Pat Tille Ph.D. MT(ASCP) FACSC
Region V Director

In 1992, as a young professional I began a journey in medical laboratory science. As a student with a degree in biological science, I was unsure of what I wanted to pursue beyond my undergraduate degree. Like many of my colleagues and friends, I stumbled upon “medical technology” when one of our four children was hospitalized with croup.  As a medical laboratory scientist I fell in love with microbiology.  

Upon completing my clinical experience, there were too many laboratory professionals in the area where I was seeking employment. I was fortunate to be the only student from my class hired at the facility where I had trained for my clinical experience. The position was a float, in other words the shifts varied sometimes from nights, to days to evening shift within a 72-hour period. As a mother of 4 children, this was an impossible schedule, and something had to change.  

As I was looking for other opportunities to utilize my valuable knowledge and skills I stumbled upon a research associate position at the nearby medical school.  After applying for the position, I received a phone call from the professor. The conversation was short, but basically he asked me to come down and look at going to graduate school. At the time I was like many other undergraduates and unaware of the opportunities for teaching and research stipends while working on an advanced degree. I was admitted to graduate school and completed a Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Health Sciences, with an emphasis on microbial genetics. 

Following my graduate school experience, I have been able to teach in basic science programs and clinical programs. It is clear that my passion is basic science applied to the technology and what I call the “art” of clinical practice.  As a practicing professional I have had the opportunity to speak at numerous state, regional and national events as well as publish in a variety of scientific journals, author a chapter in a colleague’s textbook, and author a major diagnostic microbiology textbook. I have been mentored by some of the most amazing individuals. Unfortunately, they are too numerous to mention, but they know who they are! And how did this happen to someone who lives in the Midwestern United States?

What is missing from this story is the fact that I also began my career and professional relationship with ASCLS in 1992. I became the ASCLS-South Dakota student forum representative and moved on to become the Region V student forum representative.  I have been fortunate to network with so many amazing colleagues and professionals who have provided me with opportunities to speak, collaborate on publications and be recognized multiple times by my peers. I have also had the opportunity to mentor and provide opportunities for junior members and my peers, to give back to them what others have done for me. ASCLS provides a very unique opportunity for anyone to grow and expand his/her scope of influence through colleagues and volunteer opportunities. My education gave me the skills and knowledge needed to begin my career, but ASCLS provided me with the opportunities to become a professional.  

I simply want to illustrate through my experience,that no matter where you are in your laboratory science career, there is always time to become and grow as a professional. It does not matter if you are a traditional college graduate, a single mom, or a mom with four kids and a husband, the opportunity is there. It does not happen overnight and it takes hard work. But if you are passionate and willing, the sky is the limit for you! So grab on to a peer mentor, or just someone you have met at a local, regional or national meeting and ask what you can do, it will be one of the greatest things that could ever happen to you.  And remember #IAM ASCLS #LAB4LIFE!