MLT Graduate Finds Success as Traveling Medical Lab Scientist
by Emilie Jenson, Public Information Office
Posted on 12/5/2023
Bailey Esslinger knew when graduated from high school that she wanted to work in healthcare, but it wasn’t until she came to Iowa Central as a student that she discovered her niche in the field.
“I knew I wanted to do something in the healthcare field,” said Esslinger, a 2019 Iowa Central graduate. “I thought maybe nursing or paramedic, but as I learned more about the MLT program I thought it would be a good fit because there is so much more to it than just bedside care”
She dove into the MLT courses, which Esslinger said prepared her for the workforce, along with later obtaining her medical scientist bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati
“We had a great class, everyone was fun to work with,” said Esslinger, a native of Bayard, Iowa. “Josh (Kraushaar, former MLT Program Coordinator) and Shawna (Schuler, current MLT Program Coordinator) were amazing instructors who prepared us for success in the field. Everything I learned at Iowa Central prepared me for the Medical Scientist Program at Cincinnati.”
Following graduation, Esslinger started her career as a medical laboratory technician at Greater Regional Health Center in Creston, then Cass County Memorial Hospital in Atlantic. While working in Atlantic, the COVID-19 Pandemic struck, resulting in an influx of patients needing inpatient care and a large need for laboratory technicians to keep up with patient care and COVID testing across the country. Esslinger answered the call and stepped into her current role as a traveling technician.
Her first travel contract landed her at Pender Community Hospital in Pender, Nebraska.
Near the end of her contract in Pender, Esslinger was watching a movie with her grandmother that inspired her next move.
“We were watching a Nicholas Sparks movie,” she said. “Most movies based on his books take place on the coast of the Carolinas, which I always loved. My grandma suggested ‘maybe you could try to get a contract somewhere in the Carolinas.’”
Esslinger contacted a traveling contractor and received placement in South Carolina, where she now makes her home near the coast and has spent the past three years working as a traveling medical laboratory technician/scientist.
“Hospitals reach out to the traveling agencies when they need help, those contracts are 13 weeks up to a year,” said Esslinger, who has worked travel positions in Conway, Greenville and Georgetown, South Carolina.
Esslinger said she has appreciated her time as a traveling MLT because she lives in a region of the country she loves and has plenty of opportunity to pursue both her career and her hobbies.
“I am doing something I never dreamed,” she said. “There is a great healthcare system here. I love to hunt, fish and go out in the boat. It is the best of both worlds; I can work and do all of that here. When you put in the time you can really leap out into different opportunities.”
Reflecting on her time at Iowa Central, Esslinger said the MLT program put her on the path to success.
“The instructors are very driven toward teaching students what they need to know,” she said. “When it came time to take boards- you can’t work without them- I felt very confident going into them, the program prepared me for those exams. Hands down, if I could do it again, absolutely I would go back through the MLT program at Iowa Central.”
I love the late nights in the library studying with friends, sometimes laughing more than studying.