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Career Ambassador is as Comfortable in the Classroom as in the Laboratory

Thursday, April 12, 2012

If Sean Tucker, MBA, MLS(ASCP)CM, had not gone into the field of laboratory science, he may very well have become a high school teacher. And that makes his role as a 2011–2012 ASCP Career Ambassador a particularly great fit.

“I like high school students and thinking from their perspective,” he said. “I consider them a pretty exciting crowd.”

“If they like being behind a microscope and performing tests and working with the latest technology, they think it’s a fantastic profession.”
–Sean Tucker, MLS(ASCP)CM
Mr. Tucker, 30, received a bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory science from the University of Kansas in 2007 and went to work as a medical laboratory scientist at the university’s medical center in Kansas City, Kan., upon graduating. Recently, he started a job as a laboratory clinical manager at Shawnee Mission (Kan.) Medical Center. Among other duties, he is charged with helping to improve efficiencies and prepare the laboratory for quality inspections and the electronic information age.

Using an online, cloud-based software called Prezi, Mr. Tucker created an hour-long presentation for the high school students he visits that is technology-driven and interactive. “I throw in a lot of humor, too,” he said. “It keeps them on their toes, especially in the morning.”

Mr. Tucker also brings along tissue samples, microscope slides, and bacterial plates to further engage the students, some of whom are enrolled in integrated biotechnology programs that allow them to focus their junior- and senior-year studies on healthcare professions.

“If they like being behind a microscope and performing tests and working with the latest technology, they think it’s a fantastic profession,” said Mr. Tucker, who stresses how crucial a role those in the laboratory can play. “In the lab, we have an impact on the diagnosis and treatment of the patients—and the statistics support the importance of core laboratory work. Studies show that up to 70 percent of diagnoses come from clinical lab results.”

Mr. Tucker has made eight high school visits so far, and he has three more—including a visit to his alma mater in Hutchinson, Kan.—scheduled for May. His ASCP ambassadorship also has led to other opportunities to promote his profession, including a laboratory job shadowing program between a local high school and the Shawnee Mission Medical Center, and an invitation for him to sit on the advisory board of the Kansas City, Kan., public school system and help with curriculum planning.

Although Mr. Tucker will complete his official work as an ASCP Career Ambassador when the school year ends, he expects his championship of the laboratory professions to live on afterward. “I imagine I’ll keep in contact with the teachers I’ve met and continue to speak to students,” he said.