Brie LaJoye


Mayo Clinic Labs @Work

Thousands of people in hundreds of different roles work at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. Mayo Clinic Labs @Work offers a glimpse behind the scenes into this busy reference laboratory, featuring staff from throughout the organization talking about what they do and why they do it.

1.

What brought you to Mayo Clinic, and how long have you worked here?


I came to Mayo Clinic in January of 2018 as a Molecular Genetics Technology intern from Northern Michigan University. I’m proud to say I’ve been with Mayo for almost six years.

After earning my associated bachelor’s degree and completing my six-month internship with Extraction Core/Molecular Genetics, now known as Shared Laboratory Services and Molecular Technologies, I was hired full-time. Since joining, I have held three different positions within the same general laboratory. I spent roughly 2 ½ years as a clinical technologist in Extraction Core, roughly one year as a clinical technologist in Molecular Technologies. and for the past two years in my current position as a laboratory information system (LIS) technical specialist in Molecular Technologies.

Brie LaJoye

2.

What’s your current role and what does a typical workday look like for you?


In my current role as an LIS technical specialist, I work with laboratory instrumentation for a few different labs within the Laboratory of Genetics and Genomics (LGG). My team and I primarily manage Molecular Technologies but also cover Shared Laboratory Services (SLS) and Oligo Prep. In addition, we have started to cover the liquid handler from the MicroArray Laboratory.  

A workday for me differs just about every day but mainly involves reviewing and troubleshooting instrumentation, addressing process improvement requests, and answering instrument software questions by email. Troubleshooting emails may span a wide spectrum of issues, from automated liquid handlers or analyzers not performing as anticipated to malfunctioning incubators and a host of other equipment-related challenges. Some issues we may see frequently and might require one of our team members to perform basic maintenance. Other times, we work directly with healthcare technology management (HTM) or the vendor to get a part replaced and then coordinate validation or verification work following the repair.

Other duties we perform may involve collaborating with developers, lab applications teams, and various other departments to introduce new assays or tests and to conduct routine equipment maintenance.

3.

How do you think your work benefits providers and patients?


I play a part in keeping the lab up and running so patients and providers receive accurate results in a timely fashion. I also help automate new tests and refine existing tests for better automation and more efficient throughput. Ultimately, this allows us to process more patient samples and improves turnaround time.

4.

Is there anything about you or your job that others may find surprising?  


Although my current position focuses on our instrumentation, it does not require an engineering degree. I have a bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory science with a concentration in molecular biology. If I need an engineer for a repair, I reach out to a different group of specialists at Mayo or the specific instrument's field service engineer.

5.

Which part(s) of your job is the most challenging, and why?  


One of the trickiest parts of my job is when problems mysteriously fix themselves with no clear explanation. It can be quite challenging to explain to a technologist why something that was once an issue is suddenly working, even though it seems like nothing significant changed. In these scenarios, I’m glad the problem was resolved, but it can be a bit of a head-scratcher when I can't figure out how to prevent it from popping up in the future or troubleshoot it if it does.

6.

What gives you meaning and purpose in your work?  


I have great pride in knowing that I am an integral part of the lab. While I no longer extract DNA or RNA directly from patient samples or set up and result genetic testing for hereditary or oncology samples, I still make sure these processes continue to operate as smoothly as possible. And when instrumentation issues do arise, I am part of a team that works to identify and fix issues before delays in testing occur.  

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Nicole Holman (@nicoleholman)

Nicole Holman

Nicole Holman joined Mayo Clinic Laboratories in 2023. She currently serves as communications writer on the marketing team. Nicole enjoys feature writing and storytelling focused on employees, patients, and company culture.