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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Help for Mentors

I created this blog to help our clinical mentors find help and support when hosting one of our online students in Weber State University's Medical Laboratory Sciences Program. Please feel free to post any questions you may have and I'll try my best to answer them. It is my hope that we can create an interactive community that can provide the resources and support required to produce excellent future laboratorians, as well as provide some guidance on possible activities or advise on dealing with student issues. 
Play-Doh Poikiolocytes


  1. How structured does the student internship experience need to be? Is there a set number of tests that they need to be exposed to?

  2. If I am not comfortable signing off a student for a particular lab competency, can I require the student to spend additional time or perhaps repeat the process for that competency a few more times?

  3. What if my facility does not perform something that is listed on the competency checklist?

  4. How many hours should students be spending in the lab this semester?
    Kathy Ficklenuss

  5. Hi Pat,
    The process can be as structured as the mentor and facility needs it to be. Since each clinical site, mentor and student is different, the experience can be tailored to the needs of those involved. Basically, what we are striving to achieve is a well-trained home grown professional; a student that is comfortable and confident in your lab's procedures at the entry level.
    If you are dealing with normal differentials, one student may be deemed competent after the performance of 20 diffs, while another student may require more time and repetition.
    The ultimate end point at the end of the semester is that your student should be able to handle the workload in your department with minimal supervision.
    Great question....let me know if you have more.

  6. Hi Cindi,
    Another great question. It is up to the mentor to decide if the student meets the competency requirements on the checklist. The mentor should not sign a student off until the competency is meet. Different levels of competency are allowed, particularly if a specific assay is not performed at your facility.
    The mentor is also entitled to not sign off on a student's checklist if they believe the student does not possess the required skill or knowledge. The student must be signed off on the competency checklist in order to pass the course.
    Hope this helps,

  7. Hi JBean,
    We understand that all hematology departments will not offer all available testing and that something listed on the checklist may not be performed in your laboratory. In this case, either an N/A may be entered into that field or a Level 1 achievement: (Discussed: process was discussed, principle explained, student acknowledges an understanding of the process.principle).
    A couple of N/A's (or lower level of achievement)are acceptable if they are due to the nature of the laboratory that does not allow access to the equipment/test method.
    Let me know if you have more questions,

  8. Hi Kathy,
    The minimum time a student must spend in the lab is based on the number of credit hours in a MLS course and the number of weeks in a normal semester. For instance, MLS 1123 (Principle of Hematology and Hemostasis) is a 5 credit hour course and a normal semester has 16 weeks. The formula becomes: 5 x 16 = 80 hours total or 5 hours per week on average.
    Since summer is a shorter semester (the total remains the same at 80) however more hours per week would need to be performed to meet the requirement. Keep in mind that 80 hours is the minimum requirement and can be increased if the student needs more time in an area to be deemed competent at an entry level.
    Again, a reminder that the student's clinical experience should reflect 'off the clock' time.
    Thanks for the wonderful question,