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Meet Lorretta – our first statewide pathology collections manager

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27th September, 2023

Lorretta Thomson was a registered nurse in oncology and cardiology before making the move to pathology where she has worked as a collector, trainer and manager.

Let’s get to know her a bit better.


How long have you been with NSWHP

Com­ing up to 6 years now.


How did you end up here? How did you get into the field?

I worked as a Reg­is­tered Nurse in oncol­o­gy and car­di­ol­o­gy for many years before I made the switch to work in pathol­o­gy for the pri­vate sector.

I’ve had many roles in pathol­o­gy as a col­lec­tor, a train­er and a manager.

I was brows­ing online one day and came across an advert for a col­lec­tion train­ing role for NSW Health Pathol­o­gy in the Hunter region.

The idea of a new chal­lenge was appeal­ing, but I loved my job and leav­ing my long-term employ­er was­n’t some­thing I had ever envisaged.

I got brave, applied, and found I was the pre­ferred appli­cant. I approached my man­ag­er and asked for a leave of absence so I could pluck up the courage to explore this new opportunity.

Very gra­cious­ly, they gave me a six-month win­dow where I could return if I was­n’t hap­py in my new role.

But, when I start­ed with NSW Health Pathol­o­gy, I knew I’d found my new home.

Since then, I’ve held sev­er­al roles at NSW Health Pathol­o­gy. The most chal­leng­ing but huge­ly sat­is­fy­ing role was as the Nurse Unit Man­ag­er (NUM) at the COVID-19 dri­ve-through test­ing clin­ic at the Uni­ver­si­ty of New­cas­tle. After that, I was NUM 2IC for col­lec­tions in the Hunter, and now, this new posi­tion as Statewide Col­lec­tions Manager.


Do you have an analogy to help us understand your work?

I see myself as one of those sup­port vehi­cles for a long-haul cycling team. I’m here to help, hope­ful­ly in prac­ti­cal ways. I’m here to keep an eye on the big pic­ture and give ongo­ing sup­port as we progress in our jour­ney as a tru­ly con­nect­ed statewide service.


What are your plans for the role and what are you working on now?

I’ll be doing my part to con­tin­ue the work to stan­dard­ise prac­tis­es with­in the col­lec­tion space. Cur­rent­ly, I’m learn­ing about the dif­fer­ent needs in our col­lec­tion areas across our vast state. Togeth­er, our col­lec­tion man­agers are shar­ing valu­able learn­ings and insights as we become a more inte­grat­ed team.

Our focus is on train­ing our col­lec­tors, recog­nis­ing our front-line staff, high­light­ing our pae­di­atric exper­tise, and improv­ing our ser­vice for all our diverse patients and communities.


What motivates you? What are you passionate about?

Peo­ple are my moti­va­tion and my pas­sion. Work­ing in a team dynam­ic ener­gis­es me. Con­nect­ing and feel­ing a sense of belong­ing makes it easy to come to work each day. I’m com­mit­ted to mak­ing sure our patients receive expert care and the best pos­si­ble expe­ri­ence in a wel­com­ing and safe envi­ron­ment. I’ve always found great sat­is­fac­tion in see­ing patients leave and know­ing that their day is a lit­tle lighter because of their time spent with us – even if the pro­ce­dure itself is less than fun.


What would you be doing if you hadn’t started your career in pathology?

I think I’d be work­ing as an oncol­o­gy nurse. I expect I would’ve stud­ied to become a spe­cial­ist breast care or pro­sta­t­ic can­cer nurse and be part of a team that sup­ports can­cer patients.


What makes you get up in the morning?

Get­ting up in the morn­ing is always easy for me. It’s the best part of the day. I have a mantra that’s got­ten me through some pret­ty tough days and brought extra joy to the good days: ‘Have some­thing to look for­ward to. Find some­thing to laugh about, and do some­thing for some­one else.’ It works for me.


What’s your favourite pastime?

I enjoy music, long walks and spend­ing time with fam­i­ly and friends.


What’s the best advice you were ever given?

Often, rather than react­ing with a straight-up ‘no’ it’s bet­ter to pause, take a breath and say ‘Let me think about that’….and then actu­al­ly go away and think it through with an open mind!


What’s your favourite season?

My favourite time of the year is autumn with lots of sun­shine, blue skies, pret­ty colours and warm days.


What’s your secret talent? Can you tell us a fun fact about you?

No real secrets here. I’m an open book! I do ok on the piano.

Grow­ing up, we moved from state to state every 2 or 3 years. I went to 3 pri­ma­ry schools and 3 high schools and was for­ev­er the ‘new kid’. This led to a con­sis­tent theme in my school reports, ‘Lor­ret­ta would do bet­ter if she focussed more on her class­es and less on social­is­ing’. On the upside, I made many long-last­ing con­nec­tions. On the down­side, maths is def­i­nite­ly not my strength!


Find more infor­ma­tion about pathol­o­gy tests and look up where your local pathol­o­gy col­lec­tion cen­tre is.


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