Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Allied Health Professions

Allied Health Professions

For those of you who majored in biological or chemical sciences and for some reasons did not want to pursue a degree in medicine or dentistry, I do think that you will enjoy this post.  Allied health professions offer some great alternatives. You should therefore not limit yourself. 

What are allied health professions?

Allied health professions are health care professions. Without them, health care delivery would be quite dysfunctional. Allied health professionals are the ones who analyze the specimens that doctors send to the laboratory. They are also involved in direct patient care (respiratory therapist/perfusionist)

Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) is the focus of this post.

Clinical Laboratory also known as Medical Technology (MT) or Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) is a promising allied health profession.   Many students don’t think much or simply don’t know about these allied health professions.

Who is a Clinical Laboratory Scientist?

A clinical laboratory scientist is a health care professional who performs microscopic, immunologic, chemical, hematological analysis on body fluids and other types of specimens. 

Where do they work?

They are employed in hospitals (the majority), doctor’s offices and biotechnology laboratories.


According to the United States bureau of labor and statistics, CLS/MT/MLS who work in hospitals earn an average annual salary of $ 59,000. The top 10% can earn more than $68,000 annually.  

Degree Duration

Students are graduated with a bachelor’s degree (4 years).  Students spend the first 3 years mostly in the classroom.  The 4th year is spent in a hospital laboratory setting where students acquire the skills that will make them marketable to employers.  Once students complete their four-year degree, they become eligible to sit for licensure.  What is great about MT/CLS/MLS Bachelor’s degree is that students do take almost the same pre-requisites that are required for medical school admission.  As you can see, the opportunities are quite immeasurable for those students who later might decide to pursue a graduate study in medicine or dentistry.

For those of you who already have a degree in the biological or chemical sciences, please do not sweat.  If you wish to become a licensed CLS/MT/MLS, the American Society of Clinical Pathology  (ASCP) has put together a track that will prepare you to become eligible to sit for the licensing exam. What is most fascinating is that this certificate program lasts just one year.  You will spend most of that year in the laboratory.  For more information, you can visit the ASCP at the following link: ASCP. 

Things You Should Consider When Choosing a Program:

Make sure the program is approved by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).  For more info, please visit the NAACLS at the following link: NAACLS.
For those of you with a master’s degree in a health related field, you need to pay careful attention to the requirements established by the ASCP for licensure.

I hope you enjoy this post.
Please share it with your friends.

Wedlin Sainval, M.S.M.S.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Err on the Side of Caution

No single major will guarantee you admission into medical school. Regardless of your major, a strong foundation in the sciences is a must.

Most of you aspiring doctors believe that majoring in biological sciences give you an advantage over non-biological sciences students.  For those of you who are currently pursuing a biology or biomedical science degree, you may feel scared at this moment. Please, don’t be! I am not saying that you should give up on biology or biomedical science concentration.  The goal of this post is however to provide you with information that you can use to ultimately take control of your career. Even if you were in your last year as a biology or biomedical sciences major, you will find this post very beneficial.   

I believe that when choosing a degree, students should think about the “quality of life” they wish to have right after obtaining their four-year of college.  Even if you plan on going to medical school, I do think that pursuing a degree, which offer a path to licensure is an outstanding decision because in case you cannot go to graduate school right away, your license will land you in a good paying job right after those four years.  Please understand that I mention “licensure” because I am referring to good paying job right after your 4 years. If you want to follow that path and still want to go to medical school, you must complete all of your medical school pre-requisites, have good grades, score competitively in the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and have some exposure to patient care.

Why thou shall not major in biology or biomedical sciences?

A simple answer would be because I want you to “err on the side of caution”.
Enough to say, in case you choose to postpone your graduate studies, you will not find your self struggling to find a job as a biologist or biomedical scientists.

For those of you who are thinking about majoring in biology, please pay close attention to this post.  You can also talk to other students who have majored in biology so that you can learn about their undergraduate experience. There are many reasons for which you should rethink your decision to major in the biological sciences. First, if you are pre-med, the odds are against you (click the AAMC link below). Second, if you do not get into medical school right away, you will find yourself in a tough situation once the 6 months grace period for your undergraduate loans expires. It will also be very difficult for you to work at a research or hospital laboratory just because you do not have the hands-on training.

