OGDEN, Utah – The Freeport Health Network (FHN) of Rockford, Ill., wasn’t sure where to train future medical lab technicians after the local community college closed last year.
Faced with the challenge of maintaining a work force of 1,500 health care professionals who serve the rural communities of northwest Illinois, FHN officials began to look outside the region for a new training program. The search led them to Weber State University’s online program in clinical laboratory sciences.
“Weber State’s program stood out because of the rigorous competencies required,” said Cheryl Rife, learning facilitator for Freeport Health Network’s Education Services department. FHN officials also were impressed by the program’s demonstrated success in offering four-year degrees online, she said.
Last week, FHN and WSU’s Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences announced a new cooperative arrangement between the two institutions. Initially, Illinois Workforce Development will fund the partnership, providing for five economically disadvantaged or dislocated adult students to participate in a totally online degree program in the clinical/medical laboratory sciences. FHN will conduct a search to select the five students to be enrolled in the program.
“Online courses will allow the students to be employed while they are training to become certified in their chosen profession,” said Yasmen Simonian, professor and chair of clinical laboratory sciences at WSU.
WSU’s clinical laboratory sciences program is the only one in the nation that offers associate’s and bachelor’s degrees completely online, including lab practicum. Clinical laboratory science graduates become health care technicians providing information vital to the diagnosis and prevention of disease, the management of patient therapy, and maintenance of health. WSU’s CLS program has been certified by the State of Illinois to offer this training to qualified students. To date, 25 WSU online students have received their associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in clinical laboratory sciences.