Potential in a Pandemic
By: Cheyenne Reyes
COVID-19 has hit the United States like a brick. While many do not understand the importance of the laboratory in times like these, all of us in the laboratory profession cannot help but think about the struggle that many of our peers are facing. SARS-CoV-2 has created a whirlwind of confusion, fear, and general malaise. However, it has also blown open many doors to opportunity.
As a new graduate, I expected to be working full-time as a generalist for at least 2 years, but when the pandemic started to hit home, I realized I wanted to be more directly involved in the fight against this virus. As clinics began to close and routine visits became virtual, our lab slowed down significantly. Management began asking people to take days off and use our GPT. Eventually, this turned into a mandate. I knew that this situation was getting worse, which also meant that there were laboratory professionals somewhere who were overwhelmed in testing. I told my laboratory manager that I was willing to travel wherever the hospital system needed me so that I could help. An opportunity about 2 hours away presented itself. Within a week, I was set up in a hotel and training on the Abbott m2000 system.
While it was intimidating to leave a lab that I had only just started getting familiar with, I am so thankful to have the opportunity to be an integral part of the pandemic. I never would have imagined that I would be working in a molecular laboratory within a year of graduation, but thanks to SARS-CoV-2, I am faced with new job opportunities and new passions for virology.
Is it overwhelming when hundreds of swabs are dropped off at once? Yes. Is it frustrating to see some samples sit in a fridge for over 48 hours when we have hospital samples that take priority? Yes. Does it feel never-ending? Absolutely. Have I felt invigorated by the passion and care that I see in my fellow COVID-19 lab professionals? More than ever.
The COVID-19 pandemic is bewildering and terrifying, but it has also brought forth the importance of teamwork, love for our fellow healthcare professionals, and opportunity to show the world just what Medical Laboratory Science is about. Do not let fear take away the vigor and passion that comes with new opportunity.