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MOUNT VERNON — Medical Laboratory Technicians are in great demand nationwide.

According to the list 100 Best Jobs in 2017 in U.S. News and World Report, MLT ranked 59 with a projected 29,000 jobs added this year. In 2016, more than 900 MLT and medical technologist positions were open in the state of Illinois and only 200 students graduated from MT or MLT programs in the state.

To help meet this growing need, SSM Health has begun an MLT program at SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital in Mount Vernon and SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Centralia.

“Our hospitals employ MLTs and in recent years have found it increasingly challenging to find certified individuals. This program will help us and our region fill this need while also providing excellent career opportunities,” Brenda Alexander, System Vice President of Human Resources at SSM Health in Illinois, said in a news release.

Medical laboratory technicians work under the supervision of medical laboratory scientists, performing most of the common laboratory tests in a medical laboratory. Those test results help doctors determine the right treatments for patients — and occasionally lead to extraordinary breakthroughs.

SSM Health’s MLT Program, led by Anh Strow, MPH, MLS, is now seeking accreditation through National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS). The first class of MLT students will begin August 2018 with graduation scheduled for June 2019.

Upon successful completion of the MLT program, students from the affiliating colleges will be awarded an Associate in Applied Science degree.

Individuals who already hold an associate's or bachelor's degree that includes all prerequisites may apply directly to the program. Directly applying students will pay $5,000 for tuition, while those who attend through an affiliated college will pay tuition at the college's rates.

The program will begin with six students and the laboratory setting will accommodate three students at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital and three at SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital. Graduates of the MLT program will be certified as a medical laboratory technician upon passing the National Board of Certification Exam administered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

More information about applying to the MLT Program will be available early in 2018.

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