Medical Laboratory Professionals Week: A conversation with Sue Beck

As part of Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, we sat down with Division of Clinical Laboratory Science Director Sue Beck to learn what's ahead for the profession.

What hallmarks of the UNC Clinical Laboratory Science program make it among the best?
The people involved in the CLS and Molecular Diagnostic Science programs make them among the best, if not the best in the country. The Division of Clinical Laboratory Science just had an accreditation site visit for both the MS of Clinical Laboratory Science and Molecular Diagnostic Science track and the BS in Clinical Laboratory Science. The site visitors were very impressed with the faculty, students, graduates, and clinical instructors in both programs. They praised the talent and dedication of the faculty and the strong support from the alumni of the program. They noted that the students were very well prepared, very proud of their accomplishments and were the preferred applicants by employers.

Why is clinical laboratory science important? 
It has been stated that 70 percent of medical decisions are based on the results of laboratory tests. I don’t know that there are any studies that have validated that statement, but it is very true having accurate laboratory test results plays an essential role in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. For example, if someone has leukemia, knowing exactly which type of leukemia the individual has will drive the treatment decisions. Clinical laboratory professionals are the health care professionals who provide that information.  

How do you think clinical laboratory science will change/improve in the future?
The number of laboratory tests that can be performed is growing tremendously.  It is important, therefore, for clinical laboratory professionals to provide not only the test results but the information needed to choose the right laboratory tests. So, in the future, I think the consultative role of the clinical laboratory scientist will become even more important.  

Why is it important for students to consider pursuing clinical laboratory science as a major?
Clinical laboratory science is a great choice for students who like science and want to use their interest in science to help others. The work that we do is so important and clinical laboratory professionals know that every day, they are making a difference in the lives of patients. Now is a good time to enter the clinical laboratory profession because there is a shortage of laboratory professions in North Carolina and in the nation. Most of our graduates have jobs lined up before graduation. The CLS program also provides a solid foundation for professional growth. I encourage interested students to look at the alumni section of our website to see some examples of our graduates’ exciting careers.