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It’s National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (April 21-25) and wow, what a week of celebration and recognition we’ve had! We’ve had the opportunity to enjoy a little extra fun and camaraderie from crazy sock day to sport day. The theme this year is “Laboratory Professionals Get Results,” highlighting the close ties between correct diagnoses in the laboratories and the best outcomes for patients. We have much to celebrate under that theme – to include a very successful implementation of a new bedside management and labeling system, staff member, Marilyn Mitchell’s breakthrough idea, research and development of a laboratory tool to speed up the diagnosis of Valley Fever, and much more!
Laboratory professionals really do make a difference in the well-being of our patients every day. An interesting fact: approximately 300,000 medical laboratory professionals perform and interpret more than 10 billion laboratory tests annually in the U.S. That’s amazing! Community Regional Medical Center employs over 180 laboratory professionals who serve in a variety of roles: Pathologists, Pathology Assistants, Clinical Laboratory Scientists (CLS), Phlebotomists, Laboratory Technicians, and registration, courier and clerical staff.
We commend all of our laboratory professionals for:
The laboratory is often the “behind the scenes” medical team and many are unaware of the variety of career paths that are available in the laboratory. I would like to highlight some of the more common careers in our hospital – spotlighting a few of our long term, dedicated team members.
Pathologist: The leader in the laboratory is a Medical Doctor who has completed a residency program in Pathology.
David L. Slater, M.D. is a 1983 graduate of The University of Minnesota School of Medicine. Dr. Slater completed his Residency in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He completed a Surgical Pathology Fellowship at the University of Minnesota. He is Board Certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology, Cytopathology, and Transfusion Medicine/Blood Banking. Dr. Slater currently serves as Medical Director of the Blood Bank and Transfusion Service Laboratories at Community Regional Medical Center. He also serves on the Board of the Central California Blood Center. He has been practicing pathology since 1984, and is a founding member of Pathology Associates.
Dr. Slater said, “I enjoy being part of a team that works hard to provide information to help patients – even though we don’t know the patient and they are trusting us without knowing us.”
Clinical Laboratory Scientist (CLS): A CLS has a strong science background and an interest in solving puzzles. They have a Bachelor Degree in a Science and have completed a Clinical Laboratory Science program. A CLS may be a generalist or work in a specific department such as Chemistry, Hematology, Coagulation, Urinalysis, Blood Bank, Microbiology, or a variety of other specialty areas such as Point of Care Testing and Laboratory Information Systems.
Douglas J. Alexander, CLS, MT (ASCP) has a Masters in Biochemistry and has been a laboratory employee at Community Regional for 36 years. Douglas said, “I enjoy my job because I get to set up and operate complex equipment, train and educate other employees and students, and help provide medical care for patients through laboratory testing.”
Rick Spears, CLS, has been at Community Regional for 38 years. He started working as a CLS and later transitioned into his current “non-traditional” CLS role in the Laboratory Information Department (LIS). He helps ensure that the patient’s laboratory test results are displayed in reports appropriately and transfer through the various interfaces to the Electronic Medical Record. He also is a resource for report generation, billing interfaces and laboratory instrument interfaces.
Phlebotomists: The Phlebotomists are the “FACE” of the Laboratory. They interact with the patients and are skilled at collecting QUALITY specimens. Their skill set includes precision and accuracy, high attention to detail, and excellent people skills. They have a high school diploma with additional phlebotomy training and work experience. California also requires a CPT1 or CPTs license.
Kloe Saephan has been a phlebotomist for 8 years and has been a part of the Community Regional team for 7 years. Kloe said, “I love to be able to interact with a variety of patients from Labor and Delivery to the Emergency room, from newborn infants to geriatric patients.”
Joel Godin has been a phlebotomist at Community Regional for 14 years. Joel works in the outpatient laboratory and enjoys working with a variety of patients and coworkers. Joel said, “I enjoy my work as a phlebotomist and find this type of work very rewarding.”
“Pretend Patient” is Phlebotomist Ruth Rocha. Thank you, Ruth!
Laboratory Technicians work with the licensed CLS in many of the laboratory departments. They are employees who show a high interest in Technology, can perform precise and accurate tasks, and have the ability to multi-task in a busy environment. They perform clerical work, specimen pre-analytical processing, instrument maintenance, automation instrument tasks. They typically have a college degree or some type of advanced college science coursework or relevant experience.
Terry Battles has a BS in Biology and has been at Community Regional for 33 years. He is one of the microbiology laboratory technicians who perform many of the pre-analytical microbiology functions such as culture specimen “plating.” Terry said, “I like the challenge of solving the "infection" problems of the patient.”
Patricia Garcia is one of the “CORE LAB” laboratory technicians who perform the front end pre-analytical processing. She has a phlebotomy (CPT1) license and 28 years experience - 6 of these years at Community Regional. Trisha said, “I love being a part of a health care team that helps sick people heal.”
Nationally, there is a shortage of licensed CLS personnel and with the average age of the CLS being >55 years, this shortage will continue to be problematic for staffing. Many laboratories (including Community Regional) have focused on integrating non-licensed staff, automation, and auto verification into the workflow to ensure that fast, efficient, and quality patient care is provided while utilizing licensed staff (CLS) strategically and for oversight.
The laboratory environment is constantly changing and always an interesting career for those interested in science. We always welcome questions and love to show you our work world. Stay tuned for more information about two of Community Regional Laboratories’ current projects:
MBA, MLS (ASCP)
Director, Clinical Laboratory