Celebrating Lab Week 2021: Derek Nelson’s Success Story

Derek Nelson

As part of Lab Week 2021, we are sharing interviews of Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) graduates! Today, we are hearing from Derek Nelson who is employed as a Pathologists’ Assistant at Licking Memorial Health Systems.

How would you describe MLT to someone who has NO CLUE what it is?
Laboratory technicians/scientist examine and analyze body fluids, and cells. They look for bacteria, parasites, and other microorganisms; analyze the chemical contents of fluids; match blood for transfusions; and test for drug levels in the blood that show how a patient is responding to treatment. Those results are given to the patient’s provider so they can make a diagnosis or change treatment. Research has shown that at least 70% of all medical decisions rely on some sort of laboratory data.
How has graduating from ZSC’s MLT program changed your life?
It has opened many doors for me. I was raised in a single parent home by a mother who worked in a factory with only a high school education. It gave me the confidence to complete an associate’s, bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree. I also teach as an adjunct professor in the MLT program at Zane State. Zane State helped give me the tools I needed for economic/ financial independence.
What was your greatest challenge in becoming an MLT?  Was it worth it?
The long study hours and the clinical rotations made it hard to work at the same time but it was still the best decision I’ve ever made.
What is your favorite thing about being an MLT?
The flexibility to work in the many areas of the lab. You can also specialize and get very good in an area of your interest (with a bachelor’s degree). It’s a very technology based field so if you love computers and cool tech it’s the field for you.
What would you say to someone that is on the fence about becoming an MLT?
Just do it, you have nothing to lose. The current lab professionals are starting to age out and the job market demand is only going to increase with salary.
What advice would you give to a new MLT student?
Work and study hard! Looking back over my time at Zane State it was so brief. It seems so daunting at first but my thoughts are, I can do anything for a short period of time no matter how rough.

Interested in learning more about the MLT program at Zane State? Contact Lucy Rucker at lrucker1@zanestate.edu or visit https://www.zanestate.edu/programs/medical-laboratory/.