As a Medical Lab Scientist at one of the world’s leading healthcare organizations with special expertise in treatment, training and quarantine methods for infectious diseases, Bellevue University alum Megan Jorgensen is working behind the scenes to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
An MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree wasn’t part of Osmond, Nebraska, native Megan Jorgensen’s plan for a rewarding and fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. “Advanced Accounting and Management courses are not my cup of tea,” said Jorgensen, whose interest in the life sciences goes back to her childhood, growing up on the family farm in northeast Nebraska.
Inspired and mentored by “Mr. Pavlik,”—Greg Pavlik, her high school science teacher—Jorgensen cultivated a love for biology, anatomy, and lab science and pursued a career combining all those interests. She earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Medical Laboratory Science degree from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa, then worked two years as a Clinical Lab Scientist at a Sioux City hospital before accepting a Medical Laboratory Scientist position at the Omaha-based Nebraska Medicine in 2009.
While lab work remains her first love, she completed an MBA with a Healthcare Concentration at Bellevue University in 2019 to position herself for future career advancement opportunities. “I want to be prepared to move beyond the bench (lab work) into management ranks,” said Jorgensen, a 34-year-old wife and mother of two.
When considering what advanced degree to pursue, Jorgensen consulted the Laboratory Director and Medical Director over the clinical laboratory, who recommended an MBA over a Master of Health Administration (MHA), which is a popular credential among healthcare professionals. “They said the MBA would be more versatile and give me more future career options in healthcare or some other field,” she explained. “My MBA opened me up to the bigger picture of the business side of healthcare”, she said. “I believe it also helped me grow and become more capable of filling a leadership position as someone who can understand and integrate the business and clinical sides.”
There is currently a shortage of clinical laboratory scientists with the required qualifications, skills and knowledge in math, chemistry and biology. It’s a demanding job requiring a strong work ethic and 24/7/365 commitment, according to Jorgensen. She has performed multiple roles during her 11 years at Nebraska Medicine, at times supervising evening shifts and currently performing lab work while helping steer development of the hospital’s growing Toxicology Lab facility.
The Core Lab plays a crucial role at Nebraska Medicine, providing core diagnostic tests in the disciplines of hematology, coagulation, chemistry and urinalysis, assisting with diagnosis and monitoring of approximately 60 to 70 percent of the hospital’s patients. “You have to be aware that you are an important part of a healthcare system. If you don’t provide physicians their laboratory tests results, they are hampered in treating their patients. Our doctors expect morning results to be on the charts by 8 o’clock. ”
“It’s not a sit-down job. It’s a fast-paced environment. It’s ‘stat.’ Many people couldn’t hack it. You’re constantly moving. We work in a small room, yet it’s nothing to put in 10,000 steps in one shift. You’re in the action, figuring things out. You’ve got phone calls; you’ve got things to locate. You’re a scientist, a retriever, an investigator. You are sort of a detective, finding the ‘Why?’ of things.
“The lab staff is a team, a group that’s the first to know someone has cancer, sickle cell disease or high cholesterol. We are the ones who relay results to the physicians to confirm a diagnosis or possible new health issue,” she said. “Many of us really enjoy being a first line of defense for the patient.”
Although she is content in her current role, Jorgensen is confident her clinical training and experience, combined with her MBA skills and knowledge, will enable her to take the next career step, when the right opportunity knocks. This will hopefully be at Nebraska Medicine where they are eager to retain good talent. Meanwhile, she and her husband, Dane, who owns and operates a Yutan, Nebraska, excavation company, are enjoying their work, life, and raising their two sons, Rhett, 4, and Walker, 2.