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June 16, 2022

SVSU honors medical laboratory science students in White Coat Ceremony

Saginaw Valley State University recognized graduating students in the medical laboratory science program in a White Coat Ceremony Friday, June 10 at 6 p.m. in SVSU’s Gilbertson Hall. 

The students pledged to serve others as they recited an oath to patient care and accepted the white coat as a symbol of their professional status. It is a rite of passage familiar to many in the healthcare field. 

“This ceremony bestows students with a pin and lab coat to honor their dedication and perseverance through this intense program and to signify the completion of their internship and degree. The students are then eligible to take the national board of certification examination to become certified medical laboratory scientists,” said Margot Alvey, SVSU assistant professor of medical laboratory science. 

The following medical laboratory science students were recognized during the ceremony: 

  • Tracey Bates, Ithaca 
  • Paige Brownlie, Saginaw 
  • Ashley Distelrath, East China 
  • Madison Gaudet, Flushing 
  • Julie Gerow, Saginaw 
  • Madelyn Graves, Gladwin 
  • Stephanie Hellwig, Saginaw 
  • Mary Johnson, Midland 
  • Seth King, West Branch 
  • Grace Likins, St. Clair Shores 
  • Rachel Lokajtys, Bay City 

The students will officially graduate at the end of the summer semester in August. Alvey said they will fill a shortage the medical laboratory field is currently experiencing, as medical laboratories, like other critical healthcare departments, are at critically low staffing levels both locally and nationally due to higher-than-normal retirement rates, which was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Currently, local hospitals are desperate for us to send them students in hopes of them staying on as employees. We actually have far more open spots to send students than we have students. This is unheard of in the history of the program. The vacancies are expected to keep expanding, upwards to 13%, over the next five years, according to a recent survey from the American Society for Clinical Pathology.” 

SVSU graduates are highly regarded; clinical coordinators from affiliate hospitals frequently comment on how prepared SVSU students are. 

“Our program is comprehensive and rigorous,” Alvey said, “which it should be, in order to cultivate competent, quality medical laboratory scientists who have the integrity, dedication, compassion, technical skills, and critical-thinking capacity necessary to provide quality patient results. 

“All of the students completing the medical laboratory science program have demonstrated all of these characteristics and more and they have done it during a pandemic. They grew stronger and persevered; most have job offers already and all will be a huge asset to the medical laboratories they choose to work at. I could not be prouder of their perseverance and dedication.” 

After their professional courses have been completed successfully, the students are placed at a clinical affiliate site — typically a local hospital — for a 22-week clinical fieldwork experience, rotating between departments including chemistry, hematology, coagulation, urinalysis, blood bang and transfusion medicine, microbiology, serology, immunology and pre-analytical within the clinical laboratory. 

“Most people, even health care workers, are not aware of the educational or technical training required for us to aid in diagnosing blood cancers, sepsis, sexually transmitted infections, neonatal jaundice and more,” Alvey said. “In reality, becoming a medical laboratory scientist requires a bachelor's degree in medical laboratory science or a related field, passing a national certification exam, and completing a six-month internship.”  

The White Coat Ceremony was started in 1993 at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons by Arnold P. Gold, M.D., who was a professor and pediatric neurologist. Dr. Gold, a passionate advocate for humanistic healthcare, believed that the oath taken by new physicians at the end of medical school came too late. Through the nonprofit organization that he and his wife, Dr. Sandra Gold, started, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation has expanded the White Coat Ceremony around the globe.