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course, she co-teaches a "Hematology
Laboratory" course. McHale also helps host
Open Labs a faculty-supervised block of open
time, which allows students to practice their
clinical skills and ask questions.
"We're very fortunate to have the time and
space to help students master the skills they
are learning in class." Most other colleges
don't offer such opportunities, she added.
"Our Open Labs have been so successful we
have extended the hours this semester to
include morning sessions, and we've seen
even more activity."
McHale is so dedicated to her students'
success that she often acts as a patient.
"I let Phlebotomy students practice
drawing blood on me but only after I've
seen them perfect the skill," she said,
laughing. "There's no way around it, practice
makes perfect."
Always looking for ways to upgrade the
program and reduce the time students
spend on clinical rotations in hospital settings,
McHale has started to apply competency-
based clinical rotations to the MLT Program.
"Statewide, medical laboratory programs are
very competitive," she explained. "There are
a lot of students, but only so many available
placements for them to complete their
required clinical rotations.
"We have interfaced all of our lab
instrumentation using a laboratory-information
system computer software that processes,
stores and manages data from all stages of
medical processes and tests that was
generously donated to the college," she said.
"Now, as part of their coursework,
Phlebotomy students generate patient
information, put it into the computer, print
labels and draw samples just like they
would in a hospital lab.
"Then, we save those samples and MLT
students come in and perform hematology and
chemistry testing. It's a simulated real-world
medical laboratory right here on campus."
The competency-based model was developed
for the student's first clinical practicum in
urinalysis and body fluids. Overall, this
teaching model reduced the time spent at the
clinical affiliate down from two weeks to three
days, she explained.
McHale is in the process of developing
similar competency-based rotation programs
for chemistry, hematology, microbiology and
immunohematology courses.
"It's exciting work," she said. "We have to be
the college that's on the forefront. If we can
successfully establish these protocols, it could
potentially change the way these kinds of
programs are run."
While McHale works hard behind the scenes to
continuously improve MCC's medical laboratory
programs, her real passion is working directly
with students.
"We have small class sizes here, which
allows me to get to know my students well,
and really get involved in their education
and their success.
"When they see their professors showing a
genuine interest in them as students and
as people they try harder. Seeing their
dedication and their passion makes it easy
for me to go above and beyond to help them."
Tura Linderholm
Faculty Profile
McHale leads a Medical Lab Tech demonstration at a STEM Starter Academy Expo
for high school students.
Professor McHale helps clinical laboratory students perfect their skills during Open
Lab in the Talbot Building on the Lowell Campus.
Phlebotomy student practices a blood draw on McHale.