Allied health partnership helps blood bank industry

Southwestern Allied Health Sciences School has partnered with Blood Systems Laboratories, an affiliate of one of the nation's largest nonprofit community blood service providers, to offer a Web-based blood bank technology certification program that was unavailable in many parts of the country.

"This comes at an important time," said Barbara Laird-Fryer, assistant professor of medical laboratory sciences at UT Southwestern and an education coordinator for the program. "There are not as many physical blood bank technology programs as there used to be. Hospitals suffered a downturn in the '70s, '80s and early '90s and found that they could no longer afford to offer these programs. Our online program will help us reach out to professionals in many more areas and once again give them access to quality training."

There were about 60 such physical programs nationwide in the 1970s and 1980s but only about 13 remain today. Four of those programs are in Texas.

Making advanced training accessible is important to the entire blood banking community, said Sally Caglioti, vice president of Blood Systems Laboratories. Employees of the organization and its affiliates will have the first opportunity to enroll in the new online program.

"As a leader in our field, we took the initiative by partnering with UT Southwestern to make its already successful program available to our employees around the country," she said. "It's an important investment in preparing the leaders of the future."

Graduates of both the Web-based and traditional programs are eligible to take the certification examination to become a specialist in blood bank technology, which is administered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Registry.

UT Southwestern allied health school has offered a traditional blood bank technology program for 11 years. It is an accredited certification program for those who have a bachelor's degree and are certified medical technologists or have similar experience. The program is supported by Carter BloodCare and Parkland Health & Hospital System.

The program's primary objective is to offer training to individuals who wish to pursue a career in immuno-hematology or blood bank. The Web-based component of the program will teach these same principles and students will be required to meet the same standards. Didactic courses will be offered online, and clinical education will be coordinated through a local blood center or transfusion service. Students can begin enrolling for the Web-based program in fall 2005.