Laboratory Professional Careers on Parade Alongside Famous Stars
Monday, March 18, 2013
Jennifer Nagy,MLS(ASCP)CMPACM, and Amber Canoles, MLT(ASCP)CM, recently received top billing in Parade magazine, alongside celebrities Brad Pitt, Anne Hathaway, and Adele.
Their accomplishments? They shared information about their careers and salaries—respectively $83,900 and $39,520—in Parade’s annual list, “What People Earn,” featured in the March 10, 2013, issue.
“Our careers [as pathologists’ assistants] are a vital part of pathology and laboratory medicine. We serve as physician extenders who are trained to handle complex pathology specimens through the full gamut of medical specialties.”
—Rae Rader, MPA, PA(ASCP)CM
Chair, ASCP Board of Certification Board of Governors
As a pathologists’ assistant, Ms. Nagy is enthusiastic about laboratory medicine. “I like seeing something different every day and knowing that I am directly helping a patient,” she says.
Her career began as a medical laboratory scientist, but Ms. Nagy had worked closely with a pathologists’ assistant and loved that work so much that she returned to school to become a pathologists’ assistant.
According to the latest ASCP Wage Survey, pathologists’ assistants are the highest paid among laboratory professionals. This behind-the-scenes career is relatively unknown, which made its recognition in Parade magazine particularly meaningful, according to Rae Rader, MPA, PA(ASCP)CM.
“Our careers are a vital part of pathology and laboratory medicine,” says Ms. Rader, 30-year veteran pathologists’ assistant who serves as the Chair of the ASCP Board of Certification Board of Governors. “We serve as physician extenders who are trained to handle complex pathology specimens through the full gamut of medical specialties.”
For medical laboratory technicians, Ms. Canoles, 23, is very pleased that the publicity spotlights her career choice and makes more people aware that such careers exist in health care.
“I love my career,” says Ms. Canoles, who works at a laboratory in Birmingham, Ala., that specializes in heart disease. “I conduct plaque tests and an immune assay for atherosclerosis. Cholesterol problems are prevalent in my family. I enjoy helping patients uncover these concerns in their own lives, so that they can be proactive in taking charge of their health.”
Ms. Canoles originally planned to study interior design in college. She changed her major to laboratory science, however, when the economy took a turn for the worse a few years ago.
“I wanted a career that was stable and in health care,” she says. “When I was in high school, I always heard about the need for doctors, nurses, and paramedics, but I had never heard about laboratory careers. After looking into it, I found that hospitals have a big demand for laboratory technicians. Career-wise, it was a very good move to make.”
The experiences of Ms. Nagy and Ms. Canoles also reflect the results of the ASCP 2012 Vacancy Survey, released in February 2013, which indicates an increasing demand for medical care as the baby boomer population ages and the volume of laboratory testing increases. The survey showed national vacancy rates of about 7 to 8 percent for (non-supervisory) medical laboratory professionals. Some laboratory supervisors suggest the vacancy rates may be even higher by region or state and especially in rural areas.