Meet the Medinas: Keeping CLS in the Family
Published July 25, 2022
By Darlene Muguiro
UTEP College of Health Sciences
Jesus Medina, Jr., a senior in the Clinical Laboratory Sciences (CLS) Program, was literally born into the medical laboratory profession. This summer, he will follow in the footsteps of his father, Jesus Medina, Sr., and graduate from UTEP to begin a career as a medical laboratory scientist.
Medina, Sr., a 1996 graduate of the UTEP Medical Technology Program (now known as Clinical Laboratory Science), said that while he didn’t pressure his son into going into the field, he was happy to share details about his own experiences in nearly three decades as a professional – from his first assignment as a generalist at Thomason Hospital (now University Medical Center) to his current position as the director of Del Sol Medical Center’s laboratories. He also helped establish Del Sol’s trauma center.
As an advisor to the UTEP CLS Program, Medina, Sr. also meets with other CLS students to help recruit them for positions at Del Sol. The shortage of CLS professionals nationwide makes recruiting difficult, as many students are hired before they graduate by the same companies at which they complete their clinical rotations. Despite the challenges, he says that the career itself is rewarding and provides opportunities for lifelong learning.
As a student, Medina, Sr. recalled his professors clearly communicating their passion for the field and dedicating their time to bringing new generations into the profession. One of those professors was a novice instructor, Lorraine Torres, who taught several of Medina Sr.’s classes during his junior year. Many years later, Torres became the director of the CLS Program and eventually taught Medina, Jr. She says that one of the points of pride for the program is the frequent occurrence of family members recruiting one another into the field.
“I’ve had multiple instances where sisters, brothers, or cousins of CLS graduates come into our program,” she said. “CLS is definitely a family affair.”
One of Torres’ goals is to recruit students with strong science backgrounds into the program. Medina, Jr. says his personal background and fascination with branches of chemistry provided a solid foundation for entry into the field. Along with the clinical skills that he gained through the curriculum, Medina, Jr. values the integrity that is reinforced throughout the degree and during clinical rotations.
“We’re taught that every sample that we deal with is a life, so we need to show good ethics,” he said. “The level of integrity that the professors instilled in me is something that I will carry with me into the future.”
Following graduation, Medina Jr. will continue working for Providence Memorial Hospital in the departments of hematology and microbiology; he was hired in February of this year during his clinical rotations. The diversity of the field will allow him to explore additional options in the future as he continues to grow as a professional.
“I’d like to hopefully get my master’s degree and go into forensics,” he said.” The laboratory will help me get to where I want to be.”
For more information about the Clinical Laboratory Science program, please visit: https://www.utep.edu/chs/cls/
Photo courtesy of Dr. Lorraine Torres.