Medical Laboratory Professionals Week takes place April 24 – 30, 2016. We salute our incredible clinical laboratory team for their continued excellence. Jessica Salamy, a medical laboratory scientist, explains what it is like to work in this profession. 

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

I work with a group of curious investigators that help answer the question “What is the source of this patient’s symptoms and how do we provide the best care possible?” We are clinical laboratory scientists.  My profession consists of a large group of highly-skilled scientists who test patient specimens and support the hospital and its satellite locations. The Mayo Clinic estimates that “60 percent to 70 percent of all decisions regarding a patient’s diagnosis and treatment, hospital admission and discharge are based on laboratory test results.”

As a Medical Laboratory Scientist I wear three hats: I work in Hematology, Immunology/Flow Cytometry, and as a generalist at the Fanny Allen Campus lab. On a typical day I will be working to make sure specimens are properly collected and handled, have the appropriate test performed, and verify the accuracy of the results.

I enjoy interacting with other departments and learning from them. One of my favorite parts of this job is assisting on bone marrow collection. I love it because it is a great opportunity to connect with the patient and work alongside the providers who are caring for them. My specialty areas work in concert with many other departments in the lab to investigate a patient’s needs; many of them are open 24/7 to support patient care. For some perspective, we ran 2,345,991 tests last year, have 15 specialties, and 469 staff members under the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine umbrella.

Working at UVM Medical Center has afforded me many unique opportunities, and I consider myself very fortunate to work with people as passionate and driven to provide the best patient care possible. One opportunity is teaching the students in the University of Vermont’s clinical laboratory science program. Nothing is more rewarding for me than the moment a future laboratorian gets to observe something unique or beautiful under a microscope. I get excited each year to hear student ideas and perspectives along with their fresh passion for our profession.

A huge benefit of working in a lab that provides the best testing for our patients is that they support and encourage continued learning. Learning is a valuable asset to me both personally and professionally. Whenever there has been a learning opportunity I have been interested in, leadership has encouraged me to participate and been supportive when I have brought back new ideas from my experiences. This environment encourages us to stay current and research methods that keep us on the leading edge of laboratory practices.

Most of my investigation is behind the scenes, but I am still acutely aware that attached to each specimen is the name of an individual who needs the best results I can provide. I am lucky to work with a fantastic team composed of other scientists, pathologists, providers, educators, and support staff who exemplify the heart and science of medicine.

Jessica Salamay is a medical laboratory scientist at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

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