Cindy Cambron MT (ASCP), CLS (MB)
After earning a bachelorâ€™s degree in medical technology in 1977 and working as a generalist in a hospital in New Orleans for several years, I decided to focus my full attention on raising our 4 children. 25 years later, our youngest son left for college and I felt it was time to re-enter the work force. The field of medical technology had changed significantly over the years, so I enrolled in the Molecular Diagnostics program at the UT Health Science Center to expand my MT degree. In 2006, after completing one semester of classroom work along with a 7-month internship, I passed the NCA registry examination required for certification in molecular biology. Returning to school was indeed challenging, but the faculty and administration were very helpful and encouraging. The courses I took that year, notably hematology and immunology, have been extremely helpful in my new research and development position at SA Scientific in San Antonio. SA Scientific develops and produces immunochromatographic diagnostic assays for the clinical laboratory. The background knowledge I acquired as a medical technologist supplemented by the didactic work at the UT Health Science Center has proven to be invaluable. Actually, my medical technology training was a key factor in being considered for employment at SA Scientific.
The education I received at the UT Health Science Center helped renew my self-confidence and provided the necessary tools to successfully work at a job I truly enjoy. A degree in medical technology from the UT Health Science Center not only prepares you for employment in a clinical laboratory but also opens doors to many other professions in the medical and scientific field.
In December 1993, I received a Bachelor-joint degree in Clinical Laboratory Science from the UT Health Science Center and UTSA. That fall was the first class to graduate with a degree in Clinical Laboratory Science where previously the degree name was Medical Technology. This was a new step in the field of Clinical Pathology.
I began working full time in the field of Transfusion Medicine at Santa Rosa Hospital-Downtown as a Medical Technologist. Because of my interest and passion in this field, I decided to pursue my interest in SBB School (Specialist in Blood Banking) in Orlando, FL, which some describe as Stress Beyond Belief.
After completing my certificate in SBB, I had the opportunity to work as a QA-Manufacturer Manager at the presently known company, Ortho-Micro Typing System (MTS Gel Card) in Pompano Beach, Florida. The experience I gained in my role as QA Manager proved to be vital in preparing me for my future endeavors.
About a year later, I found myself back in Good-Ole SA as the supervisor of the Special Procedures Laboratory working for the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center (Now QualTex Laboratories). In the laboratory, we provide Immunohematology services to Dialysis Centers, hospitals throughout the state of Texas, and Plasma Centers throughout the country. We are also responsible for instructing MLT, MT, Residences and SBB students. In addition, we are genotyping (DNA technology) our Blood Donors for (31) RBC antigens, freezing aliquots of rare cells and will be performing HLA typing on our Apheresis donors platelets. With these and other upcoming projects I found myself celebrating 10 years of service at STBTC. Like they say, time flies when you're having fun.
The field of Clinical Laboratory Science has given me many opportunities that include traveling to Mexico city, Mexico; San Salvador, El Salvador; Boston, MA; Orlando and Pompano Beach, FL; San Jose, CA; and Phoenix, AR. I had the opportunity to contribute and become involved in the creation of the SBB website and SBB School. I studied and was accepted to be an AABB assessor; I am an Adjunct Professor for the UT Health Science Center. I have also populated tables in different transfusion LIS systems. I am a member of different professional societies to include: ASCP, ASQ, AABB, and ASCLS.
A CLS degree provides you with many opportunities and exciting avenues to take in your career path. It has provided me with numerous challenges that have led me to encounter new technologies and industry trends.
I began my career as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist in 1993 as a graduate from Southwest Texas State University, currently known as Texas State University. My first job came as the weekend technologist Â in Comanche, Texas taking 60 hours of call. I did it all—phlebotomy,Â hematology, clinical chemistry, and even blood bank!Â
After working in Comanche for about a year, I was hired as the night technologist at Central Texas Medical Center in San Marcos.Â I was fortunate enough to work in this position for a year and a half as a generalist and then I was asked to be the Clinical Chemistry Supervisor.Â I was so happy to be offered this opportunity. I had finally worked my way up to be a day shift technologist ! While in this new role, I had the responsibility of not only evaluating and setting up new instruments, maintaining a budget, and training new employees as well as instructing Clinical Laboratory Science students.
After serving in the supervisory capacity for several years, I became interested in pursuing a masterâ€™s degree in toxicology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. I had no idea at the time what I was going to do with that degree, but I knew that I wanted it. Many people told me that I was foolish for giving up my good supervisory job and for driving to San Antonio every day for class.Â
Part of the toxicology programÂ is a 5 week internship at the Bexar County Medical Examinerâ€™s Toxicology Laboratory.Â Â After my first day of training, I was captivated!Â I knew that this was exactly where I wanted to be. During my time as an intern, I was fortunate enough to become involved in a research project of the Chief Toxicologist that led to my thesis topic. Â In the spring of 2003, I successfully completed and defended my thesis, and graduated with a masterâ€™s degree in toxicology.Â Luckily, a position for a toxicology chemist opened up in the fall of 2003 at the Medical Examinerâ€™s Office and I was hired.Â Â After working there for three years and gaining Â theÂ necessary experience, I took and passed the American Board of Forensic Toxicology Specialist exam in February of 2007.
Ultimately, I am very happy that I made the decision to go back to school and pursue a masterâ€™s degree from the Health Science Center. I enjoy my job very much and find satisfaction in being a Clinical Laboratory Scientist as well as supervising the new students who rotate through our laboratory. Â I would highly encourage other students to pursue a career in this field.
After several years of working as a blood bank clinical laboratory scientist, I decided to further my education. I chose the Masters program in Clinical Laboratory Science at the UT Health Science Center because it was the only Masters offered in Texas that related to my current profession. I also researched the faculty involved with the program and found very knowledgeable, experienced and active professionals. I felt not only would I receive a great education but also make lifelong network connections. Little did I know how true this statement would be in just a few short years.
After graduating, I returned to M.D. Anderson Cancer Centerâ€™s Transfusion Services to continue my professional growth. I was instrumental in setting up the Nucleic Acid Testing Laboratory in the Transfusion Services. This task involved designing, validating, and testing all blood components in a one-month time frame. The skills I learned from the UT Health Science Center program were critical to the development of the skills I needed for this assignment. Shortly afterwards, I accepted the position as Education Coordinator of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program. I currently run the day to day operations of the program including but not limited to teaching clinical chemistry and immunohematology didactic courses and student laboratories, scheduling lectures, and overseeing clinical rotations. I now train future CLS professionals as do my UT Health Science Center mentors.
As noted before the networking connections played and still play a critical role in my current and future professional life. I am currently the President-Elect for the Texas Association for Clinical Laboratory Science. In this position, as well, as my previous board position, I have had the great opportunity to work with Dr. Smith and Dr. McKenzie on a professional level to get the word out about the CLS profession. Not only were they great professors but excellent mentors in helping me grow professionally.