Clinical Laboratory Sciences


Clinical laboratory sciences is one of the oldest medical professions. At first, laboratory technicians received on-the-job training under the direct supervision and tutelage of the pathologist. In 1928, the American Society of Clinical Pathologists established a standing committee called the Board of Registry whose purpose was to establish requirements for lab technician certification. In 1933, this group published a list of 34 accredited "schools." UTMB was not on this initial list, but records show that in 1932, under Dr. Meyer Bodansky, students were accepted for a six-month training program. Most students entering this hospital-based program were high school graduates.

As the profession grew and developed, educational requirements increased to two years of college credit plus one year in an accredited laboratory technology program. At UTMB, this was the School of Medical Technology under the direction of Dr. Elwood E. Baird. Students entering the program with three years of college credit were awarded the baccalaureate degree after one year of study at UTMB.

Students were accepted one each month and assigned to a rotation schedule through the various clinical departments -chemistry, hematology, microbiology, and so on because of space constraints. All students came together for a one-hour lecture each day. They received a lecture and laboratory grade for each course. The program was located in the clinical lab of John Sealy Hospital and was frequently referred to as the John Sealy program. Medical technologists shared instructional responsibilities with the medical school faculty.

In 1967, the University of Texas Board of Regents approved establishment of the School of Health Professions at the University of Texas Medical Branch, and, in April 1968, the Coordinating Board of the Texas College and University System granted its approval. With eleven entering students in September 1968, medical technology was one of the school’s five charter programs. The school was situated in rented space on the second floor of Ave Maria Hall, previously the St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing. The first clinical chemistry teaching laboratory was a renovated nutrition laboratory.

This was the first academically based medical technology program in Texas and the southwestern U.S. It began with two full-time and five part-time faculty members and, for the first time, was under the direction of medical technologists. The curriculum has evolved from the six-month academic plus six-month clinical instruction format to the current two-year curriculum. The profession has also gone through numerous changes. The original "laboratory technicians" became "medical technologists" and are now "clinical laboratory scientists." - by Ruth Morris

Ruth Morris smiles at student looking through a microscope.

What CLS historian Ruth Morris modestly omitted from this story was her own role. The history of CLS at the School of Health Professions begins with Ruth Morris. She joined UTMB in 1967, the year the UT Board of Regents approved creation of the SAHS. She became founding chair of the Department of Medical Technology in the new school in 1968 and served in that role for 19 years, guiding the department and the school through its important formative period. Morris retired in 1990 and was a professor emeritus. When she was not assisting with teaching, Morris gardened and volunteered in the community. Ruth Morris died on January 12, 2016, in Galveston, Texas.

The Role of Dr. Meyer Bodansky in the Establishment of the Medical Technology Program

Elwood Baird poses for camera at his desk with a microscope.

The School of Medical Technology was started as a strict "on-the-job" type of training for individual students by Dr. Meyer Bodansky about 1932. Dr. Bodansky kept a notebook that simply gave the name of the student and dates he attended the school. Training was for six months only. Dr. Henry Sweets succeeded Dr. Bodansky, from 1941 - 1947.

Dr. Elwood Baird took over as director of the program after Dr. Sweets. Under Dr. Baird as director, the Board of Schools of Medical Technology was established in 1949 as part of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists.

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