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Texas State science program receives $25,000 grant to create endowed scholarship

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Texas State’s Clinical Laboratory Science program was recently selected to receive a $25,000 grant for the creation of an endowed scholarship for CLS majors to assist with program costs.

Every year, Cardinal Health, a global healthcare services and products company located in nearly 60 countries, recognizes a person for significant contributions to the field of clinical laboratory science. This year’s recipient was Jennifer Dawson for her dedicated work in the field, in terms of process, patient care and awareness.

As part of the award, Dawson was allowed to designate an institution for an educational grant to help advance CLS studies of her choice. Although she has no direct ties to Texas State as an alum, she selected the university for the grant.

“As a passionate advocate of the laboratory and its role in providing quality care and the highest level of patient safety, I’m humbled and honored to be recognized with this prestigious laboratory award,” Dawson stated in a news release. “I hope this spreads awareness of the impactful work being done by medical laboratory professionals and inspires others to pursue a career in this rewarding field.”

Rodney Rohde, CLS program chair and 2015 awardee, explained Dawson’s connection to the university originated from experience working with recent graduates and clinical students at a laboratory in Austin.

“It turns out she was hiring our graduates,” Rohde said. “As a result, she understood the quality of our students and programs.”

Rohde has kept in contact with Dawson since the announcement of the grant and says they are planning to combine the funds to make a scholarship for CLS students.

The proposed name for the scholarship fund is the Cardinal Health Clinical Laboratory Science Scholarship honoring Dr. Rodney E. Rohde and Jennifer Dawson.

The profession of clinical laboratory science, also referred to as medical laboratory science, is often unnoticed and consists of healthcare professionals who conduct diagnostic analyses in laboratory settings (hospitals, reference labs, public health, industrial labs, etc.).

“Medical laboratory science involves diagnostic laboratory testing from A to Z,” Rohde said. “These professionals do everything from providing cancer testing results to predicting the correct antibiotic to prescribe, to typing the correct blood for surgery. MLS professionals provide answers to life-and-death decisions every day.”

The CLS program at Texas State is a competitive program that accepts 20 students each year and receives more than 50 applications.

The first two years of the program consist of general education and science prerequisites pre-CLS students must complete in order to apply for full admission to the program.

Once admitted into the program, students’ complete rigorous coursework and a minimum of five clinical rotations at hospital laboratories around Texas.

Lindsey Estetter, Texas State alumna, believes her experience as a CLS student gave her practical experience in a field, which increased her job prospects once she graduated.

“The CLS program provided me with the clinical side of lab work that had been missing from my science background,” Estetter said. “It has made me more rounded and gave me a competitive edge compared to other applicants with a Master of Science.”

Since she graduated in 2014, Estetter has worked for the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta where she helped during the Chikungunya outbreak in 2014-15 and the Zika outbreak in 2015.

“Coming into my job I understood the regulations on patient testing and was also more aware of the different testing methods and organisms seen in human infections, an education often not obtained by earning a traditional science degree,” Estetter said. “I believe the CLS program gave me the edge I needed to get to my dream job at the CDC as soon after graduation as I did.”

If a timely agreement can be made between all the parties involved in the scholarship fund, Rohde said students can start applying during the 2017-18 academic school year.