While people outside of healthcare may find the daily duties in a medical laboratory repetitious, Meridian Community College graduate William “Bo” Ramsey understands the impact his work is making in the lives of transplant patients and those who are immunocompromised.
Ramsey, who lives in Warrensburg, Mo., about 60 miles southeast of Kansas City, works for Viracor Eurofins Laboratories, part of an international group of laboratories based out of Luxembourg. Viracor Eurofins specializes in infectious disease, immunology and allergy diagnostic testing for immunocompromised and critical patients.
“I work in the immunology side of our company in a smaller department called Live Cell,” he said. “We work mostly with immunocompromised patients and transplant patients.”
Ramsey, who has been with Viracor for the past year, spends much of his day testing the function of specific types of immune cells, more specifically T-cells and natural killer cells, both types of white blood cells that play important roles in the body’s immune system.
“When someone receives a transplant, they are given drugs to suppress their immune system so that their body is less likely to reject the graft,” Ramsey noted. “In one specific assay, I test a person’s T-cell response when challenged against antigens ‘in vitro’ that should cause a response.
“The result a doctor gets will assist them in determining how well the patient is responding to the immunosuppressant drugs,” he noted. “Also, if someone is prone to chronic infections and illness, it may be related to low functioning natural killer cells. This is tested in another assay I perform.”
While most of his job is behind-the-scenes, Ramsey’s work is critical in helping to monitor whether a patient’s body is successfully receiving a transplant or complications may be developing or whether an immunocompromised patient is having trouble fighting off an infection.
Although a great deal of diagnostic work in medical laboratories is automated these days, his job at Viracor Eurofins still requires a lot of hands-on work.
“We run tests that can take all day and that are a lot of manual work,” said Ramsey, who is board certificated as a medical laboratory technician by the American Society of Clinical Pathology. “It can be long and drawn out, but that is really what I enjoy.”
Ramsey graduated with highest honors from Meridian Community College in August 2018 with his associate degree in Medical Laboratory Technology. He was one of MCC’s Circle of Excellence award winners and was named MLT Student of the Year for 2017-2018.
His 2018 graduation was his second from MCC.
A native of Jackson, Ramsey moved to Meridian shortly after his parents, Deborah and Eddie Ramsey, relocated here around 2010. Having worked in retail, he decided to pursue his education at MCC and earned his associate degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management Technology in December 2013.
After several years spent working in the hotel and retail industries in Meridian and Madison, he decided in 2016 to pursue a new career path, one that offered more job security in healthcare. So, he returned to Meridian, moved in with his parents and enrolled in the Medical Laboratory Technology Program.
After graduating from MCC, Ramsey relocated to Brentwood, Tenn., and went to work as a medical laboratory technician for Nashville-based PathGroup, one of the nation’s largest private pathology providers.
There, he gained a great deal of technical, hands-on experience which allowed him to become proficient in various lab tests. In March 2020, he began his current job at Viracor Eurofins in Lee’s Summit, Mo.
Ramsey plans to continue his education and obtain his bachelor’s degree once he gets his feet firmly planted in a permanent location.
He chose the medical laboratory field because it blends his love of science and technology with his desire to help people who are sick. Plus, clinical laboratory technologists and technician jobs are expected to increase at a faster-than-average rate of 7 percent by 2029 due to an aging population and greater access to healthcare, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“If you like science, this is definitely a good field to be in,” Ramsey noted. “Healthcare, in general, offers a great opportunity for someone looking for a career, and there are so many directions you can go with an MLT degree.
“You can do research; you can work in a hospital, a medical clinic or a reference lab. You can work for the government, such as the CDC, or a testing laboratory,” he added. “The door is really wide open to what you can do, and jobs are everywhere. You can pretty much pick a destination, and there are going to be laboratory jobs there.”