Working Behind the Scenes on the Pandemic Frontline
From who can get a test, where they can get a test, how long until test results are received and what are the aggregate results of those tests, there is a lot of emphasis on medical testing these days. What was once a behind-the-scenes field of medicine has been thrust into the limelight during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
For technologists like Courtney Wogan, performing medical tests is just another day at the office. She is a medical laboratory scientist at Licking Memorial Hospital (LMH). Within the microbiology area of LMH Laboratory, Wogan is one of six employees who together run about 50 tests per day. In total, they have completed more than 13,000 COVID-19 tests since the beginning of the pandemic.
Working with disease-causing microorganisms wasn’t always her plan. She discovered the field of medical laboratory science through an aptitude test taken during her first semester at Ohio State Newark. Back then she was a pre-med student sitting in a required university survey course. It wasn’t until two years later, at which time she was having second thoughts about medical school, that she considered the results and changed majors. After completing three years at Ohio State Newark, Wogan transitioned to the Columbus campus to complete a bachelor’s degree in medical technology in 2005.
“It was really Ohio State Newark that helped guide me,” she affirmed. “I wanted to go to Ohio State Newark as long as I could. I loved the smaller class size; it made it easier to get in touch with professors. They were personable, really involved and always available to help.”
During her final quarter, the university placed Wogan in a clinical rotation at LMH. After graduation, she received a full-time position and has worked there since. Though she’s feeling the heat of the spotlight — the demand for COVID-19 tests has increased her workload this year — she remains certain that she chose the right profession. Even in an international health crisis.
“I love what I do,” she said describing that when a patient has an infection, her role is to identify the bacteria causing it. Her results inform the doctors which antibiotics are the best match to treat the patient’s ailment. “The hands-on, the critical thinking, the troubleshooting — I love being able to figure out what’s causing the patient’s symptoms.”