Would-be zookeeper thrives in hospital

Switching career focus from animals to people proved to be just the right move for a medical technologist.

Growing up, 25-year-old Leslie Delk loved animals and science. She dreamed of becoming a zookeeper. After earning a biology degree and working in veterinary medicine, she realized animal care opportunities are often limited.

Friends who worked at Norton Healthcare suggested she apply for a phlebotomist job at Norton Hospital. She was hired and started working in the hospital’s lab in August 2013.

As it turns out, working with four-legged patients provided a good transition to working with two-legged ones.

“It’s great to find something you really love,” Delk said.

With the encouragement of co-workers and supervisors, Delk applied to the Norton Healthcare Scholar Program and was selected in 2014. The program provides forgivable loans to students pursuing or continuing a health care-related degree in exchange for a commitment to work for Norton Healthcare after graduating.

She entered Bellarmine University’s 18-month accelerated medical technologist degree program, while continuing to work as a student clinical technician at Norton Children’s Medical Center. She completed her degree in December 2015 and passed her board certification test in February.

Delk currently works in Norton Hospital’s immunology lab and still works as needed at the children’s medical center. She appreciates the support and funding she has received from Norton Healthcare’s Workforce Development department and has set her sights on two new dreams: earning a master’s degree and becoming a lab supervisor.

“I like being a part of helping set goals and figuring out how to get things done,” she said.

The busy Fern Creek resident enjoys running and weightlifting. Thanks to working 10 years at her family’s café, she’s a whiz beignet maker. Delk is single but has two “best fellas” —O’Malley and Reese — her beloved cats.

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