16 Feb A Day in the Life: Laboratory Assistant
“Laboratory Assistant” perhaps isn’t a job title that illustrates the whole story of this wide-ranging, critical role within the Laboratory at Olympic Medical Center.
While for some lab assistants, their primary responsibility is to perform blood draws, for others, it is to act as a courier or to handle intake and registration of lab patients.
“The lab assistant position is multifaceted,” says Kari Lessor, a current Laboratory Assistant who has worked for OMC for nearly five years. “This job has allowed me to have conversations with every department, every position, and I’ve gotten to see the ins and outs [of the hospital].”
Olympic Medical Center is currently hiring for the position of Laboratory Assistant. A high school diploma or GED is required for this role. Efficient keyboarding skills and experience with lab and hospital information systems is desirable.
The successful applicant will be able to obtain a Medical Assistant – Phlebotomy Certification while on the job. If acting as a courier, a valid Washington driver’s license and a driving record in compliance with OMC standards are required.
Lessor performs blood draws throughout the hospital and in the outpatient labs, averaging one draw about every 10 minutes. For a day shift, Lessor estimates that she draws about 15-to-25 patients in a morning before returning to the lab around 7:00 a.m. to confirm with the laboratory technician that all the outstanding blood draws are accounted for. Some specimens are sent to the lab through a pneumatic tube delivery system, while others are brought directly to the lab by the person who performed the blood draw.
“You’re seeing a different person every ten minutes,” Lessor said. “…You go draw a mom on the happiest day of her life right after she gave birth and then ten minutes later, you’re in the E.R.…so the resilience to step into a new situation so quickly is paramount.”
Having worked the overnight shift as a lab assistant, Lessor says the work doesn’t slow down in the evening. After the laboratory is closed to outpatients, the focus is solely hospital and emergency department patients.
“It’s an endurance job,” Lessor said. “You’re climbing three flights of stairs to go up OB, and then you’re going back down to the ICU and you’re running over to E.R. You’re constantly moving.”
The lab sees some outpatients on a regular basis, and Lessor says relationships with those patients is one of her favorite parts of the job.
“The interactions with some of those patients is endearing,” Lessor said. “You develop good relationships.”
For Lessor, moving from Wisconsin to the Olympic Peninsula was a dream come true for someone who enjoys outdoor recreation.
“The amount of adventure you can find out here is unlimited if you’re willing to search for it,” Lessor said. “…It’s not many places you can have the mountains and the water right in one place. It’s quite a draw.”
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, Lessor is currently going back to school to become a medical laboratory technologist, a position that analyzes blood draws and can determine, for instance, a person’s blood type or white blood cell count. Olympic Medical Center supports continuing education for its part-time and full-time employees. In Lessor’s case, she is able to complete her clinical rotations at OMC.
The laboratory assistant position at Olympic Medical Center is a great career development opportunity, offering on-the-job training for required certifications while providing the chance to interact with many functions of the hospital and the possibility of advancing into other roles.