EU Alumni Perspective: James Arnzen
Name: James Arnzen, BS, SBB
Graduation Year: 1985
Major: Medical Technology
Current Position: Senior Director of Technical Services – Community Blood Center of the Ozarks
City and State: Springfield, Missouri
Tell us about your career and what you do now.
After graduating from Evangel University, I was hired to work the overnight shift in a hospital laboratory as a generalist medical technologist. While overnight work was difficult, it was crucial in my career path. I developed a keen interest in transfusion services (blood bank) and eventually became a core team member in the Transfusion Department. I always had a desire to learn and grow, so I took on projects that helped me branch out and gain expertise specific to transfusion services. I played a role in building and implementing several computer systems within the hospital laboratory, upgrading instrumentation, and serving as an instructor in St. John’s School of Medical Technology.
In 2011, I accepted a position at the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks (CBCO) and was appointed as the senior director of technical services in 2016. My previous experience in the hospital gave me direct insight into the needs of healthcare organizations and how best to serve large and small communities in the region. In a nutshell, my present job is to oversee the day to day operations of the various departments of the laboratory, which play a major role in maintaining a safe blood supply and provision of related products for area hospitals.
Additionally, I earned a Specialist in Blood Bank Certification (SBB) from the American Society of Clinical Pathologists. This certification prepared me to lead my team through various challenges related to blood safety such as testing for West Nile virus and Zika virus. Today, I am intricately involved in a clinical trial associated with identifying the efficacy of convalescent plasma as an intervention for seriously ill patients with COVID-19. I could not do my work without the efforts of our community’s unsung heroes – blood, plasma, and now convalescent plasma donors. When Evangel hosts a blood drive, I have a sense of pride knowing that students serve and support the efforts of CBCO and the local community.
What is your favorite memory from Evangel?
Other than chasing my wife, I love reminiscing about the friendships made with guys on my floor and participating in intramural sports. While I did not think it was fun at the time, I remember studying for Dr. Bohanon’s daily 25 point quizzes. They were legendary and could make or break a student. They did not break me.
How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?
Evangel helped me realize that the integration of faith occurred within any profession including the study of biology, chemistry, and eventually the field of medical technology. This was a crucial insight because it prepared me to work in settings where I had a sense that God blessed my work as well as my relationships with co-workers for His purposes.
How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?
Living in a dorm as well as attending a school that had smaller class sizes required me to develop collaboration skills. Evangel gave me a template for future leadership opportunities. For example, when I served as an instructor for the St. John’s School of Medical Technology, I made it a priority to be a hands-on instructor and be accessible like many of my professors were at Evangel. Today, I oversee a team of technologists and technicians who are responsible for insuring a safe blood supply in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas. My time at Evangel planted the seed that it is best to lead by example especially in the context of integrity and compassion.
What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?
Take your studies seriously, yet allow yourself the room to develop relationships with different types of people who can broaden your perspective and speak into your life in a positive way. Even within a laboratory setting where much of the work appears to require significant independence, I cannot overstate the importance of being able to be self and others aware. Adaptability is key.
What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?
Hiring is one of the responsibilities of my current position. I look for individuals who possess certain skills beyond the training requirements for the job. These skills include critical thinking, attention to detail, and communication. Additionally, I look for people who have a track record of being reliable, taking initiative, and willingness to work with a diverse group of colleagues. Overall, the ideal candidate is open to learning and growing in the areas listed above.