Michener alumna uses skills gained in her program to support colleagues during pandemic

Health care workers were plunged into a crisis in 2020 when the pandemic reached North America, and as the pandemic evolved, many were forced to make major shifts in their roles.

Jennifer Snowdon, a 2014 graduate of Michener’s Medical Laboratory Science program, experienced this shift firsthand.

As the Regional Manager of Laboratory Quality Assurance and Point of Care Testing at Loyola Medicine, a hospital network in Illinois, Jennifer’s team conducted 150,000 COVID tests over a one-year period. With such a high volume of testing, the team had to adapt their workflow constantly to accommodate the waves of the pandemic and the changing needs of each department in the hospital – all while pivoting at a moment’s notice.

“There was a lot of uncertainty in the beginning and scrambling to figure out what to do next,” says Jennifer. “We didn’t have the supplies to accommodate this amount of testing, so we started problem solving on the spot with an incredibly quick turnaround.”

To keep up with the testing demands and to work efficiently with the limited supplies they had, the lab team implemented six different methods of COVID testing. Asymptomatic surgical patients, for example, needed rapid testing before a procedure, but patients who were admitted into the hospital needed the most sensitive testing to avoid widespread COVID infection.

“The Emergency Department was hit hard, and we created a new workflow just to accommodate that department,” says Jennifer. “We had to strategize and create a whole algorithm to make sure the right people were getting tested at the right time.”

As a manager of laboratory quality in a major hospital network, Jennifer’s role became crucial in the pandemic. Her leadership skills allowed her to interact and liaise quickly between many departments at once, and she says her Michener training made her a good fit for this role.

“In my program, there was a focus on leadership and interdisciplinary skills, and I see every day how relevant this is,” she says. “Other departments know they can contact me any time if there’s an issue and I can help solve those problems.”

Over a year into the pandemic, Jennifer’s team has shifted its focus again, but this time their testing is less reactive. “We’re now working on getting our community back to work and back on campus.”