I have had many people ask me “What is a DCLS?”, “What would you do as a DCLS?”, “Why would want to do that?”
I was asked to create a blog to talk about my journey; before I started, what made me decide to go down this path, my experiences along my journey, and what I envision the ultimate practice of the DCLS to be. In this blog I will discuss all of this bringing in both anecdotal and evidence-based reasoning as well as cases that either put me on this path or pressured me to continue on. Hope you enjoy it.
First I will just tell you a little about myself and how I ended up in the clinical laboratory.
I was a horrible high school student. No, really … I was. The only reason I even passed high school Chemistry was because the teacher didn’t want to teach summer school. I had a fine arts scholarship to a private school in New Orleans, Louisiana, and every teacher was convinced that I would end up either teaching choir or being a band director. For this reason they said things to me like “Don’t worry if you don’t understand, you won’t use this in the future” and “Just do enough to pass because you won’t amount to anything anyway”. I heard it so much that I really believed it.
My first wake up call was when I was interviewing with a college admission officer (yes, back then before the Internet was a thing admissions officers would go to the high schools and conduct interviews). I was interviewing with Emerson College which was fairly competitive but I figured that I had done so well on the ACT that my grades didn’t matter. I will never forget was he told me. He said, “You have a 2.3 GPA and a 32 on the ACT. That tells me that you are smart but you are lazy. I would rather admit someone who is not as smart but willing to do the work over someone who is lazy like you.” That conversation has stuck with me my entire life. It was also the spark in me to make me do better.
I went to college, did the really stupid freshman thing: get married. I also had two kids while in college. I started out as a political science major for 2 semesters, switched to public relations for 1 semester, and then to secondary science education in Physics and Biology. Why Physics? The only high school teacher that ever believed that I could do anything was my Physics teacher, Mr Yaverbaum. While in that program I had to take the dreaded Chemistry classes. My first Chemistry class was taught by Dr Parkinson and something amazing happened. Chemistry finally “clicked”. I took another Chemistry class with Dr Parkinson and it began to become really easy. He even convinced me to switch my major to Chemistry. I finished at Southeastern Louisiana University graduating with a BS in Chemistry, concentration in Physical Chemistry, with minors in Biology and Physics.
(Side note: I was one semester from graduating and was one elective course shy and was also one course shy of the minor in Biology. I took Horticulture 101 aka Floral Design to finish out my minor in Biology. I can official design flower arrangements in the State of Louisiana now. LOL)
Unfortunately when I graduated in the 90’s the Louisiana economy had taken an extreme downward spiral. My original idea of working for DOW chemical or one of the oil refineries as a bench chemist fell through when they were laying off every one. The only job I could get was … teaching high school. So I taught public high school for 2 years. It only took that long to realize that I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life and I wanted to get back into the lab.
My childhood neighbor gave me an idea. She was a Med Tech and told me about a program at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – New Orleans where if you already had a degree in either Biology or Chemistry you could add on a 2nd BS degree in Clinical Laboratory Science in 15 months. I did the program and finally joined the ranks of the medical laboratory.
And I have loved nearly every minute of it since.