with hepatitis and later when my docent asked our group for the physiological basis of the disease, I was able to contribute to the conversation due to my past instruction during biochemistry class (so thanks Uthay!). In addition, my past instruction in microbiology and urinalysis (I'm looking at you Donna and Rita!) has given me a leg up on the rest of my class when discussing patients and the conditions they suffer from. On my first day of clinical training, my docent went around the room and asked each student if they could list some conditions associated with a clinical manifestation he provided. My word was hematuria. Thanks to my past instruction, I was able to surprise my docent with a lengthy list of medical conditions.
All in all, I can truly say that the instruction and training I received at SLU through the CLS Department has put me ahead of the rest of my class and has made the difficult transition from undergraduate education to medical school so much easier. I remember Tim saying that IMS was by far the best major for any pre-med student going on to medical school, and I would absolutely agree. One of the best decisions I made at SLU was to switch my major from Biology to IMS because as a result of that decision, I now have a solid foundation in both the medical and clinical sciences.
- Comron Hassanzadeh
I am currently an internal medicine resident planning to specialize in infectious disease. I am a 2005 graduate of Saint Louis University's Investigative and Medical Sciences Program. I was very fortunate to be a part of this program and get to know and work with their incredible faculty and staff. The program was smaller back then but has since grown each year. However, the size of the program seems to remain somewhat smaller compared to a 200 person lecture course, which many of us really liked about the program. The faculty were amazing teachers and very thorough. The courses were very detailed and this program is perfect for anyone interested in medicine. I would highly recommend this IMS Program.
Many of the courses in the IMS Program are geared toward aspects of medicine such that as a future physician, you will learn how to perform as well as the background of any laboratory test you could order or require for proper care of your patients. The medical microbiology course provides not only basic knowledge in microbiology, but the laboratory aspect in understanding how bacteria grow and what they will look like under a microscope. These are all important things to know as a clinician especially when attempting to explain to a patient why his or her cultures from an infection may take 24-48 hours (even days or weeks) to show any results. There are other courses as well that as a future physician will help with understanding of urinalysis (such as how to interpret a urinary tract infection), hematology (study of blood, anemia, cancer), and research studies including how to read a medical journal article and interpret if it is an adequate or helpful study.
The IMS program is a remarkable program that will help anyone further strengthen their pre-med background and provide essential skills and knowledge while in medical school and future practice of medicine. The faculty and staff are willing to help in any way possible and very supportive of their students. If you are pre-med, again, I highly recommend the IMS program to consider as your major.
- Julie Shapiro, IMS '05
I received my MLS degree from Saint Louis University in 2012. I am now the lead tech on nights at SSM DePaul Health Center, a level 2 trauma center. My education at SLU definitely helped prepare me for this job.
The biggest benefits I received from SLU, though, were the skills learned in the management courses and by being a laboratory assistant. The only techs I've spoken to with any knowledge of managing went through SLU's program. My biggest interests, professionally, are in nursing-tech-doctor relationships. The way nurses and doctors interact with the lab was completely not what I expected as a student, so I've been working on changing that (at my hospital, at least). With the help of nurses, paramedics, and pharmacy, we've set up several potlucks and charitable donations. My work helping re-establish the student program gave me a strong advantage coordinating events.
While I've made plenty of friends, or the fancy term, colleagues, at national conferences, I made my closest at SLU. The kids I graduated with are pretty much all doing different things now: customer service, computers, microbiology, bloodbank, medical school, research, and a PhD. My actual job falls somewhere between management and a generalist. I think SLU made it a point to explain many of our career options, and I don't see that in techs from similar programs. I was offered my first tech job during my clinicals, and when my supervisor transferred hospitals, she thought of me right away for a leadership position, even though I had only been in the field for 6 months.
Ending up in the CLS program wasn't my original intention for college, but it was a great choice. I've been given opportunities I never expected, and I certainly wouldn't be where I am now without my education at SLU.
- Kelci Oman (Cortrecht) MLS 2012
Here I have exciting news to share with my dearest teachers: I passed my M(ASCP) exam and I was certified as M(ASCP)CM by ASCP on this weekend. I'm so excited and wanted to tell you all how much I appreciate your help over the years. Your knowledge, expertise and patience have made the difference on me. I enjoyed studying in your department. I will try my best to apply what I have learned into my future work. Once again, thanks a million to all of you.
- Feng Cao (CLS Microbiology Certificate '12)
Clinical Laboratory Science: A Journey into Science and the World
For many college students picking the most suitable major can be a daunting task. It is a scary thought, not knowing which direction to head in next if we lose our aspirations in the major that we picked. Maybe not all students are thinking about this at the very moment, but sooner or later the thought will come up. With rising costs of tuition and college life in general it would be wise to take the time to seriously research the majors and programs that we can really envision ourselves in. However, there is good news. Medical Laboratory Science is a major that will carry students to success, independent of future plans or the job market, if they are willing to put in the effort. It is an important, evolving, and an exceedingly relevant field.
As a working professional, I can say that I have benefited greatly from my time in the MLS program at Saint Louis University. The program affected me in profound ways, as it showed me the values of the healthcare system, the knowledge that I can make a difference in people’s lives, and that success can be achieved through humble work. The lectures and the labs are engaging, pushing students to understand complex theories and then using that comprehension to solve society’s practical problems. This information helps us understand the what, the how, and the why of medically important diseases and conditions. In a way, it ultimately helps us better understand ourselves by allowing us to understand the way our bodies work.
