Learn more about our Member Spotlight of the month, Ms. Lynnette Savaloja from her conversation with Membership Committee Member Dr. Lourdes Ylagan.
Member Spotlight Interview
1. You have been an ASC member for about 13 years now, what are some of your favorite moments during these years at the Annual Scientific Meetings?
Overall, I enjoy seeing familiar faces and sharing with colleagues both personally and professionally. Another favorite moment was at the 2010 Annual Scientific Meeting in Boston when I won the President’s Award. It had been a difficult year and it was completely unexpected.
2. Who or what inspired you to become a cytotechnologist?
My mom is a nurse and I always knew I was interested in the medical field but I was not comfortable with the idea of sticking people with needles, so I did not pursue nursing. During my first year of undergraduate studies, I took a microbiology class and really liked the microscope work. I shared this information with a college recruiter, and she advised me to check out Cytotechnology. I looked into various programs and chose to study at the University of North Dakota. The rest is history!
3. Who was the mentor who helped you the most in your career and how did that person do it?
There are two people that come to mind when I think of mentors. One would be Dr. Michael Stanely. I worked with him at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) in Minneapolis, MN. It was my first cytology job and I learned so much from him; he was a great teacher, which made the learning process seem easy. The second person that comes to mind is Julie Gayken, MT(ASCP), my Laboratory Director who is retiring this week. Julie is a medical technologist who understands the importance of being involved and a national level, as well as the importance of all laboratorians working together as one big lab family. She was very involved in the national scene in the Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA) and served two terms on the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Advisory Committee (CLIAC); she encouraged me to be active in professional organizations and supported my participation in national conferences, poster presentations and workshops. I feel very fortunate to have worked for an employer that supported these activizes, since they had a huge impact on my success, and there are many cytotechnologists who are not offered these opportunities.
4. You are currently an ASC Executive Board member; how did you first become interested in the workings of the Society?
The first Annual Scientific Meeting I attended was in 2000, and I was able to attend again in 2002 in Salt Lake City. I had met Jennifer Clark and Dr. Blair Holladay at a regional meeting in Minnesota earlier that year, and I reconnected with them at the ASC meeting. Dr. Holladay invited me to present a workshop on molecular diagnostics and later, Jennifer Clark and Cindy Steele nominated me as Chair of CAC (Cytotechnology Advisory Committee). Since then I have attendee every ASC annual meeting and have been an active member of the organization.
5. What would you say to new Cytotechnologist members of the ASC starting out their careers in Cytology?
Get involved in the ASC and be a member of the listserv, which provides timely, helpful conversations that keep you informed on what’s going on in our professional world. Make connections with people from different regions, because they will have different professional perspectives. Those relationships will help you address and troubleshoot issues in your own lab.
6. How has the profession of Cytotechnology changed during your career and what advice would you give someone starting out in this field?
When I started in 1997, liquid-based Pap testing was just hitting the market ( I trained on all conventional slides). By 2003, my lab had converted to all liquid-based Pap testing and HPV reflex testing. This started the change from the Pap test as bread and butter to having the non-GYNs and FNAs increasing significantly. FNA adequacy is a bigger focus for Cytotechnologists than it was 10 years ago. All professions will evolve, not matter the industry, and cytology is no exception. Successful professionals will adaptable and be resourceful as changes occur, so they are prepared for the future needs of their professions.
7. What are some of the most memorable events in the lab that taught you the most?
When I was at HCMC, I was exposed to tumor boards, where the entire medical team – the radiologists, pathologists, oncologists and study nurses – discussed the proper follow up for our patients. This experience really hit home to me how important every person who comes in contact with a patient or their samples is integral to the patient’s care. It made me have a better appreciation and pride in my job and my role.
8. With the decreasing number of Schools of Cytotechnology, do you see that production will ever catch up with demand for the field?
I think that the ASC in collaboration with ASCP is doing a great job in trying to address that issue with the ASC/ASCP Workgroup on Emerging Roles for Cytotechnologists. Although it is a hard question to answer, these organizations along with the CPRC, are working hard to get the information we need to make informed, data driven decisions to help the profession move forward. The demand will be different. Our role is to determine what that demand is and make sure our schools have the curriculum to meet that demand.