Where the Heck Has Hieu Been?:
I've been working full-time as a clinical laboratory technician (CLT) since the end of June at the University of Washington's Virology Lab in Eastlake. I work alongside several medical laboratory scientists (MLS's) and other CLT's to run the actual tests for COVID-19. Our lab is a 24/7 non-stop operation. We receive, prep, and run thousands of samples from testing sites, hospitals, senior facilities, and other organizations across Washington State and other parts of the U.S. daily. The work we do is not directly related to the search for a vaccine, but we do help conduct tests for studies to learn more about the coronavirus and its different effects on the human body.
Some Background on the Eastlake Virology Lab:
On January 11 scientists in China were able to get part of the new coronavirus' genome to the rest of the world. A UW scientist shortly after sequenced the entire genome of the new coronavirus and developed the first COVID-19 test in the U.S. You may hear reports that the first test in the U.S. for COVID-19 was developed elsewhere, but it actually happened at UW. Within a month, with the support of Bill Gates, the Virology Lab at Eastlake was established and operational.
What Lies Ahead:
I will start the Medical Laboratory Science program at UW September 30. I will continue to work part-time at the virology lab to offer my support in the fight against COVID until a working vaccine is created and can be massly distributed. I would've liked to have been able to stay on at FHC, but as long as I'm working with live coronavirus samples daily, I don't want to risk any potential exposure to the FHC community.
Hopefully in two years I make it through the program and can become a certified MLS. Long term I still plan to work overseas as a MLS with Doctors Without Borders. I just need to get a couple of years of work experience under my belt before I can apply. Plus try to pick up French and/or Arabic along the way.
I don't know where all this will take me or how a post COVID-19 world will impact my journey. As long as I can continue to develop my skills as a MLS and the sciences I'll keep trying to do something to serve others with it. I intend to keep roaming the world and do this for as long as possible until I die.
I will miss everyone at FHC. It was a great pleasure to have been a part of the community.