3 Questions With Ninette Cohen, PhD

By Team Critical Values - February 22, 2024

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Ninette Cohen, PhD, FACMG, Senior Director in the Division of Cytogenetics, Molecular Pathology and Prenatal Screening, and Associate Professor, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, knew that she wanted to live a purpose-filled life helping people. While she considered pursuing a medical degree, she ultimately decided that pursuing her master’s and then doctorate degree in human genetics was where she could be of most aid for patients. After working for close to a decade in a clinical pediatric hemato-oncology laboratory, she felt there was no other career she’d want to have than in a clinical diagnostic laboratory.

Here, Dr. Cohen shares her insight into her career and her thoughts on the future.

Can you share a specific experience or moment that solidified your decision to choose a career in the laboratory? 

While I was working in the hemato-oncology department towards my MSc degree in Israel, there were many cancer patients from Cyprus who did not speak Hebrew and the doctors did not speak Greek. Given that I am from Greece, I was occasionally asked to translate for these patients. I will never forget the day I was translating to a patient that her test results were good, and she would live. We were crying with happiness together. That was a pivotal moment. Laboratorians are like real life fortune tellers. We see the test results before anyone else and we know what they mean.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the laboratory in healthcare today?

Staffing shortages are the biggest challenge in clinical laboratories nationally. The COVID-19 pandemic brought awareness about all the work performed in the labs and the technologists got the spotlight. Northwell Health, the largest healthcare system in New York, and Northwell laboratories, have been investing for several years in reaching out to high schools, speaking with students, administrators, college counselors, to bring awareness to the field of laboratory medicine. We hope that our continuous efforts to educate and our true enthusiasm and love for this profession will successfully attract more students to clinical laboratories.

What do you hope to leave as your legacy in the laboratory?

I would really hope that people I worked with, my colleagues and friends at work, saw how important it was for me to serve our patients the best way possible. My goal has always been and still is to make the right decisions, put patient care as top priority without compromising or forgetting our staff, the technologists, laboratory assistants, administrative support staff, supervisors, managers and directors. I have always reminded our staff of the importance of work-life balance and that family ultimately comes first. We should always respect and honor our staff and their families.


Team Critical Values

Team Critical Values