Back in the days, a degree in biology seemed to have been common and appropriate for those wanted to pursue a degree in medicine.  Today, that’s no longer the case.  According to the AAMC, the majority of biological sciences students who apply to medical schools do not get in. Medical school admission officers are not looking for a bunch of biology students to fill up their limited spots. They are however looking for applicants who are well-rounded with strong academic background and unique personalities. I do think that is why in 2011, of the 22,863 biological sciences students who applied to medical school only 9,794 actually matriculated.  They are a few considerations to make with regards to that data since a negligible number students who actually were accepted to medical school had to, for some reasons, postpone their matriculation. As a result, I do think that the number of accepted students was slightly higher but still remained insignificant. Picture yourself as an admission officer! Now, imagine how boring it would be for you to review thousands of medical school applications where 98% of the applicants have a Bachelor’s of Science (B.S.) degree in the biological sciences! I hope you are thinking about that. 

Being different is all that matters nowadays.  You must have certain qualities that will distinguish you from the rest of the applicants.  According to the most recent statistics, a large number of non-science students are getting admission to medical school. In 2011, the AAMC revealed that the ratio of non-science students who matriculated (not the number of accepted students) to U.S. medical school was higher than that of biological sciences students.  For instance, a student who majored in the humanities, mathematics or statistics was roughly 8% more likely to get admitted to medical school than a biological science student. Of course, there are many other qualities that medical schools are looking for in a prospective applicant.  For instance, nothing can replace your academic performance and extracurricular activities. If you are a non-science major, you must show that you can perform well in both your non-science and science courses.

For those of you who do choose to major in biology, in a future post, I will share with you how you can broaden your academic background so that you can become attractive to biotech companies or research laboratories.  

I hope you have enjoyed this post.

Wedlin Sainval, M.S.M.S.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Be In Control While Paying Attention To Your Advisor.

Be In Control While Paying Attention To Your Advisor

Going to college is perhaps the most important and smartest decision that you will ever make in a your life. Therefore, you have to be in control.  Please do not make the mistake of letting an academic advisor choose you a major or concentration.  You need to be proactive.  What you need to do before meeting with an advisor is to research a career that you are interested in.  It is better to spend ample of time learning about your field of interest than finding during your junior year that you have made the wrong choice. They are plenty of resources out there for you.  You just have to make great use of them.

What you should do before seeing an academic advisor:

-Research the field that you are interested in.
-Talk to professionals who practice in that field.
-Prepare your questions ahead of time.

Questions to ask your academic advisor during the initial meeting:

-Number of students choosing that major.
-What career path are those students pursuing?
-How many spots are, nationally, available for students who decide to pursue a masters or a doctorate degree?
-How many students do actually apply to graduate school?
-How many students do get in to graduate schools?
-How easy is it for you to register for courses?
-Have students in the college you represent ever struggled to register for courses?
-Are there any internship opportunities for your major?
-Does the college match or pair students with internship programs?
-Will you be responsible to set up your own internship?
-How far will you have to travel to go to those internships?
-How many internship spots are available for students in your major?
-How many students do take advantage of those internship opportunities?
-The quality of life of students who, for certain foreseen or unforeseen reasons, don’t go to graduate schools right away?
-The job outlook right after you earn you bachelor’s degree?

As you choose a major, you have to keep in mind that you will have 6 months of grace period before starting to make payments toward your loans.  Unless you pursue another undergraduate or graduate degree, you will need to start repaying your loans after those 6 months.  In case a foreseen or unforeseen event occurs in your life, which will prevent you from pursing another degree, the loan company would not care much. You also cannot go back to the school to ask for a rebate check. You will basically be in your own. 

So, take time to research your field of interest.  Keep in mind that, as you choose a major, you have to think about the quality of life you want to have after you obtain that 4-year degree.  While certain concentrations of a bachelor’s degree will lead to a good paying job right after 4 years, others won’t.  There is no need to rush yourself and do everything that an academic advisor asks you to do.  You should consider academic advisors as salesmen and saleswomen who must seal the deal.  The same way that you would research a product before buying it, the same way you should devote ample of times to research your major. For, you would not want to see yourself struggling to make ends meet after investing four precious years of your life. 

We welcome and appreciate your comments.

Wedlin Sainval, M.S.M.S.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday America

Happy Birthday to the LAND OF OPPORTUNITIES! The land where dreams are much closer to realities than they are to dreams.

You, young people (yellow, white, black, indigo, green and etc) out there, stop acting stupid! Man up to resist drugs and violence! Embrace one of the many great careers out there so that you can take care of your family and give back to society. You don't belong in prison!

Seize those opportunities as if the United States was about to run out of opportunities. As you know, the United States will never run out of opportunities because those who are already living their dreams are the ones creating those opportunities. Those opportunities are right behind those class doors. You have the key to open those doors since you took your first breath.  Even those who weren't born in this country have their own set of keys.  Now, it is time to grab that key and open those damn doors. Some of us would have a combination lock without instruction. For some, it is a simple key.  Just know that there are times you have to come up with your own solution. Sometimes it might involve a trial and error phase. There are times you just have to ask for help, as one would call locksmith/AAA or a police officer when they are locked out of a home or a car. 