Besides from interesting theories, the MLS program offers very practical experiences through clinical rotations and the senior year research project. The clinical rotations offer students the chance to be a part of the mechanics that enables hospitals to operate smoothly; it gives them an in-depth understanding of how laboratories function by allowing them to work side-by-side with laboratory professionals. It gave me the opportunity to showcase my knowledge of clinical laboratory science, allowing me to build a rapport with multiple laboratory professionals and their managers. These opportunities led to a job offer (pending my graduation and an opening) at one of the sites I visited. At a time when so many are struggling to find careers after college, I was especially ecstatic about the prospects that lay before me.
In addition to the clinical rotations is the opportunity to perform research. I was not only taught to be a skilled medical laboratory scientist capable of making critical decisions, but I also learned how to be professional in the work place. Allowing students to take on independent research projects put them in the driver’s seat of something they can call their own. This process in the curriculum helps students build confidence and understand the scientific process, truly turning them into scientists. It is through such a process that professionals are built.
I was essentially building my resume in a variety of areas by being in the program. A career in MLS opens many doors to its graduates. MLS builds a foundation for students like no other major can; students are versed in all areas of the lab, from hematology to microbiology, immunohematology to clinical chemistry. When students graduate they are capable of working in most any laboratory of their choosing, as well as, biomedical and pharmaceutical industries. Employers are always eager to engage applicants with such a background because they know MLS graduates are above of the curve when compared to students of similar science and technical background.
As I reflect back on my experiences at Saint Louis University, I continue to be amazed at how well the program equipped and prepared me to take on real life challenges in my professional and personal life. MLS became a journey for me. After graduation, I obtained ASCP certification and secured a job as a medical laboratory scientist in the hematology department at Barnes-Jewish hospital where I had earlier rotated. After working for several years in hematology, I had a desire to explore other parts of the country and try different career options. Because I was a medical laboratory scientist it was easy to make the transition from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. where I landed at job in the core lab at Georgetown University Hospital. Here, I took on additional responsibilities by learning to work in chemistry and microbiology, in addition to helping improve the hematology department from my pervious experiences. As I work I will continue to look at the options that medical laboratory science has open for me such as specializing or branching off into a related field. The opportunities are vast in scope and landscape. It is an exciting time for perspective students to enter the field as it is continually evolving and will advance with the advent of new technologies and scientific discoveries.
- Binh Cao, MLS(ASCP)
"I just wanted to share with you something kind of exciting that happened yesterday! I am currently shadowing in OB/GYN at St. Mary's Hospital, and the physician was looking at a swab underneath a microscope. She started talking about trichomonas vaginalis, and I said, "Can't you occasionally see that fall into urine?" She was so impressed and it made me so happy! It just reaffirmed my decision to be an IMS major; I feel like I am learning so much that my pre-med peers are not."
- Amanda Drapac-Novotny (current IMS Student '14)
"I'm at work right now in the emergency department and we just had a patient come in with a fasting glucose of 604 and she had a history of ketoacidosis and the doctors were so proud that I understood all of that. Likewise, we had another patient who had a creatinine of 5 and the doctor was thinking aloud and wondering what the BUN/creatinine ratio should be in order to verify it wasn't due to dehydration and I told him it was 10-20/1. He was so surprised I knew that! Thank you so much for teaching us!"
- Nidhi Gandhi (IMS Class of 2016)
"I recently got to view a print out of a complete workup of the blood, urine, and electrolyte tests or a patient during my geriatric internship. The patient was normal for everything except a low albumin level. I thought, 'Hey, she would have edema'. Sure enough, when I saw the patient, he/she was receiving wrappings for very swollen legs. I thought that was incredibly cool that I was able to understand the test results because of your class. It really makes shadowing a much deeper experience. Thanks for a great semester."
- Matt Schulte (IMS class of 2016)
"I just finished my first semester of Anesthesiologist Assistant school at Nova Southeastern University yesterday. Overall, the semester went great. It took me awhile to become adjusted to life in Florida but SLU has really prepared me academically. Specifically, graduating with a degree in Investigative and Medical Sciences has provided an OUTSTANDING foundation for the AA curriculum, I believe. Numerous topics I have seen in my first semester at graduate school I was was exposed to from undergraduate MLS courses. Whereas, some of my classmates have only began to see these topics for the first time.
The first semester consisted of 21 credits in which I have a GPA of 3.5. I do not say this to boast about myself. Rather, I believe this is a testament to how well the professors and staff in the BLS department have prepared me for my professional career. Without your rigorous and challenging curriculum, I would not have been prepared to succeed. So please know that I am very thankful for all the hard work and effort that the CLS department, as a whole, gives to its students. From all the behind the scenes paperwork that is conducted on a daily basis, to the challenging yet interesting lesson plans delivered. I am truly happy with my decision to choose SLU. No other University could have prepared me as well for graduate school, and cared so much about me, as a person, along the way.
- Tim Klusman (IMS '12)
"I'm almost done with my first year of dental school. Time is flying by so fast! My classes are going great. The BLS department prepared me very, very well. I made the dean's list first semester with a 3.8 GPA and my microbiology and immunology instructors call me an expert and always ask me about laboratory applications."
- Page Collymore (IMS '10)