Scott Warner, MLT(ASCP), laboratory manager, Penobscot Valley Hospital, Lincoln, ME
| YUMMY CONCOCTIONS: Scott Warner,
MLT(ASCP), enjoys putting a good meal
together at home. ADVANCE thanks Scott
Q: What prompted you to enter the laboratory profession?
Warner: It was almost an accident. When I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1976, I told the interviewer, "I don't want to be a cop or a cook." In retrospect, both are great choices. But I thought I might be bored in those positions. I was given a choice between radiology and laboratory. Laboratory started 4 days earlier, so I chose it. I didn't know anything about either field.
Ironically, here I am, 30 years later, policing a group of cooks! (Think management and stepwise procedures). I believe I made the right choice, but at the time, I think any decision would have suited me.
Q: What were your family's opinions of you pursuing a career in the laboratory profession?
Warner: The laboratory is a difficult field for people to have an opinion about. People don't understand what we do. They think we either work in research or with bodily fluids (you know the two I'm talking about).
When I was offered a management job at a small laboratory, my father understood the idea of management, the risk of changing jobs and moving to a new area. He was excited about all of this, and I realized for the first time that he had been proud of my job all along.
The lesson here, if there is one, is that we shouldn't expect people to understand what it is we find exciting about our work. I think you're unlikely to understand quality control, calibrations and multi-tasking if you don't do it every day. But everyone respects the idea of helping patients and making a difference in their lives.
Q: How did you obtain your first job in the laboratory industry?
Warner: Again, it was almost an accident. When I left the Air Force, I moved back to Maine and applied at all of the local hospitals. I thought it would be easy to get a job in the laboratory, but it was difficult. I ended up working evenings as a motel clerk in a nearby city. This worked out well, because I attended seminary school in the mornings. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do at the time.
After several months, I assumed that I wouldn't hear from any laboratories. Then I received a letter from a hospital manager who had interviewed me. She wanted to know if I was still interested in a position. Because the hospital was 30 miles closer to my home, had better roads to get there and better pay, I was definitely interested.
Initially, I was impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the laboratory professionals. Almost 30 years later, I still am.
Q: What piece of laboratory technology would you not want to live without? Why?
Warner: It's a bit cliché to say the computer changed the world, but it's impossible to imagine a laboratory without them these days.
The versatility of computers in the laboratory has amazed me. It's easy to take them for granted. I'm particularly interested in programming repetitive tasks such as calculations and criteria-based decisions. For example, I wrote a routine that condenses and filters a daily log of laboratory results to produce a report for techs. The program "reads" the results, just like a tech. Instead of paging through a stack of reports, techs scan a summary report.
When techs understand that something can be programmed, ideas start flowing. If there's one thing laboratory professionals understand, it's efficiency. We love to do things faster, simpler and easier.
Q: How do you relax?
Warner: I've read that the difference between introverts and extroverts is how your batteries get recharged. I don't mind crowds of people at social gatherings, but I find it draining. I guess that makes me an introvert. I enjoy doing quiet, solitary things, such as bike riding, yard work, reading or writing.
Every morning I walk 4 miles and in good weather, get to watch the sun rise over the lake in the middle of town. It gives me time to think and remind myself how beautiful the world is. It's a great way to start the day.
I enjoy cooking. My wife has been attending classes to finish her degree, and this has given me the opportunity to become re-acquainted with the kitchen. It's a lot of fun after working all day to play at the stove and invent something good to eat. Maybe I should have become a cook after all!
Q: Are you a summer or winter person?
Warner: Definitely summer! The older I get, the more I dislike the cold, the dark and the damp that is the winter. It's very beautiful here in Maine and the winters aren't really that cold, but it's hard to beat long summer evenings--hikes, bike rides, country fairs and fireworks. It makes the winter well worth it. As they say in Maine, "If you can't stand the winter, you don't deserve the summer."
Compiled by Karen Appold (KarenAppold@comcast.net), an editorial consultant based in Royersford, PA. Visit www.WriteNowServices.com for more information.