FLORENCE---The Francis Marion University Board of Trustees, during its quarterly meeting Friday (Nov. 11), authorized the university to begin offering a bachelor’s degree in biology with an emphasis in medical technology.
The trustees authorized FMU to modify its program to begin offering a “3+1” program requiring 94 semester hours at FMU and 30 hours at the McLeod Regional Medical Center School of Medical Technology or another accredited school of medical technology. The proposed date of implementation is spring semester 2006.
“The cooperative program between FMU and McLeod will allow our students to develop the special skills needed for a professional career in medical technology, within the framework of a liberal arts education,” said Larry McCumber, FMU professor of biology and coordinator of the medical technology program. “They will be trained in the cutting edge techniques of cellular and molecular diagnostics while acquiring the broader liberal arts background that will better prepare them for their future roles as supervisors in a highly demanding and complex medical field.”
There is a nationwide shortage of personnel with medical technology degrees. The U.S. Bureau of Labor predicts that for the remainder of this decade there will be a need for 12,400 laboratory professional graduates per year. Currently, about 4,100 graduates are produced for medical technologists and medical laboratory technicians combined. The best available information indicates that only nine such graduates come from the Pee Dee region each year, not enough to fill the openings in area hospitals or in private laboratories and physicians’ offices.
Vacancy rates nationally run about 12 to 20 percent. In addition, 72 percent of the laboratory workforce is over the age of 40 with an average age of 47. About half the current laboratory workforce is eligible to retire by 2010.
The new FMU 3+1 program will make it possible for students to join the workforce one year earlier than the present 4+1 program. The proposed program will continue to provide the crucial scientific background for well-educated medical technology professionals.
The program modification will also enable eligible students to use the Life Scholarship during the clinical year and also allow access to other university financial aid programs for the fourth, clinical year.
All faculty, facilities and courses needed for this program are already in place within the Department of Biology.
The trustees also approved a resolution naming an auditorium in the nursing building in honor of Dr. John M. Thomason, a long-time Florence physician and a staunch supporter of the FMU nursing program. Dr. Thomason served the Pee Dee region for more than 30 years and has served as vice chairman of the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation board since its inception in 1995.
President Fred Carter said FMU desires to acknowledge the work of Dr. Thomason as a distinguished physician and philanthropist with this permanent tribute.
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