In 2008, the five hospital labs of the Northwest Hospital Alliance became clinical affiliates of the Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center School of Medical Laboratory Science. This relationship was developed at the request of the lab managers of the north Idaho labs and in collaboration with the University of Idaho. At that time, the Medical Laboratory Science program increased the number of students from 12 to 14 to allow 2 students to complete half of their clinical rotations at the northern Idaho hospital labs, and the remaining specialty rotations at PSHMC and PAML.The Laboratory Science program director attends the quarterly meetings of the Hospital Alliance lab managers, and together they carefully plan coordinated clinical rotations for the students.
The benefits to the Alliance member labs are the potential to recruit students to become employees, and for lab staff to become involved in teaching which helps them stay up-to-date with laboratory testing theory and best practices, and the subsequent sharing of ideas regarding lab operation. The students enjoy the opportunity to experience a smaller rural laboratory environment with the Critical Access Hospitals and share with their classmates the nuances of practicing in rural communities.
“In dealing with a shortage of laboratory scientists we are able to work collaboratively with the hospitals to increase the number of students being trained,” said Kathy Gemar, Kootenai Health Laboratory Services Director. “This provides a greater pool of potential candidates to work in the various hospital labs.”
The five year program requires a Bachelor’s Degree in a hard science and a 12 month internship. The lab students spend time in the following departments: Hematology, Chemistry, Microbiology, Transfusion Services, Coagulation, and Urine Analysis. The program includes both clinical and theoretical work.
“This program is important to all of our labs,” said Connie Malone, Bonner General Hospital Laboratory Manager. “It produces quality students who then become quality employees. It is so important to introduce these bright young people into the profession.”