Leslie Freeman, MT(ASCP)SH, is a clinical laboratory scientist in hematology at UC Davis Health System with more than 25 years of experience. She is the hematology educational coordinator for the Clinical Lab Science Training Program at the UC Davis Medical Center and is the instructor of the online course Introduction to Clinical Hematology.
How did you become interested in hematology?
I became interested as a college student when I took my hematology class at UC Davis. It was a requirement for training even back then. I really enjoyed the visual nature of the field and looking at stained cells on a slide under the microscope reminds me of a work of art. Even cancer and leukemic cells are strangely beautiful when looked at on a Wright’s stained smear, such as we use in hematology.
Why do you teach?
My intention was to be an early childhood educator, but I quickly switched gears after I discovered the laboratory world. I like seeing someone finally get a concept they have been struggling with. If I can provide an explanation that makes sense to them, I take great joy in seeing what I call the “ah-ha moment”—when they grasp the concept that I am trying to convey.
Why is clinical hematology important?
Clinical hematology is important because so many diseases show up in the cells of the blood. Anything from leukemia to vitamin and mineral deficiencies and hemoglobinopathies are all evident in the blood cells circulating in our bodies. It is a complex and exciting field that has expanded with advances in new technologies. It requires critical thinking to evaluate the disease processes you may see and relating that to what you actually see with results in the laboratory and correlating the two together. Clinical hematology is more than just looking at a drop of blood on a slide and has evolved as much as any of the disciplines in the laboratory into a highly technical area of the laboratory.
What do you want students to take away from your course?
I would really love each and every student to come away from this class with a thirst for learning more. Introduction to Clinical Hematology is just the beginning of their journey and I want them all to be excited to get started.