Training for the Future – Student Gains Hands-on Experience at World-famous Mayo Clinic

Lauren Frank in a lab using a microscope

Medical laboratory science major Lauren Frank (’19) dreams big. She spent the last six months training at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Mayo Clinic is recognized as a leading facility in patient care, research and education. Nabbing a clinical rotation as a medical laboratory scientist there is quite competitive.

“Working at Mayo has always been a dream for me,” Frank said. “I was on a tour there when I found out I was chosen for the rotation. I was speechless. Our clinical coordinator handed me my schedule, and I honestly couldn’t believe what was happening. She asked if I
had any questions and my mind went completely blank.”

Frank called it an amazing opportunity to train with technologists who are passionate about what they do. The new graduate worked eight hours per day, Monday to Friday, rotating between different departments in the medical laboratory.

“There are three main areas in the hospital lab: blood bank, microbiology and core lab,” she said. “The blood bank is involved in blood transfusion services. Microbiology isolates pathogenic bacteria, fungi and/or viruses from patient samples. The core lab combines all the other subjects including chemistry, hematology and serology. My favorite specialties are either blood bank or microbiology because both departments involve a lot of critical thinking, almost like solving a puzzle.”

Frank grew up in Nashville and always knew she would work in the medical field. At age five, she was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue cancer commonly seen in children.

“I chose this career path because I wanted to help patients in the same way I was helped as a child,” she explained. “Lab results played a big role in my treatment and in the activities I could participate in during chemotherapy. If my complete blood counts (CBCs) were up, I could get out of the house for the day or spend time with friends.”

As she neared the end of her clinical rotation, the Mayo Clinic offered her a job. She’ll be working as a medical technologist in the microbiology department. 

“We aid in the diagnostic process,” she said. “Without lab results, doctors would have a very difficult time treating and diagnosing patients. A goal of mine is to one day get involved in cancer research. Cancer treatments have come a long way since I was in treatment, but I hope that someday in my lifetime we will find a cure for cancer.”

Now that she’s finished her undergraduate studies in the Waters College of Health Professions, Frank said many things stood out for her while studying on the Armstrong Campus.

“I loved organic chemistry with Dr. Brandon Quillian,” she said. “The class was very challenging, but he did an amazing job teaching it, and he was really passionate about the subject. I also loved Dr. Jennifer Zettler for my microbiology lab.”

The new alumna said working with the Student Temporary Services Team and as a science tutor at the SMART Center allowed her to meet many new people and get involved on campus. Frank hasn’t ruled out attending medical school to become a pediatric oncologist or pathologist.

— Sandra Bennett