Clinical Lab Sciences


Michael Astorino

Michael Astorino

Major: Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior
Overall GPA: 
3.60
Graduation Year:
2014

Which school are you attending?

I will be attending SFSU in August. This post-baccalaureate certification program consists of one semester of didactic learning followed by 10 months of clinical training at an affiliated lab site. I applied to four CLS programs (SFSU, SJSU, UCD, UCI) and was granted interviews at all of them. I was accepted into both SJSU and SFSU, but ultimately chose the latter. 

What UC Davis extracurriculars did you participate in?

During my short time as a UCD transfer student, I experienced a variety of extracurriculars. I worked one summer as an orientation leader and the following academic year as a peer adviser. I also volunteered for the UCD Pre-Health Conference, as well as some UCDMC and lab internships. On top of this, I enjoyed participating in intramural sports.

How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?

As my undergraduate career progressed, I became much better at managing time. I typically spent at least 20-30 hours per week studying, depending on whether or not I had an upcoming exam. 

Did you use a test prep course?

No. There is no standardized test necessary for applying to CLS programs. All you need to do is apply for a CLS Trainee License through Laboratory Field Services (a division of the California Department of Public Health). Just make sure you have all prerequisites completed before applying for the license. 

What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?

There are four main prerequisites every CLS program wants to see: Hematology, Immunology, Clinical Chemistry, and Medical Microbiology. I managed to do very well in all of these, while at the same time interning at a lab for experience. I think that demonstrating a steadfast work ethic and a strong understanding of these subjects are key for getting an interview. I also had good letters of recommendation and a very well-polished personal statement.

Did you apply nationally?

No. To become a licensed CLS in California, you must complete a one year laboratory internship within the state, even if you're already licensed in another state.
What advice do you have for others?

What advice do you have for others?

The process of applying is a bit tricky. There is no centralized application service like there is for other healthcare professions, so you must gather and send out all of your own documents. Each program requires original transcripts from every school attended, three letters of recommendation, personal statement, etc. For this reason, applying to just four programs was quite the hassle. The UC programs are smaller, but have their own medical centers where they can train you. The CSU programs are larger, but you must find an affiliated hospital site for lab training. Visit as many of these sites as possible to give yourself the best chances, as lab seats are what limit class size. I ended up driving to at least 20 different hospitals scattered throughout northern California. With a solid application and a little luck, you just might be accepted.

This largely unknown profession constitutes the backbone of any modern healthcare system. The clinical laboratory is responsible for generating the data used in over 70% of medical decisions. Everything from diagnoses to prescriptions to surgeries, all rely on the objective information provided from laboratory testing. If you enjoy independent analytical thinking and working with technology, this could be the right career path for you.