Celebrating 2014 Laboratory Professionals’ Week
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
One Teacher’s Inspiration Opens Doors to a Rewarding Career in the Lab
Never underestimate the impact a teacher can have on a student.
That’s what Sally S. Cherry, BS, MT(ASCP), of Berlin, Md., learned 45 years ago, when her high school biology teacher handed her student a career brochure from ASCP. Little did she realize her teacher’s suggestion would spark a passion, leading to a lifelong career in the medical laboratory profession.
“She knew I loved biology and suggested I think about becoming a laboratory professional,” Ms. Cherry, who is celebrating 40 years as a medical laboratory professional.
From a shy young girl, Ms. Cherry grew into a confident, accomplished professional, working in medical research, laboratory administration, public health, teaching, and consulting. She has also traveled widely around the globe to provide medical laboratory training to healthcare providers in Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, and Turkey.
“When I do the training, I go to the clinics and see the patients and I hear the stories. It is very rewarding. My job is to help the physicians and nurses understand why laboratory professionals perform certain diagnostic tests. We are one part of the overall puzzle.”
—Sally S. Cherry, BS, MT(ASCP)
“When I do the training, I go to the clinics and see the patients and I hear the stories,” she explains. “It is very rewarding. My job is to help the physicians and nurses understand why laboratory professionals perform certain diagnostic tests. We are one part of the overall puzzle.”
Ms. Cherry began her career at the Carnegie Institution of Washington - Department of Embryology in Baltimore, performing laboratory research. Later, she worked as a medical technologist in a hospital bacteriology laboratory in Baltimore, while pursuing a master’s degree in community health.
The untimely death of a 17-year-old Baltimore girl from a disseminated gonococcal infection in the early 1970s ignited her passion for public health and interest in setting up accredited STD lab in community clinics. “At the time, the city’s public health clinics provided limited laboratory services for the diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs),” she recalls.
In 1978, Baltimore City Health Department began expanding its program, and she landed a job within the Bureau of Disease Control, focusing on STD/STI laboratory methods, STD/STI laboratory training, and infectious diseases. In the early 1980s, Ms. Cherry served as one of three planners for the Baltimore City Health Department’s BDC Laboratory. Twelve years later, she had an opportunity to provide laboratory assessment and training services in Turkey, the launch of her international consulting work to strengthen medical laboratories in resource limited countries.
Today, she provides laboratory consulting and training services for the STD/HIV Prevention Training Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, which is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On her website, Ms. Cherry has a link, “Ms. Bug Lady,” where she provides internet-based information pertaining to the medical laboratory and various infectious diseases, as well as virtual training courses, and information regarding careers in the profession.
“The purpose of this is to expand access to resources and training,” Ms. Cherry says. “The medical laboratory is always changing, and we are always learning.”
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