Field Work in STEM Focuses on Devices, Safety and Provide a Sense of Purpose

STEM specialists find themselves on the go and collaborating in the field with medical professionals. 

REACHING YOUR POTENTIAL     |    Aug. 17, 2021

Field engineering positions are essential to the business and come in several forms, including being available to service lab instruments on-site with healthcare professionals, training doctors and hospital staff on medical devices and offering on-site safety support. Learn more about three field-based careers in STEM. Marina, Kate, and Danzell share their experiences and the skills they rely on to do their jobs.

Marina Yesilevich, Technical Services Manager, Molecular Tests
Marina Yesilevich's team of 17 service engineers is responsible for installing and servicing Abbott molecular devices in hospitals, laboratories, and other healthcare settings — devices that can be essential to determining a person's medical treatment. Molecular devices cover diagnostics and analysis of DNA, RNA and proteins at the molecular level. These devices as well as other diagnostic machines with different methodologies give results for COVID-19, cancer or whether an emergency-room patient is having a heart attack.

Every workday is different, and that's one of the many things Yesilevich and her team members enjoy about the job. Engineers, typically with mechanical, biomedical or robotics backgrounds, drive or fly to various locations. They regularly interact with doctors, lab technicians and other healthcare professionals, so in addition to technical expertise, good communication and people skills are essential, Yesilevich says. When not in the field, service engineers stay up to date on the latest training and technology, whether reading tutorials, reviewing regulatory requirements, or attending sessions at an Abbott instrument training center.

"We all understand there's a person depending on our test results at the end of this work," Yesilevich says.

Kate Richardson, Clinical Specialist, Electrophysiology
Clinical specialists get an up-close and personal view of how Abbott medical devices work. They see the differences made in people's lives because they're often in the room when doctors are using instruments on their patients. Kate works in the Los Angeles area, where she provides training, education, and real-time support for electrophysiology devices.

Known as a "mapper," Richardson assists doctors as they maneuver a catheter to perform ablation procedures for cardiac arrhythmias, or irregular heart rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia. Operating Abbott's EnSite Precision Cardiac Mapping System, Richardson creates a 3D model and electrical map of the heart based on electrical conductivity from sensors on the patient's body and catheters in the heart. This map helps guide the physician for treatment and diagnosis.

Not every aspect of Richardson's job is technical. Throughout the day, she's interacting with doctors, lab technicians and patients, whom she often meets during a procedure. Richardson trains on the latest Abbott products, repairs and services equipment and reads about clinical studies or competitors' devices.

"This is an awesome opportunity to be working in healthcare and engineering but not be in an office," Richardson says.

Danzell Liles, Employee Health Safety Specialist
"Safety first" is more than just a saying to Danzell Liles. It's what he focuses on every day in his work at an Abbott vascular device production facility in Temecula, California. Liles is part of a team that takes a collaborative approach to help ensure Abbott follows federal and state safety regulations and prevents injuries, and promotes the health of every employee, contractor, and visitor.

"I help apply measures to make sure we're working safely and help our people to do their jobs better," says Liles, who was an Abbott intern and now is in the company's professional development program.

Liles' time is a mix of monitoring the plant floor, ensuring machinery and equipment procedures are followed, filing necessary regulatory documents, and staying on top of safety issues related to maintenance or construction projects. He and his team investigate potential hazards and create plans to prevent them. That means talking regularly with employees to learn about machinery, equipment, and processes.

Liles says his degree in occupational safety and health is relevant to his job daily, along with communication and problem-solving skills. It's important to pick up on injury trends quickly and make sure he's getting input from workers, supervisors, equipment experts and others, he says.

"I like to help contribute to a good culture at Abbott, and I'm always trying to get buy-in from various parties and people who are part of the operation," he says. "I want them to feel like they can come and talk to me about workplace safety because the more we know, the safer we can make things for everyone."