Happy to reside on that LAND!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Corrupted University System

Do We Need All These Newly Invented Academic Majors?

Instead of inventing a bunch of new NONSENSE majors, the university system should have invested in opening more labs on campus for students to get hands-on training or connect students with internship positions in the health science or bio-technology industry.

So, you are telling me that there is that much difference between a BIOLOGY and BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES or a Biochemistry major and a simple chemistry major????

The university system really knows how to fool us students. And guess what? We are victims of a solid marketing campaign.

You cannot tell me that a student with a B.S. degree in biology or biomedical sciences graduate cannot extract ribonucleic acids on his first day, let say, at a research facility or a job. I do think that those basic skills are fundamental. Just 2 semester of biology where students only meet for once or twice a week for a couple of hours are SIMPLY NOT ENOUGH. Well, no one seems to care because that trend continues.

No wonder why bio-technology companies are outsourcing jobs to European and Asian market. According to some articles that I have read, companies often outsource for two main reasons: cost reduction and the need to have access to a technical and expert workforce.  In this post, I am addressing to the "lack of technical and expert" workforce. I am not interested in the politics of cost reduction part. That’s left to congress!

Why can't students register for courses that they need for their degree?
Why do students have to beg their friends to reserving them a sit for a course just so that they can graduate on time?
Does it really have to be this way?
I find myself asking why, why and why no one wants to change this trend. The United States is the land of opportunities. Those opportunities are now being shipped abroad just because our educational system has yet to get its act together.

If you cannot guarantee a student these basic services, just be honest to them. Have the gut to tell them that "WE JUST NEED YOUR TUITION AND FEE" money.

Wedlin Sainval, M.S.M.S.

Biology Degree, Premed and False Promise!!!

I do think that majoring in biology provides a great return on investment for the university system. I do think our advisors misled us quite a bit. Let say that you are premed. You can still major in medical technology, nursing or something else, take all of your prerequisites and still become a great medical school candidate. Now, let say that due to some circumstances, you have to take a couple of years off, your friend who majored in nursing or medical technology would be making good money working at a hospital or a lab, respectively, while you, who majored in just biology, finding yourself struggling to even land an entry level position.

Here is how it is now.

Student: advisor, I need to go to medical school.

Academic Advisor: Well, the most popular degree now is biology or biomedical sciences.

Student: OK. Should I major in biology then?

Advisor: You should.

Student: Ok. I will. What classes will I need to take.

Advisor: I will prepare you a degree map.


Student: advisor, I want to pursue a career in medicine.

Honest Advisor: You know something, most students do major in biology. The problem is that sometimes, some students do not go right away to medical school. They decide to take a couple of years off. Now, if this student want to work as a biologist, it would be very difficult because they do not have enough hands-on experience. We have others alternatives for you. We have degree X (medical technology or nursing, for instance), which you can also choose while still fulfilling your premed per-requisites. These programs lead to licensure, which looks very good when you want to take some times off but work in a health science job. And, the starting salary is great too.

But, the reality is you would probably the last person that this "honest/quality advisor" would advise because the department chair would fire him or her because she could not meet her department recruitment quotas.

Enough of this biology nonsense MARKETING TOOL. Don't become part of STATISTICS. Folks, be smart about your career. Take responsibility of your own destiny. Nowadays, universities are inventing all kinds of degrees. No degree is promising you acceptance to graduate school. If you are going to spend money in a degree, please ask yourself, what if you decide to change your career path? What if you want to work right after graduating in job that relates to your four-year degree? How is the job market for your 4-year degree? If you struggle to answer those questions, you need to consider a degree that leads to a license or certification because employers are not looking for diploma, they need licensed and experienced professionals.

Don't become a victim of the MARKETING strategy that the university system is using. You will find yourself struggling to repay massive student loans while working a low paying job that can barely be used to pay your car insurance.

My advice is that when you go to see your advisor for the first time, don't just walk there without having a pile of questions to ask. Be smart about your questions. Take control of your destiny. PLEASE AND PLEASE do not let your advisor choose your career. You should have already been researching your degree way long before you show up at your advisor's door. One more think, please DO NOT listen to all the crap they have to say about the most popular degree. You need to focus on what is best for you. Do you want to work at McDonalds after 4 years of biology/biomedical sciences or do you want to work in a hospital or a lab or a research facility with a good paying salary?????

This is my advice to all of you out there entering the corrupted university system that is out there.

Wedlin Sainval, M.S.M.S