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Express Testing’s Top Shelf
A select group masters the intricacies of specialized blood work.


Express testers extraordinaire: Clockwise: Kermitt Wilson, Latoya Washington, Naldese Greene, Roxanne Griffin, Natira Davis, Sinithia Drake. Not pictured: Lucille Johnson, Ruby Bullock, Tenia Boykin, Beatrice Norteye.

Twenty-six-year-old Latoya Washington considers herself a late bloomer.  Pregnant at 17, she received her diploma late, with virtually no support from her family.  The only member of her family to graduate from high school, Washington says her mother’s homelessness and lack of support were constant struggles. “But,” she says, “I was willing to do whatever was necessary to provide a bright future for my daughter and me.” That tenacity helped her land a job at Johns Hopkins in Express Testing.   

Washington’s supervisor, Kermitt Wilson, and Clinical Safety and Training Coordinator Lucille Johnson saw the right combination of qualities in their new hire. Together they selected Washington for special training as a clinical specimen technologist II. The job requires not only technical know-how but also strong interpersonal skills—important in performing such tasks as venipunctures and cystic fibrosis sweat tests. “Washington demonstrated both traits every day, despite her personal troubles,” says Wilson.

In 2006, Washington and the seven other handpicked lab techs began the CSTII certification training program, which was subsidized entirely by the department. The training covered everything from phlebotomy fundamentals and protocols to specialized pediatric testing. The group met once a week, for five weeks, under Johnson’s direction. “They already possessed the basic skills,” says Wilson. “The training is designed to boost their morale, and to master the intricacies of a variety of tests.” All eight lab techs, he notes, successfully completed training and have performed well since assuming their expanded roles. “I consider them our top shelf in Express Testing,” he adds.

Ruby Bullock, whose career at Hopkins began in 1988, says the training has honed her skills and reminds her that the opportunities at Hopkins are “endless.” Some have advanced their careers significantly thanks to the CSTII training. Tenia Boykin, for example, completed the LINC program (Ladders In Nursing Careers) and is now a registered nurse at Johns Hopkins Bayview. And Roxanne Griffin is a lead technologist in Express Testing, responsible for scheduling and maintaining smooth evening operations in the department. The remaining diploma recipients are entrusted with a variety of tasks, such as order entry bar coding, electrocardiography, elite patient testing and specialized pediatric testing.

As for Washington, she credits Johns Hopkins for giving her a chance to prove herself. “Overcoming my personal hardships made me who I am today,” she says, “But if it weren’t for Hopkins’ support, I might not have succeeded.”

— Kelli Pope



Johns Hopkins Medicine

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