Medical Technologist Merges Scientific Accuracy and Personal Care
By Joan Fox Rose, MA, RN, contributor
Working in medical technology requires good organizational skills and attention to detail, according to Virginia Humke, MT (ASCP), a travel medical technologist who works with Med Travelers. But there is so much more to it.
“Lab work isn’t just about collecting and processing specimens and samples, because each specimen is a part of a patient and family. Lab work is about people. And for some people, coming to the lab is a social visit, too,” Humke said.
During her 30-year career, Humke has had a wide variety of work experience, in large and small hospitals and in general and specialty clinics. So, when the call came to join Med Travelers, an AMN Healthcare company, “The timing was perfect; I was ready, and I’m glad Med Travelers chose me,” she said.
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Currently her assignment is at the Des Moines-based, 370-bed Iowa Methodist Medical Center where she works in the core diagnostic lab. “Although I’ve enjoyed all of my assignments, I especially like working at a medical center where I have even more opportunities to learn and grow,” she pointed out.
Medical technologists are required to perform multiple, often complex medical tests with precision and accuracy, and be competent in reporting the data. Knowledge, experience and the ability to focus on each step of a procedure are hallmarks of quality lab services, Humke explained. “Our goal is to be so accurate that if one of us drops dead while performing a procedure, a colleague can complete it without a problem.”
Travels with Molly
This med tech travels with her dog, Molly, a boxer mix, companion and runner. “The first thing we do when reaching our destination is to find a dog park where Molly can run,” Humke said. So far, their favorite locations are in Ohio, New Hampshire, and Vermont, plus other states close enough for sightseeing.
“Columbus, Ohio, has the best of both worlds: big city, open plains and gorgeous foliage,” Humke said. “New Hampshire and Vermont have backroads framed by tall, thin pine trees: peaceful settings that get you from one town to another. Vermont is famous for its historic covered bridges, and the Boston Harbor includes an old building that played a part in the tea party raid and the start of the Revolutionary War.”
Humke advised allied travelers to be aware of driving laws and other state and local laws that may apply in their assignment locations.
The symbolism of a box of crayons
One of the things that has stuck with Humke from her medical technologist travel jobs is the box of Crayola crayons that sat on a shelf in Don Wahl’s office at the Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. Wahl is a laboratory manager, and he kept the crayons there to remind him and his lab staff that, like crayons, people are colored differently and may have personality quirks and idiosyncrasies that we don’t understand and perhaps don’t like.
Wahl was an inspiration in many ways. “I learned so much from Don about getting along well with people, no matter how quirky they may be,” Humke said, adding, “Like crayons, our colors are different but we meld together to make a difference in patients’ lives.”
Support from her recruiter
Humke’s allied health recruiter has also offered inspiration and support in her career, helping her connect with the right jobs and achieve successful outcomes. “Justin Meeks, my recruiter, has been like a parent to me,” Humke said. “He keeps in touch with me, gets back to me right away when I need answers or have problems and generally takes care of me; I like his approach and feel comfortable working with him.”
Working successfully with a recruiter requires cooperation and mutual trust, and recruiters are looking for travelers who combine their clinical skills with a good attitude, flexibility when considering assignments and the ability to get along with others.
On a personal note
As an allied traveler, Humke can sometimes arrange assignments that are close to family and friends, and she plans her schedule to allow trips home to Rapid City, S.D., between jobs. She enjoys spending quality time with her two adult sons, Nick and Davis, and looks forward to her future role as child minder and dog sitter.
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