For Carlo Ledesma, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM SHCM DLMCM,QLSCM ,MT(AMT), the journey to medical laboratory science started in the Philippines. He was inspired by his uncle, who was a medical technologist, and Mr. Ledesma had a dream of emigrating to the United States. After graduating from University of Santo Tomas, Mr. Ledesma worked as a Lab Assistant in Microbiology, and then as a generalist in a rural hospital. While working in an academic facility, he found a passion for hematology, and pursued a Master’s degree in Clinical Laboratory Science. Mr. Ledesma is working on his doctorate at KUMC DCLS and hopes to use his expertise to improve laboratory medicine's role in advancing transgender health and LGBTQ health. He shared with Critical Values his thoughts on diversity in healthcare, and more.
Why is diversity in healthcare leadership so critical to the success of the laboratory?
Diversity in healthcare leadership is vital to the success of an organization, especially in the clinical laboratory because it promotes a culture of acceptance. To an employee, the diversity in leadership could serve as an inspiration, that they can be a leader. In addition, it also promotes a visualization that their leaders understand them and that they are not disconnected with their staff. Diversity in leadership can effectively be a morale booster for employees and encourage them to see that minorities are recognized; that leadership is "in touch" with their employees. And to the customers of the organization, it shows that the organization values diversity and is culturally competent.
How did you learn about Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and what do you enjoy the most about working in this field? Why did you pick the areas in which you focus in your professional life? What do you hope to leave as a legacy from your professional life?
I enjoy the rapid changes in laboratory medicine to help improve diagnosis and monitoring of therapy. Since I started in 2005, I have witnessed changes in clinical laboratory practice and can foresee a lot of beneficial changes happening. This is what I enjoy the most, the constant learning and being able to see the realization of basic scientific research in diagnostic medicine.
Post-doctoral studies, I hope to be more involved in promoting LGBT health, most especially advocate for improvements in laboratory science as an advocacy for transgender health. I have had a great career as a technologist, in management, and as an educator, I am hopeful that through my doctoral training as a DCLS, I can contribute to improving the health status of transgender and non-binary patients. As a member of the LGBT community, I hope to use my expertise to advocate for and to give back to the community and serve as a voice to improve health outcomes for the community. I hope to leave a legacy of hope. That one isn't destined to be one thing, that we hold our fate and could change it to make ourselves better in life; that the odds may be against our favor but trusting in yourself and improving yourself can change the odds against you to be a better you and gain the respect of peers and other professionals in your chosen field.
What are some of the systemic healthcare challenges that affect Asian Americans and/or Pacific Islanders, and what role can the laboratory play in addressing them?
Based on personal experiences, I believe that there is a stigma against foreign-trained or foreign-certified individuals. I have heard from some colleagues prior that when I was certified as ASCPi that I did not have the same credentials even though I am certified as an MT(ASCPi). It appears that there is a stigma that we are below their standards. Also, because we are foreigners and have no family and most migrant workers are single, management expects we cover overtime. We have no family nor friends and need the money. It was a bit demeaning for me, but I am conflicted because it was true. Feeling valued, important, and recognized as same based on credentials goes a long way. Being miles away from family and friends is hard enough, it becomes harder if you are devalued and do not feel like you are part of a community.