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Taking a closer look

Ann Ridder, a medical technologist in Augusta Health's laboratory. works second shift.

Medical technologist Ann Ridder performs key lab work for doctors.

The closest most people come to working in a laboratory is their high school science class, but for Ann Ridder it’s her daily routine. Ridder is a medical technologist in Augusta Health’s laboratory, where she works second shift in one of three departments (chemistry, hematology/urinalysis and blood bank/microbiology) on a rotating schedule.

“Every day is different,” says Ridder. “So to describe a day in the life, it depends on which of the three departments I’m assigned to that night.”

A medical technologist performs testing on specimens from the body — blood, urine, tissue and other bodily fluids — and analyzes the results so the physician can best treat the patient. “We are the first line diagnostic team for the physicians,” says Ridder.

A stressful job? “It can be,” she says. “The challenge is keeping everything running in order to make the turnaround times for each specimen.”

Regardless of the hectic schedule, Ridder enjoys her day-to-day duties in the lab, where she has worked since last April 2015. “I love Augusta Health,” she says. “What I like most is the ‘Augusta way.’ The teamwork is great and the management makes you feel extremely valued as an employee.”

The Shenandoah Valley is also a favorite of Ridder’s. “I would never, ever want to live anywhere else after being here,” she says.

A Long Island, New York, native, Ridder remained in the Valley after graduating from Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, Virginia. She then graduated from the School of Medical Laboratory Science, which is now Sentara RMH Medical Center, in Harrisonburg, Virginia, in 1990.

On her days off, Ridder stays busy with her husband, two teenage children, two dogs and two cats. She enjoys gardening and has been singing tenor in the Shenandoah Valley Choral Society for about 10–15 years.

Some believe robots will ultimately take over lab work in the future. Ridder doesn’t agree. “A computer can’t replace us looking at a specimen and recognizing that something isn’t right,” she says. “It’s the diagnostic part that really makes the career.”