Military Training to Civilian Certification

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Michael Hong
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing public affairs

Have you ever wondered about the folks wearing lab coats at the McGuire Air Force Base Medical Clinic? All along, Reserve Citizen Airmen like Senior Airman Angel J. Latorre, 514th Aerospace Medicine Squadron medical laboratory technician, have been drawing blood and scrutinizing urine samples for the 514th Air Mobility Wing, to keep the Freedom Wing combat ready.

Before the military, Latorre aspired to become a registered nurse but the financial aid he needed was not within his reach. After going to a U.S. Marine recruiter and not finding what he was looking for, he turned to the U.S. Air Force.

Latorre graduated from the USAF Medical Laboratory apprentice course in February of 2014 and then passed the American Society for Clinical Pathology certification. Latorre started working as a medical laboratory technician for the Inspira Health Network in July of 2014. Currently, he juggles shifts between Temple University Hospital and  Patient First when he isn’t drilling for the Air Force Reserve.

 “My Air Force Reserve recruiter out of nowhere told me, ‘Hey, you know I have this wonderful job for you! You’re going to be in the lab working with white blood cells and leukocytes!’” Latorre said. “He told me that the military job will easily transfer over to a civilian position and I am greatly thankful for it.”

After over 500 days of training at two military technical schools and 45 days of hands-on training, Latorre was able to pursue an ASCP certification.

“I had wonderful instructors,” Latorre said. “I felt like I had all the right pieces as far as training.

“The military gave me the experience I need to take the ASCP certification tests,” he said. “Once I was able to get through the hands-on training through the military, I qualified to take the tests.”

For Latorre, having the ASCP certification along with the military experience was a significant resume builder.

“It helped a lot,” he said.

Laboratory technicians at the McGuire AFB clinic provide a wide range of services to the Freedom Wing. Ranging from and beyond blood transfusion services, drug testing, testing for flu antigens, blood analytics, and parasitology.

“The best way I can put it is, any and everything that leaves your body comes to us,” said Latorre. “Anything that your doctor wants to see basically comes through us.”

Seeking an ASCP certification goes beyond the requirements of the U.S. Air Force. Fortunately, for the Freedom Wing, most of the Reserve Citizen Airmen lab technicians at the 514th AMDS have obtained an ASCP certification, considered the gold standard of certification for laboratory professionals world-wide.

“I’m lucky to work in a place where eight out of ten lab technicians have obtained ASCP certifications,” said Chief Master Sgt. Mynor Guzman, the 514th AMDS health services chief. “Most other places where I have worked, even on the outside, this is not the case.”

For now, Latorre is working on his associate degree with the Community College of the Air Force so that he can pursue an accelerated bachelor’s degree program to become a medical technologist.

“He brings a lot of vigor to the workplace,” said Senior Airman Jean Desrosiers, 514th AMDS medical laboratory technician. “I have the peace of mind that he will always bring energy into the workplace.”