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WoW: Jessica DiStefano

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer
  • 20 Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The Weasel of the Week series asks Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, heroes, experts, and all-around great Airmen to share their likes, dislikes, Air Force spirit and personalities. We sat down with Tech. Sgt. Jessica DiStefano, 20th Fighter Wing Medical Group noncommissioned officer in charge of laboratory services, to get to know her. DiStefano collects and processes 124,000 laboratory tests performed per year for the Medical Support Squadron and is in charge of monitoring the collection and processing for all COVID-19 samples for Shaw AFB.


Please explain your career field and job. 

The Medical Laboratory tests and analyzes specimens of human origin and other substances by established scientific laboratory techniques to aid in diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases or to support medical research. The data the medical laboratory reports accounts for 70% of all information needed by a doctor to diagnose a patient.


How do you affect the wing’s mission capabilities?

The laboratory not only treats active duty but their dependents as well. We make sure everyone within the Shaw AFB family receives the care and compassion they deserve, while making sure our active duty are fit to fight and cleared to deploy.


What inspires you to strive and excel at your job?

Providing excellent care for our patients and aiding in accurate and timely diagnosis’ for their treatment. In the lab, we strive to treat every patient like they are our very own family member


What advice do you have for people coming into your career field?

To be prepared for a fast paced career that is crucial for diagnosing patient’s illnesses.


What is your proudest moment since you arrived here?

Watching my Airmen grow and excel at their job and being recognized for all of their hard work behind the scenes.


How do you define success and how does this definition of success help you succeed in your career field?

I define success by making every laboratory I work at better than when I arrived. I also define my success by the successes of my team. If they are doing great things and getting the recognition they deserve, then I know we are all doing our jobs well.


Where do you see yourself in five years?

In the next five years I hope to have my American Society for Clinical Pathology Board certification as a medical laboratory scientist and hopefully selected for First Sergeant duty.

What is one thing you wish people knew about your job?

I wish people knew how much work the laboratory does behind the scenes. Medical staff either place an order for a specimen collection or drop of a sample, but I do not think they really know all of the work that goes into getting a result. Most people when you say you’re a laboratory tech think all you do is draw blood, but drawing blood is just the first step to the testing process. Like I said before, our results account for 70% of all information needed by a doctor to diagnose a patient.

What impact have you made in your career field and at this base?

I served as a phase I medical laboratory instructor and I had the privilege of mentoring and graduating over 600 laboratory technicians to help serve 58 Department of Defense laboratories. At this base I have supported AD, retirees, and dependents, but I have also cleared over 2,000 deployers to support 28 different Area of Responsibility to include mass COVID-19 testing for an Army Aerial Port of Embarkation mission. I am currently working on bringing COVID-19 testing in-house to our facility.