In this conversation, Leah and I discuss her excitement for winning one of four perfusion scholarships with SpecialtyCare, her unconventional route to perfusion school, and how she is following in her mother’s footsteps with her passion for healthcare. Enjoy the conversation.


Speaker 1:  Bringing you conversations with the leaders within the operating room and healthcare community. This is Scrubbing In.

Todd Schlosser: Hello, and welcome to this episode of Scrubbing In. A podcast powered by SpecialityCare. I’m Todd Schlosser, and today my guest is Leah Haden. A perfusion student at the University of Iowa.

Todd Schlosser: In this conversation Leah and I discuss her excitement for winning one of the four perfusion scholarships with SpecialiteyCare, her unconventional route into perfusion school, and how she is following her mothers footsteps with her passion for healthcare. Enjoy the conversation.

Todd Schlosser:  Thank you for joining us here on Scrubbing In. Today I am joined by Leah Haden, she is going to be graduating from the University of Iowa healthcare, with a certificate of perfusion technology in May, and I’d like to start off, Leah, with this question.

Todd Schlosser:  Just because I like to understand why people got a passion to work in healthcare. So, let me simply say that. What drove you to want to work in the healthcare space?

Leah Haden: Well, I want to say a big part of it is probably because I grew up in healthcare. My mom was a medical technologist in the lab at the hospital in the town we grew up in, and I remember going up to visit her at work and I would always play with old slides of bacteria, and what have you, underneath a microscope.

Leah Haden: And it was always just really intriguing. I didn’t know what I was looking at, at the time, but I just thought it was really neat. And then when I was a little bit older she went back and became a physician assistant.

Todd Schlosser:  Oh.

Leah Haden: After going to school, and I remember conversations about that always consuming our dinnertime talk because I’d ask her what neat things she saw in the doctor’s office, or in the OR when she was clinicals and all this stuff. So it was always a topic of conversation and something I was around. So I just knew I wanted to study medicine because I was used to it.

Todd Schlosser: So you kind of grew up around it with your mom being in that field, did she encourage you to go into it or was it something that you developed a passion for just because you saw her passion for it?

Leah Haden:  She always just wanted me to do what would make me happy granted I kind of have an unconventional route to getting into perfusion.

Todd Schlosser: I did see that.

Leah Haden:  Because I didn’t really study medicine. So but I think just seeing how she enjoyed it and how she enjoyed being able to work with patients and make their lives a little bit better, just kind of coming from the servant heart that she has really inspired me to kind of eventually get to that point.

Todd Schlosser:  I mean, I think anyone who is going into healthcare sort of it any level or any position has to have that servant part or enough compassion to want to make people’s lives better. And you actually gave me a good leeway into a few questions that I had because you actually hold a master’s degree in exercise science from Wichita State.

Leah Haden: Yeah.

Todd Schlosser: So what was it that got you into exercise science?

Leah Haden:  Well, originally before even going into exercise science, I was pre-medicine.

Todd Schlosser: Oh, okay.

Leah Haden:   And I actually thought about eventually I’ll be radiologist, but just something about it wasn’t like my first year of college, I didn’t feel, I don’t want to say it didn’t feel happy, but I just felt something wasn’t right. So I contemplated other majors and I had actually been an athlete my whole entire life growing up. I was a cross country runner, a track runner and a swimmer primarily. I just thought it was really, I say okay, exercise science, I understand that. And I’ve kind of always had a really intriguing kind of nerdiness I guess over a human physiology. And I just naturally understand that stuff as well. So I switched my major to exercise science. Granted a lot of people who study that end up going into physical therapy or being a personal trainer, which I was for several years. But I just didn’t feel like that was my end goal. I feel like there was something more I wanted to do. So I went to Grad School, because you don’t know what to do, just go to school and figure it out.

Todd Schlosser:  Just keep going to school, yeah exactly. Been there myself.

Leah Haden:  Right. And so I knew in the back of my mind I was like, I do kind of want to blend this with medicine. Human physiology and medicine wasn’t really sure what that was. I thought about cardiac rehab. So I took a couple cardiac focus classes in grad school and I loved that topic. I naturally understood it, loved studying it. So I knew I wanted to do something involving cardiac health. The heart. What have you.

Todd Schlosser:  Sure.

Leah Haden:  Still wasn’t quite set on cardiac rehab. And one of my mentors actually mentioned perfusion and it caught my attention because it was like what in the world is perfusion. And so I wrote it down knowing I wasn’t going to remember that word if I didn’t. And I talked to him after class and I was like, “So what is perfusion?” And he’s like, “Oh, this is what they do. They run the heart lung bypass machine.” I was like, “I didn’t even know this was a thing.”

