Dr. Jennifer Shea, National Medical Laboratory Week
“[There is] excellent work being done behind the scenes in the laboratory to ensure that patients receive top-notch care."
- Dr. Jennifer Shea, Clinical Chemist and Division Head of the Chemistry Laboratory, SJRH
Tell us about the role you play in healthcare and your connection with patients.
As a Clinical Chemist, it is my job to ensure that every result the lab puts out is high quality, accurate, and precise. To do this, I oversee many aspects of laboratory testing including quality assurance initiatives, result interpretation, and method selection and validation. I also consult with physicians on a regular basis to help them make sense of laboratory results that are difficult to interpret. In addition, I help our medical laboratory technologists (MLTs) troubleshoot any issues they run into while they are testing samples.
How does your work impact patients and the care they receive?
I distinctly remember one of our MLTs approaching me about a patient’s blood sample that was causing them problems. The physician had ordered routine laboratory tests however our instrument would not provide results – it kept giving an error message for this particular sample. As part of our troubleshooting, we were able to determine that the patient actually had a type of cancer called multiple myeloma which results in the production of an abnormal protein in the blood. When I called the physician to discuss our findings and suggest that the patient be referred to a hematologist for further workup, they were incredibly grateful as multiple myeloma was not part of their differential diagnosis. This is a great example of the excellent work being done behind the scenes in the laboratory to ensure that patients receive top-notch care.
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