Graduate Profiles: Donna Shaw
Donna had been working in the clincial laboratory for 25 years when a desire to teach brought her to the University of Maryland to pursue a degree in Medical Technology. "When I was younger, I didn’t have the funds for a college education, but I always wanted to teach," she says. "Once I got into clinical lab work, I thought, ’Wouldn’t it be great if I could teach others how to do this?’ We have such a shortage of medical technologists right now, and so many of the schools are closing."
Her academic experiences at the Department of Medical and Research Technology helped her reach her goal. "I was fortunate. Upon completion of the Bachelor’s program at DMRT, I was offered a position as a graduate teaching assistant, which allowed me to continue my education in the Masters program," Donna explains. "I received tuition, plus a stipend, which for me was a wonderful opportunity." Donna was also the recipient of both the ASCP and Alpha Mu Tau Fraternity scholarships.
Despite her many years in the laboratory, Donna admits the program was a challenge. "I was surprised at how much was expected in such a short amount of time," she says. "It requires a lot of study time and is a very time-consuming program. You have classes in the morning, until about noon, and then you’re in the student lab in the afternoon applying the clinical side of things."
Donna did not have a job during her undergraduate years, so she could devote herself full-time to her studies, but other members of her graduating class did both. She worked as a teaching assistant while earning her Masters degree, which proved an invaluable part of her career development. Upon completing her Masters, she was hired by the University of Maryland as a full-time instructor for the DMRT program.
She considers her years of training at DMRT time well spent. "Having been out there and worked in the field, I know how well the program and the faculty really do prepare you," she says. "You get quite a bit of hands-on experience. Since the Medical Center is right on campus, we could go to the hospital and see demonstrations of the precision instruments we were learning about and see the clinical applications of the technology, which made it more meaningful. The faculty are also very good at preparing students for the professional part of it, by teaching professionalism and ethics, as well as how to network with colleagues and professional organizations. The program really surpassed my expectations."
Donna would highly recommend a degree in medical technology to anyone considering a medical career. "Medical laboratory science is a great field to work in. It's also great preparation for medical and physician assistant school and other kinds of professional medical programs you can go into, because you actually study medicine, rather than a straight biology degree where you wouldn’t have the clinical experience and patient interaction," she explains. "Out of my graduating class, two have gone on to medical school, one to training as a pathology assistant, and two of us went on to Masters of Science degrees through DMRT. So it is a stepping stone for many people."