Northern Illinois University

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NIU delivers clinical laboratory sciences program to northwest Illinois
Sharon Summers, left, chief operating officer of Freeport Health Network, and Shirley Richmond, dean of the NIU College of Health and Human Sciences, sign an agreement to deliver NIU courses through FHN.

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News Release

Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-9472

April 20, 2006

NIU delivers clinical laboratory sciences
program to northwest Illinois
through Freeport Health Network

DeKalb — Northern Illinois University will bring its clinical laboratory sciences degree completion program to students in northwestern Illinois through a new partnership with Freeport Health Network.

Through the agreement signed April 11 in Freeport, students who have completed an associate's degree can work toward an NIU bachelor's degree in clinical laboratory sciences with limited travel to DeKalb. Graduates can work in hospital laboratories, blood banks, public health laboratory settings and forensics, all of which are suffering or will suffer from labor shortages.

The program debuts this fall with courses in hematology and hemostasis.

“There are so many opportunities available, from working in a hospital or physician's office lab to going into forensics, veterinary and research labs, and even education and health administration,” said Shirley Richmond, dean of the NIU College of Health and Human Sciences. “My bachelor's degree in clinical laboratory sciences was the first step in my health care career.”

“We're pleased to be able to offer this program to students from all over northwest Illinois,” said Sharon Summers, chief operating officer for the Freeport Health Network, which serves an average of 1,700 patients daily. “The people who work in our laboratories are an invaluable part of patient care, and we hope some of this program's graduates will choose to work with FHN.”

Students can earn bachelor's degrees in clinical laboratory sciences through this accelerated degree completion program with partial credit earned through life experience and other courses taken at the associate degree level.

Classes offered through the FHN partnership will be presented in one of three ways: in traditional, face-to-face class settings; through online classes (with a small number of face-to-face sessions each semester); and through distance learning, where a professor's lecture is “beamed in” to an audio-visual setting.

“We've had tremendous success with programs like these before,” Richmond said. “The scheduling and on-site classrooms greatly accommodate non-traditional students who are juggling families and jobs along with continuing their education. Once they complete their degrees, their enhanced skills will benefit their patients, of course, and themselves with new opportunities for career advancement.”

NIU's partnership with Freeport Health Network blossomed from a seed planted by Len Carter, FHN vice president for human resources. Based on Carter's interest, NIU completed a needs assessment through a survey sent to hospitals north and west of DeKalb as well as counties near Interstate 80.

Twenty respondents from eight hospitals indicated curiosity in the program; only three expressed interest in a lecture-only format. Nine ranked an online-only delivery or a blended online-video delivery as their top choices.

For information about general education requirements relative to this program, visit or or contact Sandy Splansky at (815) 753-1891 or via e-mail at For specific information about the clinical laboratory science issues, contact Jeanne Isabel at (815) 753-6330 or via e-mail at or Dianne Cearlock at (815) 753-6323 or via e-mail at

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