Hussein Zak - MLS 460x460Hometown: Hilliard, Ohio

Major: Medical Laboratory Science (MLS), Certification Track

Class of 2023

Fun fact: I once got lost in a forest on a go-kart while traveling in Somalia.

Career path: After graduation I plan to work in a lab and apply to medical school.

Why did you choose your major? 

Before I began my freshman year at Ohio State, I knew that I wanted to be premed. I was unsure of what major to pursue and decided to choose nursing since it was what I had been most exposed to in the health care field. However, following the nursing curriculum while managing pre-med prerequisites would make it extremely difficult to do my best as a pre-med student. After looking further into health care related majors at Ohio State, I stumbled across Medical Laboratory Science (MLS). I talked with and shadowed several med lab scientists. I also met with alumni of the MLS program. 

MLS ended up being the perfect major for me as a pre-med student. MLS shares many of the same prerequisites as medical schools. Because of this, I did not have to overwhelm myself with both pre-major and pre-med requirements in my first year. It also provides the skills and certifications to be a competitive hire for clinical labs. That way, I could still play an important role in the health care field even if I changed my career path!

What advice would you give future students planning to pursue this major? 

One piece of advice I would give to students pursuing MLS is to explore the lab environment outside of the classroom. Although many of use get lab experience during basic chemistry and biology courses, the clinical world of lab is not the same thing. Shadowing and talking with current med lab scientists are a good way to know if the MLS world is a good fit. If possible, try to get a clinical lab assistant or tech job. Working as a lab tech will give you a great perspective on what MLS is about. In addition, the skills you learn will give you an advantage over those without lab experience.

I also would recommend getting involved and exploring your interests. Ohio State provides so many opportunities to find new things you are interested in or find others with similar interests. Exploring these interests or activities outside of the classroom gives you a better understanding of yourself, perhaps even guiding you to career paths you never considered! 

What has been the most helpful resource to you at Ohio State? 

The most helpful resource for me at Ohio State has been the MLS faculty. They really care about their students, always going above and beyond to support us. The MLS faculty are very friendly and approachable. They are easy to talk to about anything, whether it’s about class, their experiences as medical laboratory scientists or how you are feeling. They respect your thoughts and genuinely want you to have a great experience as an MLS student. Another way the MLS faculty helps their students succeed is by giving them opportunities outside of the classroom. Through their close connections with Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, the MLS faculty help students begin to work in clinical labs as early as their first semester in the program. One other resource I believe that has helped me a lot during my time at Ohio State is the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI). They provide great tutoring services and study resources for many classes.

What are you doing as a student at Ohio State that you never imagined you’d be doing? 

When I first started at Ohio State, I never imagined myself working in the NCH emergency department and interacting with so many different health care professionals. This experience has broadened my perspective on patient care and the health care team. I never expected working on the board for the Columbus Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST) and helping create the same experience I had for others. 

Do you feel prepared for the future of your profession?

I believe that the MLS program has done a great job in preparing me for the future of laboratory science. The techniques and tests we learn in lab are reflective of the current practices of the clinical laboratory. Our lecture material is up to date, including information on newly developed testing methods or illnesses. We learn our material in so much detail and put that knowledge into practice through our labs. There also are lab positions open for students to refine their skills even more. I feel that as I continue with MLS, I will be well prepared to succeed and show my knowledge during my clinical rotations. In addition, we are not only taught the knowledge needed to work in a clinical lab, but the mindset needed to succeed as a health care professional. 

What does “The future of health care begins here” mean to you?

To me, “The future of health care begins here” means that the education and experiences we have at HRS will give us the tools to shape and guide the future of healthcare. As we head into the future, it will be up to us students to use these tools to face current and emerging issues in health care while also advancing current practices. As HRS students, our effort and determination will help us succeed in creating solutions to these challenges facing the health care world.