Columbia State Community College has launched its new Medical Laboratory Technician program and has hired Michael Baker as the director.

The Associate of Applied Science degree can be attained through an intensive 11-month program designed for immediate career entry. The program is structured to provide competency-based classroom and clinical experience that provides students with the tools necessary for licensure examination success and gainful employment. Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible to sit for the American Society for Clinical Pathologists or the American Medical Technologist national credentialing and state licensure examinations.

Baker explained that 80 percent of all healthcare processes involve lab testing and over 12 billion lab tests are performed each year. Medical Laboratory Technician is in the top-five healthcare critical shortage occupations in the nation. Nationally, there is a 50,000-technician shortage. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians will grow by 22 percent between 2012 and 2022 – approximately 5,000 technicians are being produced per year, which is half of what is needed to meet the projected demand.

Michael Baker is director of the new Medical Laboratory Technician program at Columbia State. // SUBMITTED

“In his first six months, Michael has focused on recruiting students, formalizing partnerships with the professional community, preparing a dynamic learning environment and working on documents for state and national approval of the program,” said Dr. Kae Fleming, dean of the health sciences division at Columbia State. “The college is excited about the launch of this new program and looks forward to having another successful healthcare option for students under Michael’s direction.”

Baker earned a bachelor’s in wildlife management from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and a master’s in secondary education from Tarleton State University. In addition to his degrees, Baker holds certificates in chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology and botany. Baker is also an ASCP certified medical technologist.

 “We are striving to produce professional technicians who will meet the demand of the community,” Baker said. “Columbia State’s program is on the road to accreditation and is expected to expand over time.”

 Baker noted that the introductory medical laboratory course has exceeded enrollment goals for the first semester. Baker’s immediate goals are for the MLT program to positively impact learners and the communities that Columbia State serves.

Courses will be offered on the Columbia Campus with core courses beginning summer 2017. For additional information or application details concerning the MLT program, contact the health sciences division at or visit