Team creating high school laboratory sciences class

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | June 26, 2018

Image with caption: From left, the UNMC team includes Melissa Holzapfel, Geoffrey Talmon, M.D., Maheswari Mukherjee, Ph.D., Peter Iwen, Ph.D., and Karen Honeycutt,

From left, the UNMC team includes Melissa Holzapfel, Geoffrey Talmon, M.D., Maheswari Mukherjee, Ph.D., Peter Iwen, Ph.D., and Karen Honeycutt,

UNMC faculty are working with the Nebraska Department of Education to develop a pilot course for high school students on laboratory medicine.

Geoffrey Talmon, M.D., associate professor of pathology and microbiology, is designing the course with Karen Honeycutt, associate professor and program director of medical laboratory science. The goal is to steer interested students toward the laboratory sciences, which, Dr. Talmon said, contain opportunities of which many high school and even college students are unaware.

"There is a massive shortage nationally of lab professionals, from phlebotomists to pathologists," Dr. Talmon said. "And most students have no clue about careers that exist in the lab."

During the first week of June, Dr. Talmon, Honeycutt, Maheswari (Manju) Mukherjee, Ph.D, assistant professor and education coordinator, cytotechnology program, and Melissa Holzapfel, tissue sciences facility supervisor, met with educators and laboratory professionals to discuss the course.

It would be an elective, semester-long course that teaches students to apply concepts and think like a clinical laboratory professional, as well as exposes them to the varied professions within the medical laboratory science field.

"The point (of the June event) was to get all the stakeholders in a room to discuss things, and I thought it went really well," Honeycutt said. "There was a lot of nice dialogue about what the medical laboratory science professions are, and the variations within those professions, and what the educators are excited about teaching."

The state department of education is excited about the possible new course, Honeycutt said. "They also are spearheading this, because they want to help with workforce development and this is a great arena."

She and Dr. Talmon are developing standards, goals and objectives -- and also working to "get teachers excited," Dr. Talmon added.

The six teachers at the June event came from all over the state. A future meeting, set for July, will again pull in educators from across Nebraska.

"Teachers are very willing to beta-test teaching this course if it is approved through the Nebraska Department of Education," Honeycutt said.

The next steps are to expose the proposed standards to additional high school teachers and get input from the practitioners and educators.

Then, the course plan will have to be approved by the Nebraska Department of Education.

"Then, hopefully, we'll have some teachers willing to take on the task of beta-testing this course," Honeycutt said. "And once they do that, it hopefully flourishes so that others will teach the course."


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Elaine Haney
August 01, 2018 at 9:15 AM

Great idea, Laboratory careers are a great place to be!

July 02, 2018 at 8:59 PM

Great idea!

Fran Higgins
June 26, 2018 at 9:09 AM

Awesome idea! Hopefully, it'll be finished and implemented quickly.

Heidi Kaschke
June 26, 2018 at 8:49 AM

Fantastic idea and great work by everyone involved! Thank you for making this project happen.