Laboratory Staff Enhance Education Thanks To Scholarships

Laboratory staff at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre were recently presented with scholarships for continuing education thanks to an Endowment Fund created in memory of Dr. Douglas Rathbone, a well-known Thunder Bay physician. This year’s recipients are (l-r), Crystal Fisher, Rachel Burke, Lyl Stavropoulos and Darran O’Flaherty. They are celebrated by Brad Leishman (left) and Georgia Carr (right).

For the third year in a row, laboratory staff at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre have the opportunity to pursue further education thanks to scholarships funded by the Dr. Douglas Rathbone Scholarship Fund.

Created thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Lyla Rathbone and through memorial gifts made in Dr. Rathbone’s honour, the Endowment Fund was established to provide scholarships to laboratory staff for continuing education. Dr. Rathbone was a well-known and respected physician; most fondly remembered in the community as the coroner.

This year’s recipients include: Lyl Stavropoulos, Program Coordinator; Rachel Burke, Lab Technician III/IV; Darran O’Flaherty, Medical Laboratory Technologist and Crystal Fisher, Clerk III. Each recipient was delighted to be chosen and are each excited about the prospect of advancing his or her education.

For Stavropoulous, the opportunity to expand her knowledge of Point-of-care-testing is important to her role in the Lab, as she oversees this program. “We are very isolated geographically with limited resources,” she said. “I want to be sure that our Hospital has an effective Point-of-case-testing program. It’s a challenge because there isn’t a lot of expertise in this area and other hospitals in our region look to us to provide guidance. I feel I need as much education as possible to make critical decisions and I’m very thankful for the opportunity this scholarship has provided to allow me to further my education.”

Also grateful for the scholarship is Burke who is choosing to expand her training in Forensic Autopsy Techniques. “I have about 18 years of autopsy experience, however, I’m eager to learn new techniques as well as train with a Forensic Pathologist,” she said. Burke will travel to the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service in Toronto to receive very specialized training in her field. “This career has been very fast-paced and interesting and I’m always looking to learn more. I think that additional knowledge would be beneficial not just to me, but for our Hospital overall, especially if we’re able to recruit a Forensic Pathologist to work with us here in Thunder Bay.”

O’Flaherty is working towards enhancing his leadership skills and plans to take courses in Quality Control as well as Laboratory Management. “I’m hoping that by developing my skills I can take on more responsibility in the Lab, and ultimately make positive changes that help enhance patient and family centre care,” he said.

Fisher also has her sights set on leadership/management courses. “The medical field wasn’t my choice – it came to me,” she said. “My love and compassion for helping others has always been a part of me, but a fear of hospitals stopped me from pursuing a career in the medical field. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I would love to continue my career in the Lab and hope to, one day, become part of the management team here. I’m hoping that the courses I choose can help me become a great leader; someone that my peers will feel confident in talking with.”

Georgia Carr, the Manager, Clinical Laboratory is thrilled that four recipients were chosen this year to receive the scholarships. “This ongoing scholarship program, now in its third year, has been so beneficial for the Lab,” she said. “Our past recipients have been very grateful for the opportunity to continue to improve and bring back what they’ve learned to the rest of our team. I’m so excited for this year’s recipients as they each have specific goals in mind and it’s wonderful to be able to support them in their ongoing training.”