American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
April 2005 Mentor of the Month Interview: Jocelyn Hicks
Biography
  1. What is your job title and affiliation?
  2. Briefly tell us about your educational and career background.
  3. What are your Board certifications?
  4. With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
  5. Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself.
Career
  1. What area(s) do you specialize in?
  2. What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
  3. What are your clinical and research interests?
  4. What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
  5. Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
  6. What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
  7. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
  8. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
  9. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
  10. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
  11. Describe how you have been able to give back or contribute to the organizations and the profession in general through your involvement in AACC.
  12. How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
  13. Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
Biography
  1. What is your job title and affiliation?
    I am currently self-employed as the President of my own company; JMBH Associates, consultants in health care management.
  2. Briefly tell us about your educational and career background.
    I received a BSc in Physiology (Honours) from the University of London, and an MSc in Biochemistry from the same University. I received a PhD in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University School of Medicine. After my PhD, I became Director of Clinical Chemistry at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC. At the same Institution, I then became Chair of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, then Director of Clinical Support Services, then Executive Director of Complex Diseases, and a member of the Executive Management team of the hospital. Even with these latter jobs, I remained as Chair of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. I retired from Children's Hospital after 31 years, and then became the Chief Operating Officer for Genetics and Identity services at the Genetics and IVF Institute in Fairfax Virginia. I now run my own business.
  3. What are your Board certifications?
    I am certified as a Clinical Chemist by the National Registry for Chemistry, I am certified by the American Board of Bioanalysis, and as High Complexity Laboratory Director. I also have my Fellowship of The Royal College of Pathologists in the UK.
  4. With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
    I am involved with the AACC and the IFCC, and belong to several other associations.
  5. Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself:
    • Family
      I have a wonderful husband.
    • Favorite activities/hobbies
      I play bridge, exercise, travel, and love cooking and entertaining in my home.
    • Favorite places you have traveled
      I really do not have one favorite, but I like London, Paris, Italy and many places in the Far East. I would like to know more of South America.
    • Favorite book/movie
      A difficult question. Favorite book is probably Shakespeare's Sonnets, and favorite movies were The Whale Rider, Million Dollar Baby and Ray.
    • Most fun/adventurous thing you’ve ever done
      A balloon ride over Napa Valley, and going down a water chute with sharks on either side in my late fifties!
Career
  1. What area(s) do you specialize in?
    Pediatric Clinical Chemistry, Pediatric Reference ranges, Strategic and Financial Planning
  2. What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
    Serendipity and a real need in the field.
  3. What are your clinical and research interests?
    My research efforts were often in methodologies, such as a method for measuring lead in micro quantities of blood, a better method for measuring serum iron with Dr Donald Young, and I spent a lot of time working on reference methods in Pediatric Laboratory Medicine, together with Dr. Steven Soldin.
  4. What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
    Pediatric reference values and helping developing countries understand Quality Control and aspects of improving the diagnosis of Metabolic Diseases. I am also proud of my publications and books, especially The Directory of Rare Analyses, which I conceived very early in my career when I was in my thirties. I think another contribution I made was mentoring young scientists.
  5. Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
    No, I love it.
  6. What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
    Being Chair of the Publications Division and being President of AACC, and Treasurer of IFCC. These were both rewarding and challenging. Also rewarding was receiving three of AACC's Awards, many awards from sections and being made an honorary member of the UK, Portuguese, Israeli, and Egyptian societies or associations. Again, seeing people who worked for me succeed was very rewarding. Dr. Joseph Campos, whom I hired, became the first Dean of the American College of Microbiology.
  7. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
    It was always thinking about the helping the patient.
  8. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
    More molecular diagnostics, more genomics, more pre-gestational diagnosis, and hopefully more to help the ever-expanding geriatric population.
  9. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
    Cost containment, fewer positions as hospitals try to do more with less, the need for cross training in other disciplines such as Microbiology or Financial Management.
  10. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
    I would suggest getting more qualifications. For example, someone trained in Microbiology and Clinical Chemistry would be extremely valuable. Learn about financial management and/or management in general. I would look for new opportunities. For example, there is a huge need for geriatric reference ranges. I also set myself the goal of understanding why tests were ordered by clinicians. I went on work rounds with the residents for several days per week for many years. I was made an honorary Fellow of Neonatology. I also attended Grand Rounds and Professorial Rounds every week. I met with the Chief residents on a bi-weekly basis.
  11. Describe how you have been able to give back or contribute to the organizations and the profession in general through your involvement in AACC.
    I have contributed financially to the Van Slyke Foundation to help young people with their careers, travel to meetings, and with small research grants. I have done a lot of teaching overseas. I have always tried to mentor those who have worked with me to realize their full potential. I have encouraged outstanding technologists to get PhD or MD degrees. My proudest achievement was to see a Technician without a Bachelor's degree, go back to school and get her BS and master's degrees. She told me she could not do it. I saw her potential, and really pushed her!
  12. How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
    Be visible, volunteer. Develop an area of expertise. Dr Nader Rifai, who worked with me many years ago, developed an interest in Lipids. He is now considered one of the experts in the field. Try to be a visionary.
  13. Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
    Love what you do, try to help the patient, try to encourage others, work hard! Again, find a niche in the field for yourself.