Mercy Ada Medical Laboratory Sciences Program Celebrates 70th Anniversary

May 14, 2024

Written by Mercy's Ellis Kmetzsch

Mercy Hospital Ada’s Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) program is celebrating seven decades of continuous operation. Started by Valley View Regional Hospital in 1954 and continued when Mercy took over hospital services in 2013, the program has graduated 365 students who have gone on to provide critical lab services in and around the state of Oklahoma.

“People saw a need in the community and decided to start a program in Ada,” said Leah Babcock, education coordinator for the MLS program in Ada. “It’s difficult to attract lab professionals to rural communities in Oklahoma, and this program has allowed local students to study close to home, graduate and then stay and care for their communities.”

Mercy doctor's coat Mercy Medical Laboratory Sciences Program 2024 graduates

Ada’s medical laboratory science program is one of only three hospital-based clinical programs remaining in the state of Oklahoma and is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences. Based in Ada, the program has expanded to additional clinical sites at Mercy hospitals in Ardmore and Oklahoma City.

Graduates from the program finish with a bachelor’s degree and training for a career in five major areas of laboratory work: blood bank, chemistry, hematology, immunology and microbiology.

“The students who come out of our program are quality professionals well-suited to work in a medical lab, equipped with the background knowledge needed to succeed,” said Bruce Mayhan, director of laboratory sciences at Mercy Hospital Ardmore. “Labs and hospitals in Oklahoma and all over the country recruit our graduates who are highly skilled and able to meet patients’ needs.” 

One multi-generational family of graduates are program alumni who have gone on to work in and serve their local community. Jennifer and Jason Manifold were newlywed students in the MLS program who graduated in 1994. Jennifer worked as a bench tech for 23 years and a lab manager for five years before moving on to other career opportunities. Jason currently works as a lab director, managing nine lab locations and over 80 employees.

“It’s been a tremendous career. The staff and teachers in the program really provided us with invaluable experience and knowledge,” said Jason. “I’d say we’ve been pretty successful in our careers, and it’s thanks to the training we received in this program that allowed us to get where we are today.”

Little did Jason and Jennifer know their son, Tyler, would follow in their footsteps nearly 25 years later and graduate from the same program.

“I was very much inspired to go into medical laboratory sciences because of my parents. I would go to work with my mom and dad as a kid and see the big flashing lights and hear how they were helping patients,” said Tyler. “What solidified pursuing this field for me was losing my uncle when I was younger, which inspired me to help the people I love through lab services.”

Working in the same field has also led to interesting dinner conversations and brainstorming sessions for the family.

“We always have something to talk about, especially since we all understand what the others are discussing, which is really special,” said Jennifer. “It’s been really helpful in our respective careers to get input and ideas on how to improve or what new equipment to try.”

This year’s class consists of seven students graduating on May 9. An additional nine students will start their studies in the program on May 20.

“This program has made a difference by meeting the professional lab workforce needs for this region and beyond,” said Babcock. “We are proud of our many students and all they’ve accomplished, and we look forward to what students will continue to do with their skills and knowledge after graduation.”

For more information about Mercy Hospital Ada’s Medical Laboratory Sciences Program, visit their online information and application page