September 27, 2017

Meet Shanario Whitfield in our UAMS Cytotechnology Program

Meet Shanario Whitfield in our UAMS Cytotechnology Program in the UAMS Department of Laboratory Sciences. He is our featured Student Highlight #UAMSCHP

My name is Shanario Whitfield
I am from Nassau, Bahamas.

By profession I am a Medical Technologist, with extensive experience in Medical Microbiology. One day I discovered an opening for a Cytotechnologist position at the Princess Margaret Hospital at which I’ve worked to for the last 3 years. After inquiring about who Cytotechnologist are and what they do, I found it extremely interesting that a microorganism, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), predominantly causes virtually all cervical cancer in women. With a microbiology background, I saw the link between that and Cytotechnology and decided to pursue the field to help in the prevention of cancers by early detection of precancerous lesions found in the human body. The Public Hospitals Authority was so gracious to grant me a full scholarship to pursue this degree, so all of those factors helped to me to decide to choose this program.

One of my career goals is to be a Cytotechnologist and eventually lecture in the field after some years of experience. I also seek to work in tandem with my government to improvise more efficient ways and technology in the detection of cancer, using molecular testing in conjunction with Cytology.

I like that the Cytotechnology program, under the supervision of Catherine Smith and Allison Wingfield, is a small sized class, so we get individualized instructors who cater to the needs of each student for ultimate productivity and success. Also, we get to go to “Ground rounds”, in which we partake of the information presented at lectures conducted by present doctoral researchers in the field that allows us to keep abreast of the latest findings available. Lastly, we get to be apart of a Journal Club, in which we review case studies and journal articles, and in the presence of Pathologist and Cytotechnologists already in the field, get an opportunity to objectively scrutinize these articles for our benefit and knowledge.

I am slated to graduate in the summer of 2018.

My plans after graduation is to go back to the Bahamas and serve my country as a Cytotechnologist. I would like to raise awareness of regular Pap screening among women and work in research in anything pertaining to cancer.

My favorite quote is “Pressure is a privilege”, by Billy Jean King. Under pressure diamonds are formed, so under pressure we can produce great things!

I love to watch Tennis (Go Rafa!), as well as read books about ancient civilizations to understand how we came about as people. Playing dominoes and hanging out with friends is always a favorite too.

After successfully finishing the Cytotechnology program at UAMS, I would be the first known Bahamian male to be a Cytotechnologist. I would like to use that platform to inspire more young men and women to pursue the field within the country and indeed around the world. Since the Pap test came about by Dr. George Papanicolaou, the incidences of death due to cervical cancer had dropped by about 70% in the United States, and is the most effective way of preventing any form of cancer to date!

A big influence in my life has been my father and mother, Gary and Sherry Whitfield. Collectively they have always motivated me to go the extra mile and have supported my endeavors consistently. Also, my friends and other loved ones have been pillars of strength.

The way I overcome challenges is to make a decision, to either be a thermometer or a thermostat. Thermometers are affected by their environments but thermostats dictate to their environment what it should be. If something is going out of whack I recalibrate and know that the solution is already within me, just waiting for me to manifest it!

What I would say to future students in my program is to first and foremost understand that we are one of the first line set of people who save lives from cancer. The profession should be treated with the utmost care and honor that the patient could be our mothers, fathers or any loved one. I think when we understand that, we would do our endeavor to learn all that we can in school and continue learning so that we can be on the cutting edge and provide exceptional service to all our clients.

What motivates me is the desire to do my personal best and to take pride in what I do, even if I’m never recognized or celebrated.