Leah Haden: So it gave me the number of a perfusionist locally that he has sent some previous students to years ago. And I shadowed one surgery and I was like, this is really neat. I have to have an understanding of cardiac physiology and I can use my knowledge and exercise physiology as far as keeping a patient perfused and still be involved in somebody’s health care. And I was like, this is it. This is that perfect blend of the two. So from there.

Todd Schlosser: When you decided that hey perfusion is my path. You did your initial Google search in your own studying up on what it was and you were like, this is what I want to do. How did you find where you wanted to get the training for it? Because you ended up at the University of Iowa, but were you already in that area or did you just like their program or what was it that got you to that school?

Leah Haden:  I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go to school right off the bat. I just continued to observe at the same perfusionist. I kind of made it an internship when I was in grad school just to go in, observe, kind of help unplug in doing what I was able to do to help out. And the perfusionist that I was working with, he’s been in a really long time and he was actually on the job trained years ago after being in the military.

Leah Haden: So I couldn’t really get a recommendation from him. My mom actually lives in Colorado Springs and she was like, hey, I did clinical rounds with this surgeon and I met one of their perfusionist one time, his name was Jason Kramer. And so I reached out to him and when I would go visit my mom, I would see if they had a couple surgeries I could pop in on. And he was a graduate of the University of Iowa. So I actually looked online. He’s like, “Hey, I’ll give their director a call. I was meaning to catch up with him. Some point soon and I’ll mention that you’ve been out here and I’ll put in a good word for you, which I don’t want to say that’s what got me in, but it certainly helped.

Todd Schlosser:  Yeah, I know those schools are very competitive, yeah.

Leah Haden: They are just because there’s not very many. And I looked at their application deadline, this was about the beginning of December and their deadline was the end of December and I’m like, oh well I better hurry and get my application together.

Todd Schlosser: Better buckle down, yeah.

Leah Haden:  So yeah I knew I had a lot of observation hours, which I think really helped me because I was able to speak on my experience when I interviewed and I did have some experience going in since I took the time to shadow a lot of operations. And then I had those letters of recommendation from my graduate mentor who actually mentioned it to me. And then that perfusionist who graduated from Iowa and I was really nervous. I’m an interview knowing it was competitive and because there is such a huge need and they want everybody that goes into the program to graduate and do well out in the field. So I knew I had to have that experience going into that interview and being able to show that I really wanted to do it.

Todd Schlosser: Yeah, absolutely. It’s such a small community. Graduating classes may have five, may have eight people, so they keep track and it’s easy to keep track of what student goes where and how well they do and if they wash out of the industry or even if they don’t graduate, that could reflect bad because one person not graduated from a class of five is a huge percentage. Right? So they are really stringent on who they let in and it’s just highly competitive. So it speaks well to your character that you are able to at the beginning of December, find out about a slot opening up and then being able to get in so quickly. That’s great.

Leah Haden: Right. I think it was like meant to be since it happened so quick.

Todd Schlosser:  Absolutely. Absolutely. How long has the perfusion program at the University of Iowa?

Leah Haden:  It is 20 months. So we start in the August of one year, do a calendar or like a traditional school year of didactic work. And then for a whole 12 months we do straight clinicals. And the blessing with the University of Iowa is it’s usually all onsite because we have an adult main Iowa and then we have a pediatric hospital. So we’re able to get adult and pediatric experience in the same place.

Leah Haden:  And we do have one off site clinical rotation that we added this year in Waterloo, Iowa. So it’s just under two years. But we are able to get all of our experience in one location, which is really nice.

Todd Schlosser:  So the reason you came on our radar here at specialty care and the reason that one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you on Scrubbing In was because you applied and received the perfusion scholarship that especially care provides. So how did you find out about the Specialty Care Perfusion Scholarship?

Leah Haden: Yeah. I guess I can’t really trace it back. I’ve always kind of known about Specialty Care from like right when I started school. I think we had a representative or a recruiter come in and talk to our class during like a Perfusion seminar that we have. And one of the perfusions actually [inaudible 00:09:32], said he worked for specialty care a long time ago. So that name was kind of in my brain and I knew I was wanting to kind of relocate back home and I knew it was a specialty care account. So I’ve kind of always followed specialty care, checked in on their like job openings and just kind of always followed it. So I got notifications about the scholarship when I interviewed for my job, who will be my clinical manager actually mentioned, hey, there’s a scholarship when it opens up, you should apply. And so right when it opened up, I applied for it hoping it would work out and it did so.

