Mary Beth Ogden Obetz was inspired to a career in medicine by her father, who was a physician, as well as by an opportunity she had early on to tour a hospital laboratory. After earning a diploma from Central High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1973, she joined Tennessee Tech University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in medical technology in 1977. Achieving her license in medical technology in the state of Tennessee, she began her career as a medical technologist in 1976. From there, she served in a variety of roles, including supervisor, lead technologist and quality technologist before joining the Lebanon VA Medical Center in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, as a medical laboratory scientist in 1993.
With the Lebanon VA Medical Center, Ms. Obetz has spent time as both a lead technologist and a quality technologist, positions that saw her in charge of all the lab equipment, keeping the lab’s accreditation up to date, running safety and education programs, personnel evaluation, new employee training, and more. She notably stands out in the field for her emphasis on teaching her employees and students the theories behind the work they are doing and what that means within the larger health care process. To young and aspiring professionals, she would pass on the advice to never give up, and that there are always new avenues for your talents. Ms. Obetz retired from the Lebanon VA Medical Center in 2015.
Attributing much of her success to her passion, Ms. Obetz was motivated throughout her career by how rewarding it was to be able to help doctors diagnose patients so that said patients could receive the appropriate care. An expert in hematology, she notes that some of the highlights of her career were the opportunities she had to work with frozen blood during her time with the U.S. Army. She did work at a blood donation center at Fort Knox, where she collected soldiers’ blood that was then sent out around the world, and was also involved in Operation Desert Storm, helping to obtain and freeze blood for storage on hospital ships in the event of emergencies. A more local career highlight for Ms. Obetz was being able to participate in career day at a local elementary school, where she spoke to fifth graders about medical laboratory science.
Alongside her primary responsibilities, Ms. Obetz was involved with a variety of professional organizations in order to keep abreast of developments in her field. A member of Phi Kappa Phi, she has also been affiliated with the American Society for Clinical Pathology and the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science. Active in her community as well, she has spent time as a volunteer docent with the North Museum of Nature and Science and as a choir member and volunteer with her local church. Her church activities range from teaching Sunday school and chaperoning youth trips to working with a local mission that does blood drives and involving herself in various charitable endeavors, such as gift drives to collect things like toiletries and school uniforms and providing meals for hospital patients. Looking toward the future, Ms. Obetz hopes to continue to dedicate her time to her civic endeavors and give back to her community.
For her excellence, Ms. Obetz has been the recipient of a number of honors and accolades throughout her career. Having received several outstanding reviews during her tenure at the Lebanon VA Medical Center, she was presented with the New Supervisor of the Year Award in 2008 along with several Awards of Excellence and other service awards. She has also been the recipient of a 40-Year Certificate of Recognition from the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science. Above everything, Ms. Obetz hopes to leave a legacy a someone who was friendly and thorough in her work.