MLT to MLS student shares insights as a full-time student and employee

As an employee of Harlem Hospital in New York City, medical laboratory science student Esah Ali, Esq.PA/CLT/HTL, has worked amidst the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak in the region. Through it all, Ali is managing full-time responsibilities in the lab while maintaining his coursework with the College of Health Sciences. 

Ali is part of the Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) to Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) program which is exclusively offered to certified medical laboratory technicians, who are employed in a hospital laboratory, to advance their education. After completing their coursework, graduates attain a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science and can then sit for the certification examination (ASCP) at the MLS level.

Ali has worked in a hospital laboratory setting since 1995 when he accepted a position at Mount Sinai Hospital. He is now the Assistant Director of Pathology at Harlem Hospital in New York City where he oversees the pathology lab and mortuary.

The MLT to MLS program at CHS was the perfect fit for Ali who was searching for an online program with flexibility for non-traditional students. “It has been very challenging working full time and attending school full time, but I have found the experiences valuable to my professional career,” he said.

As COVID-19 swept across the nation, Harlem Hospital was at the center of the worst of the outbreak in New York City, forcing Ali to balance his career and schoolwork with a global crisis. “When COVID exploded in New York it was harrowing,” Ali said. “Part of my job was to stack bodies because at one time we were hitting 700 deaths per day.”

“It really took a toll for the first five weeks,” Ali continued. “Health care professionals felt incredibly demoralized. We were working in our own version of a war zone and are still grappling with the lingering mental health impacts. Focusing on my coursework became an escape and way to cope with what was unfolding around me.”

Ali urged the public not to forget about health care workers like lab professionals who may be delivering important care behind the scenes.

“Any decision made by your health care provider is usually the result of a lab test,” he said. “We perform analysis that may drive a diagnosis and many other health care decisions. I would encourage all health sciences students to consider the medical laboratory science field. It’s incredibly rewarding.”