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STEP into a VA career as a medical technologist

Though you don’t often see them when you visit a VA facility, medical technologists are critical to making sure Veterans receive accurate diagnoses, treatment, and care.

As a key part of our health care team, medical technologists—also known as medical laboratory scientists (MLS)—work in our laboratories and provide Veterans with accurate and efficient test results. Their investigations deliver vital information to clinicians, and in turn, influence the care we provide.

Think you have what it takes to be a medical technologist? Interested in a path to post-graduation employment? Read on!

Multi-disciplinary methodology

Working across multiple disciplines—including chemistry, hematology, coagulation, urinalysis, and microbiology—medical technologists test and analyze blood, tissue samples, and more. After testing, they interpret results and suggest follow-up tests or procedures.

Many of the skills that apply directly to your chosen profession also make you an excellent candidate for a job at VA.

  • Analytical thinking: Since you’re involved in various lab-based investigations, strong analytical skills will allow you to provide precise, reliable data to your team.
  • Time management: Working as a medical technologist at VA, there will rarely be much downtime. If you’re efficient and organized, you’ll deliver results in a timely manner.
  • Communication: A key component in your duties is sharing your findings with colleagues and medical staff, so good communication skills can help you excel in these interactions.
  • Attention to detail: A successful medical technologist has an inherently meticulous nature. Precision in diagnostics and analysis is a key component of quality control.

Take the first STEP

VA’s Student Trainee Experience Program (VA-STEP) is a program for aspiring medical technologists who are seeking fulfilling careers improving the lives of those who’ve served our nation.

Through this program, you’ll be employed as a trainee, working full-time over the course of a 10-week summer program between your junior and senior years. For 400 hours, you’ll work under the supervision of a mentor, earning a salary while caring for Veterans at a local VA facility.

What’s better, each facility has transition programs designed to keep you employed after graduation, moving you from trainee to a medical technician role as part of your pre-certification placement.

We’ve empowered our medical laboratory scientist (MLS) coordinators to use available onboarding exceptions to bring on the MLS students immediately after graduation. This can keep you working within the VA system as you complete the certification process and eliminate any gaps in your employment.

As an added incentive, you may be hired at a salary rate above the minimum, based on superior qualifications, such as documented outstanding performance in the VA-STEP program and/or number of hours completed as a VA-STEP participant.

Eligibility for VA-STEP depends on a number of factors. The program is open only to U.S. citizens, but there are additional qualifications. When you apply, you must be:

  • A current student enrolled in a nationally accredited MLS program who has completed or is within one semester of completing the junior year of their bachelor’s degree program
  • Willing to undergo a background/suitability investigation
  • Able to work 400 hours during summer between junior and senior year
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale
  • Currently in good academic standing leading to graduation, as defined by your school or university

Most importantly, an interest in Veteran-centric health care and in employment at a VA medical center after graduation will make sure you’re putting your talents and training to good use.

Other options for assistance

Outside of VA-STEP, you may also qualify for the Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP). This program awards scholarships to students receiving education or training in a health care services discipline, including medical technologists/MLS roles.

What if you’ve already completed your education? VA has student loan repayment programs that help ease your financial burdens and offer gainful employment at the same time.

Through the Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP), some employees may be eligible for up to $100,000 in debt repayment assistance in exchange for signing a service agreement establishing your intent to remain with our team for at least 3 years.

By cancelling loans after 10 years of public service, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program removes the burden of student debt and incentivizes people to work in high-need fields throughout the federal government, including at VA.

Work at VA

Are you ready for a meaningful career supporting the medical team at VA? Discover a rewarding new mission as a medical technologist today.

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