After finishing her bachelor’s degree in microbiology, Raynette Kaneshiro, PA (ASCP)CM, was working at the Shriner’s Hospital research laboratory studying arthritis. After her principal investigator passed away after a lengthy bout with cancer, funding for the laboratory was hard to get, and Ms. Kaneshiro found herself looking for a new job. A colleague mentioned that The Queen’s Medical Center was looking for people to join its new Pathology Assistant program, and would Ms. Kaneshiro be willing to perform autopsies? She replied she certainly was, and the rest, as she says, is history as she started her career as a Pathologist’s Assistant. Here she shares her insights on diversity in the laboratory and what makes for an encouraging and supportive workplace.
Why is diversity in healthcare leadership so critical to the success of the laboratory?
Diversity is incredibly important as there is never one solution for anything. Much like pathology there are so many different nuances to each situation. In the past lung cancer was lung cancer and everyone got the same kind of treatment. Nowadays it’s about personalized medicine and treatment is specifically tailored to the patient. Dealing with situations at work or interacting with staff always differs because there is so much to consider. Having diversity allows for differing viewpoints and a lot of times some pretty original and unique ideas.
In your experience, what characterizes a workplace and working community where you feel a sense of belonging and empowerment, where you can do your best work, thrive, and feel welcomed and valued?
For me it was always about being heard and being allowed to give my ideas on solutions to problems and giving input for the future of the lab. I’ve been very fortunate to have some really great leaders who frequently asked for my opinion or even let me run with some of my ideas for the lab. My current director, Kristen Croom, is very receptive to new ideas and welcomes input from me, our technical supervisors, and even the front-line staff.
What challenges have you encountered around increasing diversity and inclusion in healthcare?
Fortunately, in Hawaii diversity is the norm. Inclusion comes naturally here as Hawaii is the melting pot and we have so many different ethnicities everywhere. Honestly, I feel diversity is embraced here in Hawaii and especially here at Queen’s; it’s always been about what can you contribute, not who you are or where you come from.