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Meet the CSTM Board - Joanna McCarthy

Welcome to the “Meet the CSTM Board” blog series! Each month a different position on the board will be spotlighted along with some insider information on the individual in the position. Each blog will follow a different path as each position and individual is unique. We hope you enjoy.

Author: Crystal Brunk, CSTM Director at Large (2022-2024)

Joanna McCarthy, current CSTM President (2022-2024), is someone who is not afraid to get her hand slapped for questioning the norms and for that reason I think the CSTM community nailed it in when they elected her to the board. We are also lucky she did not end up a dental hygienist as suggested by someone early in her training!

The President Position - chief executive officer of the Society.

When asked, “so what does the president do?” Joanna succinctly said they steer the “CSTM ship” which is a nice translation of the wordier bylaws that say “… [the president] shall preside at all meetings of the Members of the Society and of the Board. The President shall have the general and active management of the affairs of the Society and shall see that all orders and resolutions of the Board are carried into effect.” Unlike most board positions where members are elected only for that one position, the President often starts two years beforehand when they are elected as vice president as more often than not vice president is automatically recommended to move to President. For Joanna her involvement with the board started as director then vice president, translation: she had lots of time to pay attention to the operation of the society, ask as many questions as she could, and learn from her predecessors, so when finally becoming President in 2022 she was ready to “rock the proverbial ship”. Joanna started by following advice previously given to her: “when leading an organization you should make personal goals that would benefit the whole membership”, she thus decided to focus her term on the stability and sustainability of the society - when asked to elaborate on that she mentioned things like developing how the society could use grants, negotiating contracts to maximize their potential, and creating more guidance documents and resources to help members do the work they do everyday.

While on the board Joanna has most enjoyed being able to connect with other members from across the country. She learned to appreciate the unique opportunity the society offers to connect with others in-person at education days and conferences but also the society’s new ability to virtually come together for education and networking opportunities.

But why not become a dental hygienist?

Answering this is as simple as looking at Joanna’s motto to life: “You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need” – Mick Jagger/Keith Richards. Originally in school doing a BSc for biological science Joanna realized this was not going to lead to a ‘real’ job and having an expensive passion for horses she looked for what she needed, luckily, she found the MLA course, and jumped in despite not even knowing what phlebotomy was! From there she navigated the health care upheaval occurring in Alberta in the mid 1990’s and successfully got into and finished the MLT program. Initially not enamoured with transfusion medicine, Joanna ended up with a preceptor who changed her mind and career path – thank-you to Donna Lee-Jones at Foothills Medical Center for changing Joanna’s mind as the resulting effect on the transfusion medicine community is without words!

Over the years Joanna has worked as a bench tech, coagulation products/home use lead, blood inventory lead, senior transfusion medicine tech at a pediatric hospital, regional senior technical lead for transfusion medicine, and is now the provincial quality lead for transfusion and transplantation. Bringing a lot of experience to the table Joanna is known for her ability to teach by translating information to suit the needs of her audience no matter their background i.e., MLAs, MLTs, nurses, residents, physicians, and the list goes on. Joanna is also enthusiastic about change and questioning practice to improve processes and patient care, saying that if you can show people how to love something, change is often embraced.

Presidential guidance: ASK for projects. TAKE all opportunities offered. JOIN the CSTM! Doing these simple things will increase your connections and will provide that much needed work fulfillment.

Presidential postscript: Joanna is O Rh negative and P1 negative – my read she is commonly uncommon, compatible with all of us, and unique when you dig in a little!

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