I finished my clinical chemistry fellowship in June 2013. After taking one month off for moving and traveling, I started in August 2013 as Chief of Clinical Chemistry and Toxicology at a county hospital in San Jose, California. I got thrown right into major projects such as setting up two new main chemistry lines and switching from one LIS to another one. These projects are pretty intimidating by themselves but, fortunately, get accomplished in a larger team. I’m excited and happy to be part of this transition and to get to know all the ins and outs of the lab in the process.
Before taking on this big step in my career, I was trying to read as much as possible on how to prepare for my first job. I found Mark Cervinski’s “Advice for Your First Professional Position,” published in February 2013 in the CouncilChat, very helpful. It took me at least 6 months to get used to the different sections, people, and instruments.
One of the first things I did after moving into the Bay Area was to contact members of our very active AACC local section. I was fortunate to get a very warm welcome by the local section leadership team. A few months after moving to the Bay Area I got the chance to be involved in our local section to serve as a treasurer. For me, it’s a great way to meet my peers and to form friendships in a new location.
Something that took some time to get used to is that now all eyes are focused on me. Many people depend on my decisions and plans. During my fellowship I always had my mentors as a buffer since they had the final word, but now I have to get accustomed to this new role and the pressure that comes with it. My approach was, and is, to talk to everyone in the lab as much and as often as possible. That allows me to get to know them and vice versa. Also, it enables me to get to know what is really going on and learn about the problems. One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had this first year is to be actively involved in our CLS training program. I started a weekly seminar for our students where we discuss the different aspects of clinical chemistry. This is not only very helpful to our students, it also allows me to practice teaching and staying on top of the theory.