Starting his Northwell Health career as the director of Lab/Pathology at LIJ Valley Stream Hospital 13 years ago, Dr. Dwanye Breining held that title at multiple Northwell hospitals before coming to our Core Laboratory. Now as executive director of the Northwell Laboratories, he leads the talented team that coordinates laboratory testing for our new Core Laboratory at the Center for Advanced Medicine (CFAM), the new Core Microbiology Laboratory at Little Neck Parkway, and the 43 hospital laboratories that rely on our laboratories for reference testing. Northwell Labs is also responsible for testing for physician offices, nursing homes, the Department of Health, clinical trials, urgent care centers and more.
We sat down with Dr. Breining to discuss the growth of careers within Northwell Labs.
What types of careers are available within Northwell Labs?
While I think everyone is aware that we employ many MD & DO pathologists, as well as PhDs, laboratory technologists, and phlebotomists, not everyone knows that we also have people in sales and finance, as well as numerous IT specialists, data analysts, customer service representatives, materials management personnel and many delivery vehicle operators, and even a pharmacist. It is indeed a very big department, and we are a 24/7/365 operation – laboratory services never stop.
What makes our Labs at Northwell unique?
I like to think that we combine the best of both worlds: the high-efficiency of a commercial lab-type setting with the personal touch and hands-on engagement of your local hospital lab that knows you as a patient, and your physician as a colleague. As the largest nonprofit health system lab in the country, we have access to the most advanced medical testing technology available, including the largest Roche chemistry automation line in North America at the CFAM lab and the largest Kiestra automated microbiology system at the Little Neck Lab.
We are recognized internationally as an innovator in the laboratory industry, not just on the technology side but also in the business arena through forming unique partnerships with other health systems such as the one we formed with NYC Health & Hospitals, in which we also serve as the Core Laboratory for their 18 hospitals and affiliated clinics. Another unique innovation we just launched, and are especially proud of, is LabFly. This is an Uber-like app, available for both iOS and Android devices, to have our phlebotomy services come to you, in your home or office at whatever time is convenient, for a low convenience fee. We are seeing rapidly growing interest in this type of service.
Why should Bio/Chem students who are unsure of what they want to do as a career explore the clinical lab field?
The level of fulfillment and sense of purpose one derives from working within healthcare in general, and knowing that the work you do directly affects the well-being of our community, is second to none, as any healthcare professional can attest. In the lab tech arena specifically, you will never be bored, as there are over 30 different tech sub-specialty areas in which to train, which creates many opportunities for career advancement. There is regular interaction with colleagues from all aspects of the lab, and also with physicians, office and hospital staff, and even school students and the general public at times. In addition, many of our Laboratory Information System computer specialists started out as lab techs, and are now trained and regularly installing and troubleshooting the highly advanced medical information systems that make modern healthcare run.
Why is Northwell an employer of choice for lab professionals?
Because of our demanding position within a large, leading healthcare system, we will always be at the cutting edge of clinical laboratory medicine. There are abundant opportunities for career evolution and advancement, and our staff can choose to partake in as much as they like. We work hard to create a comfortable and collegial work environment (after all, we all spend almost half our waking hours at work) because we want to attract and retain the best of the best.
Where do you see the future of clinical laboratory sciences evolving?
The future of the lab industry is incredibly bright. New testing technology keeps coming along faster than we can automate the simpler testing, and it is always a challenge to have enough techs coming on-board to keep up with it. In addition, we are already seeing opportunities for the lab to step more forward in healthcare, and participate in things like patient risk assessment, care coordination and escalation, and population health, especially given an aging population., We expect these trends to continue well into the future.