Why you should become a program director
Mallory Janquart, Program Director of Medical Technology and Radiologic Science at the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh
Why did you want to become a program director?
I wanted to become a program director because I really enjoyed teaching. When I was little, I wanted to be a teacher. As I got older and started thinking about college, becoming a teacher just didn't make as much sense to me because I liked science so much. As a Program Director, I get to teach Medical Laboratory Science which is the best of both worlds. I like seeing students catch on to complex topics and develop into competent Medical Laboratory Scientists.
What opportunities arose for you to get to where you are?
I have a very different path than most other professionals that I know in the field. I took a clinic job right out of college, which I quickly came to realize was not the right spot for me. I then took a job as a Quality Assurance specialist at a blood center. This really taught me how to troubleshoot and interpret very complex FDA guidelines. I also got to do internal audits which really helped me develop process improvement skills. I had the opportunity to work on a lot of process improvement projects at the blood center. This gave me a skill set that I could not have developed at my clinic job. I took another position within the blood center as Laboratory Assistant Manager. This position helped me hone the skills necessary to be a good program director. I was able to manage people, projects, a budget, and be held responsible for the decisions I made for my team.
I also taught a phlebotomy course at a local technical college. This helped me build my teaching skills prior to taking on a program director role. Working with students to teach this critical skill was very eye-opening. Some students caught on very quickly with little help, while others really struggle with certain parts and needed a lot of one on one attention.
Having a mentor is one of the biggest reasons I am where I am today. Without my mentor, I would not have known what it took to be a program director or the most efficient way to get there. My mentor was also the one who told me about a part-time opportunity for an Associate Program Director position that helped me break into higher education.
What advice would you offer students wanting to get into education?
If you want to get into higher education, I highly suggest staying active with ASCLS. You meet a lot of great people that can mentor and help you find opportunities that you may not discover on your own. This can be involvement at any level within the organization, however, attending national meetings is really what has helped me the most. I feel that the people you meet at these events all have different experiences to offer that may help guide you to the position you wish to be in.
Having a Master's degree is also needed to become a Program Director. If higher education is something you hope to get into, I would start working on your advanced degree as soon as you can. Getting my advanced degree has really opened doors to many opportunities. It was a long process, but there are ways to earn your degree and still stay working in the field. It is important to develop your skills as a technologist and advance your education.