Tashika M. Garrett
Former patient, now a phlebotomist
Tashika M. Garrett is a proud Mayo Clinic staff member — a laboratory services technician at Rochester Methodist Hospital, part of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. She is a phlebotomist who collects patient blood samples for laboratory testing.
Garrett says her approach to patient care is the same one she experienced when she became a Mayo Clinic patient several years ago. "When I traveled from my home in Indiana to Mayo Clinic for care, I had wonderful experiences," Garrett says. "Mayo stayed in my heart when I returned home."
A self-described "people person," Garrett has a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Southern Indiana. "No one is in the hospital because they feel well," says Garrett, who uses her communications skills to help patients feel better by complimenting them or answering their questions.
Garrett sought care at Mayo Clinic for a chronic, uncommon dermatological condition. "My Mayo physicians offered alternate solutions and advised my dermatologists in Indiana how to care for my condition," she says. "The approach to my care at Mayo from dermatologists Rochelle R. Torgerson, M.D., Ph.D., and Randall K. Roenigk, M.D., made a drastic difference, and I'm very grateful for that."
When Garrett decided to pursue training in phlebotomy, she checked Mayo Clinic's website to see what was available. She was accepted into the 10-week Phlebotomy Technician Certificate Program, which she completed in the summer of 2010.
During her training, she lived at a local hotel. "I was the only person in the program at the time without local friends or family," says Garrett. "Everyone did a great job making me feel at home." Garrett's mother, who encouraged her to go into health care and supported her during the training, visited her in Rochester.
Mary Kaye T. Peterson, director of the Phlebotomy Technician Certificate Program, says the program packs a lot of information into its curriculum. "The training includes significant information and patient contact," says Peterson. "We try to give our students whatever support they need, which may involve a little more for those who don't have friends or family around. Tashika was so friendly and positive that it was a pleasure to assist her."
Peterson was impressed with Garrett's interpersonal skills. "We can teach the skills required to draw blood, but we look for students who are already patient oriented," says Peterson.
About the Phlebotomy Technician Certificate Program
The Phlebotomy Technician Certificate Program was established early in 2010. In the first year, 32 students completed the program, which is approved by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). Students are eligible to take a national certifying examination for phlebotomy technicians immediately upon completion of the program.
While the phlebotomist I position is entry level at Mayo Clinic, program graduates can apply for transfer to other positions after two years. "There is a career path within phlebotomy at Mayo Clinic — becoming a core trainer, lead technician or supervisor," says Peterson.