Accepted into MSc CLS program from Research Background ... what are the positives?

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Bio/CLS in Mount Sinai, New York

22 months ago

I current work as an associate biologist in the field of Radiobiology. My work is primarily working with human tissues. I am an author on several publications for the cytogentic/microscopy work that I do in our lab. U have been wanting to get into the clinical lab field and recently got accepted to a MSc CLS program (paid for by my current company - very lucky). I was extremely excited about the prospects of my future ... then I got on this site. Am I really going to have a hard time finding employment after I graduate? I was not under that impression. Also, as far as experience goes, my research is clinical based (cancer research) will this count for experience? Also, what are the pluses of working in the field as a CLS? Thanks for any advice.

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Andy_UTMB in Galveston, Texas

22 months ago

First, it is highly unlikely you will have trouble finding employment. There are many more people retiring from the CLS workforce than are graduating from programs. Is your company going to employ you after you graduate? Just curious why they would pay for your education if you're just going to work for someone else :P

Working as a CLS is much different than doing research. Your experience in a research lab will not count for too much. In a hospital lab, you'll be getting tons of specimens over the course of a day that you will need to process, test and report the results. To ensure the results are reliable, you'll need to to run QC on all the equipment. In smaller labs you will probably rotate among the divisions (hematology, microbiology, chemistry and blood bank) but in larger labs you will stick to just one of these. All have their pro's and con's. Also, in larger labs the work will feel more like an assembly line because high volumes of specimens demand it to be so.

For example: doc orders you to determine if there are foreign organisms in CSF. One tech will process the specimen (streak the agar plates, make a cytofuge slide); another will gram stain the slide, read the slide and report if there are gram positive or gram negative organisms present; someone else will look at the plates after a day and completely identify the organism. It would be inefficient if this work was all done by one person.

There is still a lot of room for intellectual exercise, but for the most part you are restricted by the standard operating procedures of your lab.

Since you seem to have experience with tissues, you might look into histotechnology or cytogenetics as well as CLS.

Best of luck!

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