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BSC students reflect on career choice during National Medical Laboratory Professionals week

Published: Apr 27 2017
BSC students reflect on career choice during National Medical Laboratory Professionals week   - Photo
April 23-29 is National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week and two graduating medical laboratory technician (MLT) students at Bismarck State College share why they chose the field, their experiences in the program and their thoughts on their futures as a medical lab techs.
Anastasia (Asia) Baumann-Vellenga always liked medicine and science, but says she “stumbled upon” her chosen career in medical laboratory technology. She was studying biology at Minnesota State University Moorhead when she learned about BSC’s MLT program. She transferred after her freshman year.
“I fell in love with it. What we do behind the scenes in the hospital, makes a huge difference in healthcare. Eighty percent of healthcare decisions rely upon the lab work. … we’re figuring out what’s wrong, and how to make people better.”
Her current internship at Sanford Health in Bismarck verified her career choice, Baumann-Vellenga says. “My internship solidified that this job was for me. When you are in class learning about what you do, then you get to the workplace and it clicks. I got it. I love it and everyone at the hospital is awesome to work with.”
Some of the medical lab staff at Sanford are also MLT faculty at BSC and this creates a strong bridge between the classroom and the workplace.  “One of the biggest benefits I think is that we not only have those instructors in class, when we do internships we go to Sanford and work with them in the lab. They know what we need educationally. The program is awesome.”
Baumann-Vellenga had no trouble finding a job. She starts at Sanford in Fargo on June 12. She’s excited about her educational and professional future. She intends to go on to UND after working for a while to get her four-year degree. All of her credits and classes will transfer easily.
“Nice thing about working in the lab is that there’s always a way to keep moving up – I can be a PA [physician’s assistant] or a pathologist. That’s completely possible with this.”

Amanda Sagsveen, Sanford Health Director of Laboratory Operations in Bismarck, says her organization will “hire as many of [BSC's] graduates as we can get.”
She describes the field as one where demand is great and opportunities are expanding.
“In order to provide the best possible care, you need the lab. [Lab techs] affect everyone else’s ability to do their job and give the best possible care to patients. If we do our job well, they do their job well.”
Sagsveen says the lab is a great outlet for those interested in the medical field but not in direct patient care “There’s a huge variety of work within the lab itself. Within the laboratory you can explore microbiology, blood bank, chemistry, hematology and more.”
Sasha Krapp first heard about the profession from a coworker.  “I had no idea what it was. A coworker told me what it entailed – cultures, transfusing units.”
She was intrigued.  She was looking for something that would allow her to leverage her bachelor’s degree in biology, but that didn’t involve patient care. “I wanted to feel like I was making a difference, and I didn’t want the caregiver aspect of medicine. I liked the behind the scenes action.”
Krapp is completing her degree in May. She had no trouble finding a job or “behind-the-scenes action.”
She’s currently training for her new role at the Jamestown Regional Medical Center. Working at this critical access hospital with a smaller lab gives her the opportunity to work in all departments, performing everything from basic lab tasks to overseeing blood transfusions. 
Through the medical lab tech program at BSC, Krapp and her classmates were taught by professionals in the lab who provided insights proving valuable now as she transitions into her career.
“Our teachers were the best. [They] work directly in the setting so they can give us up-to-date information. They can bring us samples we typically wouldn’t see. We had opportunities others don’t have.”
Moving forward, Krapp hopes to specialize, or maybe get medical laboratory scientist (MLS) certification and become a lab manager. For now she’s excited to do the work of a medical lab tech. “It’s rewarding to make a difference to patients.”

Learn more about the BSC Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) program.