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Lab Assistance

In years past, Ohio Northern University employees were the only beneficiaries of the annual free health screenings. This year, however, ONU students are gaining valuable clinical experience thanks to an exciting new partnership with Lima Memorial Hospital.

The first of two voluntary health screenings took place Wednesday, Oct. 26, in McIntosh Center, with approximately 450 campus employees and their spouses taking advantage of free seasonal flu inoculations and comprehensive blood analysis provided by Lima Memorial Health System Laboratories.

ONU senior nursing student  Natalie Nagy administers a
flu shot at the employee health screenings.

A private laboratory administered previous health screenings at ONU, but when an opportunity arose to change providers, Lima Memorial was the logical choice.

“When I came to ONU two years ago and learned that our program and its major supporter were not involved with these health screenings, I started asking some questions,” says Lisa Walden, assistant professor of clinical laboratory science. “Why not take advantage and give our students some hands on experience and give Lima Memorial some business in return?”

The result is that for the first time students from ONU’s nursing and medical laboratory science (MLS) programs staffed the event, gaining valuable experience administering flu shots and providing phlebotomy services, respectively.

While the nursing profession needs no introduction, CLS is more of a mystery for many.

“We are a relatively unknown program,” says Walden. “Now that our students are part of this event, hopefully more people will start to understand who we are and what we do.”
Clinical laboratory scientists, also known as medical technologists, play a pivotal role in the healthcare arena. They are involved in all phases of sample analysis, supervise laboratory operations, and often collaborate in the diagnosis, care and treatment of patients. At ONU, students spend three years in the classroom followed by one year of clinical training and hands-on experience at a local hospital. All of the students drawing blood are senior-level students, with undergraduate CLS students assisting with patient processing and administration.

With so many patients to process, the seven CLS students working the event enjoyed a rarity in clinical experience — volume.

“Many times, when you are in a clinical lab science program, your exposure to blood drawing is somewhat minimal,” says Walden. “Here today, our students probably drew 50 to 60 people each. In other situations it might take someone many trips to a hospital, working two or three hours at a time, to get that number of successful phlebotomies performed.”

Professor Lisa Walden instructs CLS students Kelsea
Redinger and Zeina Mahmoud.

For students, that amount of practice is invaluable.

“Before today I didn’t have a lot of phlebotomy hours, so I wasn’t very confident about it,” says senior CLS major Ben Hedges of Lima, Ohio. “But today I was thrown into the mix and now I’m a lot more confident.”

According to Walden, many students struggle with confidence at first. The employee health screenings provided an ideal setting for many students since they often knew the person they were drawing blood from.

“Sticking a needle into another person’s body is a little bit overwhelming when you are young and you’re learning. So any experience we can give them where we can increase their comfort level, is of high value. And I saw that happening. They were interacting with their professors and faces they recognized and I think it just puts those young inexperienced hands and minds a lot more at ease and gives them a greater chance for success,” she says.

For Hedges, the friendly faces made his job easier.

“Some of them I knew and that was good, because I think they were comfortable having someone they knew draw their blood,” he said. “I know it helped me.”

Blood samples were sent to Lima Memorial hospital for analysis. The complete metabolic profile of each blood sample collected comprises readings from 25 different tests, including LDL and HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, iron, sodium and glucose. Organizers encouraged all participants to review the results with a medical professional, as early detection and treatment of chronic diseases is one of the best ways to prolong and increase quality of life. For those without a personal physician, ONU Healthwise was present to schedule free confidential result consultations.

The next ONU employee health screening session is Saturday, November 19, at McIntosh Center from 6 to 9 a.m.