Angela Phillips, MLS(ASCP)CM, medical technologist II, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN
Q: What prompted you to enter the laboratory profession?
Phillips: I was pursuing a degree in microbiology and molecular cell science at the University of Memphis in 2003, one semester away from graduation. Linda Ross, the medical technology program director at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, spoke to my immunology class about the lab profession. I had no idea that Tennessee had a licensure law, and that with just my microbiology degree I wouldn't be able to do much. I signed up for the MT program within the next month, attended 2 more years of school and the rest is history.
Q: How did you choose your discipline?
Phillips: My discipline sort of chose me. I started full-time at St. Jude on the evening shift, working blood bank, hematology and microbiology. The first day-shift job that became available was in hematology, so that's where I ended up. I love hematology, particularly coagulation and special coagulation. After I finish my master's of public health degree, I'm going to start studying for the specialist in hematology exam.
Q: What piece of laboratory technology would you not want to live without?
Phillips: It's really small but quite significant--Alpha Scientific's Diffsafe! It saves you from having to use a hematocrit tube to make a slide. I'm always worried about dumping the tube out on the counter when I have to take the cap off, and the Diffsafe eliminates that prospect.
Q: What laboratory events are you sure to attend?
Phillips: For sure the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) annual meeting, Legislative Symposium and our ASCLS-Tennessee annual meetings. My first national meeting was in Orlando, where I had the best time. The continuing education programs are always great, the hotels are fabulous and I always meet new friends. Annual meetings give you a chance to try new things in new cities, but at the Legislative Symposium I enjoy the routine--dinners at Thai Kitchen and Filomena's, trips to the Museum of American History to see Seinfeld's puffy shirt and Metro rides to the Hill.
Q: What are the greatest rewards of your work?
Phillips: I am fortunate to be a part of the best children's hospital in the world. The work we do at St. Jude changes lives--not only by finding cures for cancer, but also by working to find cures for other diseases. When I tell people where I work, they say, "Oh, I couldn't work there; it must be so sad." It's quite the opposite. I tell them that it's the greatest place on earth--because we're giving these kids a chance that they wouldn't have at any other hospital. We're giving them hope.
Q: Reflecting on your career choice, are you glad you chose the laboratory profession?
Phillips: I am glad I chose this profession. I always knew that I wanted to help people. By working in the laboratory, I'm making a difference behind the scenes. What we do provides the physician with so much information--and it's great to be a part of the process.
Q: Reflecting on your career thus far, would you have predicted that you would be where you are today when you first entered the profession?
Phillips: When I started medical technology school, I didn't think I would end up at St. Jude as quickly as I did. When I was about 12 years old, while riding in the car with my family we drove by the hospital. I thought to myself, "Someday I will work there." And, here I am!
Q: What goals do you have for your career before retirement?
Phillips: Right now, I'm finishing up an online program for my master's degree in public health. I hope to sit for the American Society for Clinical Pathology exams in hematology and safety within the next year. I would love to travel with Doctors Without Borders overseas and do laboratory work or contribute in some way to public health.
Q: Where can you be found on a Friday or Saturday night?
Phillips: Right now, I'm finishing up my MPH and working full time, along with an internship at the Shelby County Health Department 2 days a week. Working weekends means getting to work at 6 a.m., so I'm usually on the couch on Friday and Saturday nights.
Q: If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?
Phillips: I really would love to learn how to roller skate and become a Memphis Roller Derby girl. There's something about skating in a circle wearing arm pads, knee pads and a helmet that seems like so much fun. Plus, the names are so cool. I would love to have "Angelina Rolie" or "Victoria Wreckham" as my Saturday-night alter ego.
Q: Tell us about your pets.
Phillips: My mom likes to say that there's a flashing sign over my house that says "free room and board" and that neighborhood cats are using their paws to tap out directions in Morse code. I have four cats--an 11-year-old white longhair named Baby Boy; a 9-year-old tortie named Phoebe; a 7-year-old calico named Pixie; and the newest addition, a 2-year-old black shorthair named Gizmo. They have their own personalities and are so much fun to live with. Every one of them is almost overweight, because they graze all day and love to eat ice cream with me.
Compiled by Karen Appold (KarenAppold@comcast.net), an editorial consultant based in Royersford, PA. Visit www.WriteNowServices.com for more information.
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