By TYLER MASK
Not many people can truly say that they always knew what they wanted to be when they grew up, but for one Mineral Wells resident, it’s all she has ever known.
Nearly 40 years ago, Palo Pinto General Hospital Laboratory Manager Rhonda Patterson, MT, began her career in high school through a work/study program in Mineral Wells.
Her cousin was the PPGH Laboratory Manager at the time and encouraged her to sign on as one of the three Mineral Wells High School students to work in the lab. Although PPGH no longer allows students from MWHS, Patterson recalls that things were different back then.
“I was a senior in high school and decided to go ahead and make this a career,” Patterson said. “Working as students here, and really we did, back then, almost everything that the techs did.
“It was very different times.”
At an early age, Patterson knew she wanted to help people, particularly in the medical field, but also realized that she tended to develop strong attachments. In order to protect her heart, she felt that becoming a Medical Technologist would be a good fit; however, she quickly learned that no matter what part of the medical field one joins, it’s still easy to grow attached to patients and their lives.
“It was a way to help people, I felt like, but not to get so attached to people,” Patterson said. “I’d always been interested in the medical field somehow, nursing or whatever, but I knew that if I were a nurse, I would probably tend to get attached to people, and death and things like that would really bug me.
“[But] I found that working in the lab doesn’t keep you immune from that because I still have a lot of patients that we really get attached to.”