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The Clinical Laboratory Development Program (CLDP) powered by SHIELD is a hands-on clinical laboratory experience and training program which allows aspiring clinical laboratory technicians (known as apprentices) to gain relevant molecular testing experience working in diagnostic infectious disease testing. In addition to in-laboratory experiential learning, this program allows the apprentices to gain knowledge from home through virtual modules on workplace professionalism, clinical compliance, and various molecular-based clinical application modules decided and designed by contributing partners. The CLDP will provide underserved communities with critical training and work experience, creating on-ramps for individuals to enter and move up the workforce. This program will address the shortage of qualified clinical laboratory personnel in Illinois, training the next generation of laboratory technicians and scientists. The diagnostic laboratory labor shortage crisis is an issue that can be fixed by adding experienced apprentices to the clinical laboratory workforce. Program graduates will fundamentally improve patient lives and shape the career trajectories of the apprentices we serve, creating a positive impact across the State of Illinois.

Laboratory personnel play an important role in healthcare. They perform a range of tests that aid in patient diagnoses, a critical step in patient care. The Clinical Laboratory Development Program is designed for current working professionals and students with at least a high school diploma or equivalent to work in moderate complexity clinical testing. The program is also designed for students with some college experience to work in high complexity testing (transcript submission required). The program is designed to be completed in one year. The curriculum is a hybrid between an in-laboratory, hands-on experience and virtual modules designed to show the apprentices important skillsets to be a productive technician in clinical laboratories across the state in various hospital and reference laboratory clinical settings.

Apprentices will receive training in the following areas: hands-on laboratory techniques for clinical molecular-based testing, team-oriented clinical laboratory work, professionalism in approaching new situations, remote learning on clinical compliance and molecular-based clinical application modules. This program is especially attractive to professionals who: want to begin or switch careers in the clinical laboratory field, develop their molecular-based skillset, gain experience in a clinical setting, or gain experience to apply towards a current job or promotion.

Clinical rotations are provided to qualified and diverse student trainees who are enrolled in medical laboratory technician and scientist degree programs. Students will gain hands-on training in laboratory foundations and will have access to CDLP partner recruitment activities for full time employment opportunities. Depending on degree, students can be trained for moderate or high-complexity testing.

Clinical rotations are also provided to qualified individuals looking for pathways to employment in clinical laboratory roles. This includes graduates of two- and four-year degree programs and those with suitable backgrounds in chemistry and biology. Skills-based trainees will benefit from work experience and training in the CDLP, as well as access to CDLP partner recruitment activities for full time employment opportunities.


The Clinical Laboratory Development Program will prepare apprentices in both moderate complexity and high complexity testing. All apprentices will be hands-on laboratory technicians, and will be expected to be team-oriented in their approach to clinical laboratory work while approaching new situations with professionalism.

Molecular pipetting Pipetting using a sample handler
Complex reagent & master mix making Simple reagent making / pipetting using automation
Result interpretation (including troubleshooting) Robotics instruments troubleshooting
Analytical instrument maintenance Robotics and other instrument maintenance & cleaning
Mechanistic training Scanning and accessioning training
Verification of assay design training Maintaining a molecular/PCR-clean environment
  PPE/safety training in a micro/molecular lab


Cohort arrives, then weeks 1-16 feature onboarding, assay training, and online modules. The cohort arrives to the partner's program, then Phase 2 begins. Weeks 17 to 52 feature partner onboarding and assay training, then the cohort is eligible for ASCP certification.

In addition to the one year of in-person training, professional development virtual modules will be offered and designed by experienced industry professionals. Virtual module topics might include:

  • Fire, chemical, and PPE laboratory safety
  • HIPAA compliance
  • Professionalism and collaboration in a laboratory setting
  • Advocating for process changes in clinical setting
  • Placement and application to partner companies and affiliates
  • CAP and CLIA compliance for clinical microbiology
  • Validation and verification studies in a clinical setting

Virtual module topics will be assigned on Medialab for all apprentices to access during the corresponding week the assignment is due.