My primary focus as a faculty member is instruction to Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) students. Teaching in the CLS program has allowed me to impart knowledge that will help prepare students to become competent clinical or medical laboratory professionals in the 21st century. There are basic and complex clinical principles and skills that need to be understood and developed in order to enter the workforce as part of a health care team. The field of clinical laboratory science is challenging, exciting, rewarding, ever changing, and very important; and I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm, my years of experience, and content knowledge in the field. My goal is not only to give students the theoretical background for common laboratory procedures and disease states they relate to, but also to help relate this information to actual clinical experiences (practical) to tie their didactic knowledge to relevant experiences and demonstrate the importance of the profession. For me to execute this goal, I have four main objectives as a clinical laboratory science educator that I use to help me promote my teaching philosophy.
Objective 1: Students should understand the relevance of theoretical concepts as they learn. By relating these concepts to real life case scenarios, it makes it easier for students to understand, retain, and apply the information.
Objective 2: I encourage critical thinking and application of competency skills. I model and require that laboratory procedures must be properly performed without errors. It is important to know and recognize complications that can arise that will affect the test results, and how to resolve or troubleshoot those occurrences. In my hematology courses, I have instituted many critical thinking sessions by incorporating real-life case studies. Students are given a disorder and must identify the disorder through the clinical presentation of real-life patient experiences. This teaching approach helps students synthesize the knowledge learned in other courses and apply it to the case at hand.
Objective 3: Students should be actively engaged in the learning process. I have taken courses at the Center for Teaching and Learning and have utilized the active learning techniques and incorporated these techniques into the classroom. For example, I have included group discussions in my lecture schedule to help facilitate learning from their peers. During these group discussions, students work with each other on an in-class project. Students are then required to present their findings to their classmates; allowing other students to ask questions and respond to their questions. I find students learn and retain the material more effectively with these activities. Comments I have received from student evaluations support this teaching strategy.
Objective 4: Faculty should model professionalism for students. Through modeling professionalism, students are taught the importance of integrity, responsibility, and accountability while in my classes, the program, and hopefully will carry this trait into the profession. They are encouraged to demonstrate these qualities during laboratory experiences and clinical rotations. They are encouraged to become members of their professional organizations, and to interact with students in other clinical laboratory programs.
I love teaching and have developed a strong interest in student learning outcomes. Because of this strong interest, I have taken every opportunity to integrate different learning tools and methodologies into my teaching. It is my hope that by doing this, I will be able to help facilitate student learning processes in the CLS program more effectively. Students’ ability to learn and understand takes place in many ways, (Visual, Verbal, Auditory, Kinesthetic etc.) and I value the importance of reaching students on their learning levels. Currently, I view my role in the classroom as two-fold. First, students need to be taught the information set forth in the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) known as the ‘Body of Knowledge’. Second, students need to become proficient in the use and application of basic laboratory technology techniques such that they can readily be trained as Clinical Laboratory Scientists. This field contains an enormous amount of information and require autonomous synthesis of this information and concepts. A critical part of my job is to distill these skills and ensure success in every student. Therefore, my didactic courses are designed such that students gain the knowledge needed to pass the board exams. While within the laboratory courses I include current and relevant laboratory exercises to match clinical laboratory testing that is occurring in today’s clinical world. The hands-on learning approach corresponding to lecture material provides another means by which to conceptually cement fundamental ideas of each subject.
In summary, looking back on the last four years at UAB, I feel very fortunate to be teaching in this professional program. Most students are very motivated, very bright and exhibit a great attitude, making my job enjoyable and very fulfilling.