Aug. 1, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Story by: Brandon Steinert and Michael DawesAs Leonard Bunselmeyer celebrates the end of an era with his recent retirement from a 41-year career, 34 of which were at Barton Community College, he looks forward to spending time with his grandchildren and taking advantage of volunteer opportunities.
Free time might be something of a new concept to Bunselmeyer, as he has become accustomed to a fast-paced environment.
“The first thing I’m going to do is decompress,” he said. “With a lot of programs in the healthcare area, there were always things to do and things to react to.”
Bunselmeyer’s hard work over the years has paid off and his legacy can be found on the BCC campus and across the state.
He played a critical role in founding the Medical Laboratory Technician program at BCC in the mid 1970s. He had been working at Central Kansas Medical Center as an MLT for seven years before he began helping Dr. Edward Jones implement the program in 1977. He served as the MLT program director from its beginning until 2009, when the responsibility was taken on by Cheryl Lippert.
The demand for the specialized coursework was born from a statewide lack of MLT curriculum.
Kansas had only a one-year clinical laboratory assistant program in Wichita and a two-year program at another community college when BCC started its program.
Today, only two programs in Kansas, including BCC, educate MLT students.
Training at the baccalaureate level has been around since the 1920s, but at the associate-degree level, the first programs started in 1969, he said.
Since its inception, the program’s success has been widespread as BCC graduates can be found working in labs in Russell, Ellsworth, Hoisington, St. Rose Ambulatory and Surgery Center, Great Bend Regional Hospital, Central Kansas Medical Park Ancillary Services, Ellinwood, Lyons, Stafford and Pratt.
“It’s interesting to look at how many areas where Barton graduates have climbed the ranks and are now managers of those labs,” he said. “We’ve definitely had an impact on the local area.
“I was recently with a grandson in the emergency room. The lab tech came to get the samples and that was one of my graduates. That brings it home when you see them working on your own family.”
Students as far away as Kansas City have taken advantage of the online curriculum, which has been available for about seven years.
It started out as a local project with classes promoted in central and western Kansas. It eventually expanded into Kansas City, which until BCC, did not have an MLT program.
“Since then, we’ve had students from Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska … It’s becoming a regional online program,” he said.
“There’s a time of contemplation and reminiscing; there’s a time for organizing materials to hand them off. Those have been important parts of approaching the time when I no longer will be here,” he added. “At the same time, I’m ready. I’m looking forward to next week, next month and next year.”