When Dianne Ruggeberg moved to Rochester four years ago, she really didn’t have a clear understanding of where she wanted to work. “I knew I wanted to be in a medical field; I just didn’t know which specialty I wanted to be in,” she says.
That all changed the day she stumbled across a flier for a Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences open house while working at Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, Saint Marys Campus. “After reading the flier, I decided that I was just going to visit every booth at the open house to see what they had to offer,” says Ruggeberg. “I wanted to see how passionate everyone was about their respective programs, and I wanted to see if there was anything there that would draw me to any of the programs.”
When the day of the open house arrived, Ruggeberg says she found everything she was looking for and more in the school’s Histology program booth. “When I first walked up to the booth, there was a really excited student there who was just starting the program, so it was great to feed off of that positive energy,” she adds.
Following some initial discussion, Ruggeberg was offered a tour of the labs and classrooms used by the Histology program students and faculty, which further solidified her interest in the program. “After that, I decided to enroll in Rochester Community and Technical College to start getting my prerequisites taken care of,” she says.
At the time of her enrollment, Ruggeberg became part of Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences and Rochester Community and Technical College’s 1+1 program, meaning after successfully completing 36 credits of general education (including an introduction to medical terminology), she’d go on to complete her remaining 24 credits of core Histology-related courses through Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences. “That was so perfect,” says Ruggeberg. “It definitely made me feel like I was going down the right career path.”
Now that she has graduated and is in the early stages of her new career as a histology technician at Mayo Clinic, Ruggeberg says she’s sure of it.
“I love it,” she says of her new career. “The program really sets you up to start working right away. We were challenged by the faculty and our coursework so much, but, because of that, there’s nothing that I believe I can’t handle in the lab. The program is really great and really effective in that regard.”
Michelle Nelsen, Anatomic Pathology, who is the program director, says Ruggeberg’s route into the school’s Histology Technician program is one of two ways that students can enroll in the program. “The second route is for students who already have an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree,” says Nelsen. “If that’s the case, they can come to us for just those last nine months of courses to get their Histology Certificate, which then allows them to sit for their Histology certification board exam.”
Whichever route students take into the program, Nelsen says they’ll be met with a unique blend of both online and standard classroom curriculum intended to teach them everything they need to know about preparing microscope slides.
“In nine months’ time, our students learn all of the different tasks involved in preparing the slides before passing them on to a pathologist,” says Nelsen. “Students spend the majority of their time on campus doing physical lab activities, so they’re working directly with patient materials. We also do a lot of interactive review sessions, group discussions, and various investigative projects in the classroom, as opposed to standard lecturing.”
When students graduate from the program and successfully pass their Histology certification board exam, Nelsen says they’ll be met with a very welcoming job market. “For the past three years now, we’ve had 100 percent job placement for all of our students within the first six months of graduation,” she says. “We have a huge demand for histology techs here at Mayo Clinic. The demand right now is really, really high.”
Attend an open house to learn more
The Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences will host another open house on Thursday, Nov. 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. CST, in Phillips Hall, Siebens 1.
At this free event, which is open to the public, you can:
- Preview more than 25 health science careers.
- Discover your education pathway and career.
- Take behind-the-scenes classroom tours.
- Talk with current students.
- Meet the experts.
Area high school students, two-year college students, four-year college students and adults considering a career change are encouraged to attend.