Phlebotomy Tech Graduate Works to Decontaminate N95 Masks During the Pandemic
Keeping an open mind during a job search can lead to rewarding opportunities.
Tee Silvers completed her Phlebotomy Technician Certificate at the College of Professional Education (CPE) in March, just as COVID-19 was forcing many businesses, schools, and offices to close temporarily. As many hospitals and medical offices canceled elective procedures, Silvers entered an uncertain job market.
“I interviewed with several labs just before the pandemic hit,” said Silvers. “Even though I was offered a position as a phlebotomist, orientation was delayed during the shutdown. By the end of March, I didn’t have a job.”
With her medical background, new certificate, and a positive attitude, Silvers was determined to make the most of a challenging situation. She decided to expand her job search to include a wider range of healthcare opportunities.
Working on the Frontlines of the Pandemic
“I applied to work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta and received a call in April,” Silvers said. “They were looking for a lab assistant to work with the Critical Care Decontamination System™ (CCDS) to address the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic. If I was open to the training, I could start working right away. I knew that during COVID-19, my skills would be needed somehow.”
Silvers once worked as a registered nurse prior to taking time off to raise her children. With a goal of renewing her license, she first sought professional education to help refresh her skills. After finding the Phlebotomy Technician Certificate at CPE through a Google search, she was impressed with what the program had to offer.
“The course offered more clinical hours than other programs I researched,” said Silvers. When you work in the medical field, the hands-on training you receive is everything when it comes to your success. The clinical hours at CPE were far more than what the state mandated, and that helped me feel confident in my decision to enroll. During the course, I was able to stay after class and continue practicing with the instructors when needed. That was a major plus.”
Silvers now travels the country with the CDC and FEMA, ensuring that healthcare personnel and first responders have the PPE they need by decontaminating N95 masks with the Critical Care Decontamination System™. The system, which uses vaporized hydrogen peroxide sterilizer, is free for all hospitals and helps mitigate N95 respirator demands. According to FEMA, a single CCDS™ can decontaminate up to 80,000 N95 respirators a day, making them available for reuse.
Looking Toward the Future
As one of the first people trained to use the CCDS™, Silvers now serves in a leadership training position and is looking toward the future.
“My background, Phlebotomy Technician Certificate, and my current job have opened so many doors,” said Silvers. I want to continue working in the lab, learning the equipment, and hope to one day work in medical equipment repair. My goal is to purse an AA in biomedical engineering.”
Silvers also has encouraging advice for anyone who wants to pursue the Phlebotomy Technician Certificate at CPE.
“The possibilities are endless when you earn this certificate,” she said. “While I’m not drawing blood, they hire people from all backgrounds to do this job. Having a connection to the medical field through my certificate really helped. You never know where one particular job can take you. I’ve met so many people who I never would have met otherwise. I’m so glad to help the medical field in any way I can. We are America strong!”