Todd Schlosser: Awesome. Let me ask you this, the application process for school, was that more difficult than the application process for the Specialty Care Perfusion Scholarship? Because I know they’re somewhat similar.

Leah Haden: Yeah, they are very similar. Like first school I had to have a couple letters recommendations just like this scholarship. There is an interview process. You have to write a letter saying why you went into school or why do you want to accept this scholarship, which I think that’s kind of easy. Like you want to be authentic in those three reasons of this is my story. This is why I think it would benefit me. So you have to write that letter saying why you think you deserve it and what you would use it for. And then there’s an interview process for school it was in person. And what’s really interesting about my school interview is two of the other students that I interviewed with are actually in my class and will be graduating together. So it was really on the first day of class be like, “Hey, I interviewed with you.” So that was really neat. And then for the scholarship it was a phone interview. So very, very similar. And they are very thorough because they want to make sure you are who you are and you’re going to have integrity with it.

Todd Schlosser:  Right. Much like the schools and how they care about how the graduates do. Post-graduation it’s sort of the same thing with Specialty Care perfusion Scholarship because there are only so many of them. We wanted to do high qualified candidates and I mean clearly you are one.

Leah Haden:  Oh, thank you. Thank you.

Todd Schlosser:  Well, I mean I didn’t make that determination Leah. It was the people who decide to scholarship, which I’d imagine, and I don’t know for sure, but was it Al Stammers and Linda Monjimero and do those names ring a bell?

Leah Haden:  Yeah, those two. And then als Andy Sashco, I’ve been a communication with him for quite a while, so the names are familiar and I’ve actually had the opportunity to meet Al because he came to the university and spoke to us in a couple of lectures. So great people. They were very nice.

Todd Schlosser: Not to applaud myself, but I’ve actually interviewed all three of those people on Scrubbing In. So it looks like you’ll graduate in May. What are your plans post-graduation?

Leah Haden:  Yes.

Todd Schlosser: So you had mentioned that a moment ago that you had already interviewed for a job. Is that your job where you’ll be going once you graduate?

Leah Haden:  Yes. So I actually interviewed for… I’ll be going back to Wichita, Kansas where I came from with my undergraduate and graduate studies. And it’s about as close to my family as I can possibly get. So that’s going to be really nice. And my fiance is also from there. So we are working with the specialty care account in Wichita, I’m very excited about that. I actually had that job secured back in… I interviewed in October. And we’ve been pretty much been a set thing since then. So very excited that it’s actually close and happening here within a few weeks.

Todd Schlosser: Yeah. You’ll be coming on board I guess in specialty care then pretty soon.

Leah Haden: Yes, specialty care.

Todd Schlosser:  Awesome.

Leah Haden: Very excited.

Todd Schlosser:  So let me ask this. Being that perfusionist are in such high demand, is that one of the things that drew you to the field because you knew you could relocate to Wichita or close to family or was it not a concern for you when you were looking at that job specifically?

Leah Haden:  Yeah, at that time I wasn’t even really aware that there was openings in Wichita. I just knew that it was what I wanted to do and I just knew that I’m going to end up where I need to be. And this is something that I’m really passionate about without even having started school. I know that that’s what I need to do and the rest is going to work out from there. So yeah, I just applied, went in and I’ve always kind of kept tabs on jobs and there was actually two openings in Wichita. Like that opened up the first year I was in school and then I saw that one kind of got filled and I was like, oh, there’s one more, hopefully it’s still there by the time I graduate because I would like to be close to family.

Todd Schlosser: Yeah, family is important.

Leah Haden: Makes transitions a lot easier. So I guess it wasn’t really a concern but it’s always something that’s in the back of your head. The one thing I do like about, especially with the specialty care is that they have accounts all over so you can stay with your same employer and relocate if you have to or if you want to. And it also kind of nice knowing that you have that job security since they are in such high demand, which is a concern for a lot of people these days.

Todd Schlosser:  Yeah, absolutely is.

Leah Haden:  I was going to say, another thing that kind of drove me to specialty care is, granted I’ve been like a lifelong student. I don’t know what life is outside of school and specialty care encourages you to continue education and they financially support that. They provide those opportunities, which was also something that I found attractive about it too.

Todd Schlosser: Yeah. We have Specialty Care University that is built around that to help those who wants to continue to learn to do just that. So Leah, thank you so much for joining us here on Scrubbing In. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to join us.

Leah Haden:  All right. Thank you so much for talking with me. It was great.

Todd Schlosser: Thanks for listening to Scrubbing In. Please take a second to give us a rating on your podcast app and subscribe so you won’t miss out on what we have coming up. See you next time.