Students shut out of vital lab course

By Lisa Taylor

Some medical technology students will leave NIU without an on-campus lab course, while budget and construction details of a new lab still are being discussed.

The lab course is essential to train the students for pre-internship experience, said Sharon Miller, coordinator of the medical technology program. There are approximately 150 declared medical technology majors in the Allied Health Department of the College of Professional Studies.

Until Spring 1986, students used a lab they shared with the Biology Department located in Montgomery Hall. The med-tech lab was ousted that semester because the Biology Department needed more space.

To compensate for the lack of a lab, lab courses are being offered, but with extensive lecture explanations instead of actual experience.

“Introduction to Clinical Lab Sciences,” SAHP 111, was one in a sequence of lab courses offered last semester as a lecture class—one necessary to prepare students for a required one-year internship at a hospital, Miller said.

With the lab, students learned basic skills such as drawing blood and performing simple tests before they entered the hospital internship, she said.

“The comments of the teachers and the comments of the students are that they feel frustrated,” she said. “You need to have the direct, hands-on experience.”

An eight-hour workshop on a few Saturdays a month will begin in early March at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Rockford to provide students with an opportunity to get the hands-on experience they need before their internship. The internship is required for graduation. This workshop will “give them a taste of the practical side,” Miller said, but “this is not an adequate substitute for a lab on campus.”

A new site on campus is targeted for the basement of DuSable Hall, but the architects, Richard L. Johnson Associates of Rockford, and members from the College of Professional Studies have yet to decide on a floor plan, said Eddie Williams, vice president for administrative affairs.

A faculty office, classroom and research area will be remodeled into a lab and classroom—with some difficulty, Miller said. “It’s a real challenge; it’s expensive, and requires some creativity because that building never was envisioned as having a lab,” she said.

The architects estimate the project will cost between $350,000 and $400,000, but there will not be a definite figure until bids are taken, Williams said.