Dayna Geralts '03
WHAT I'M DOING NOW
I graduated from Edgewood College in December 2003 with a BS degree in Psychology. I am the Manager of Clinical Affairs in the Molecular Diagnostics Division at Hologic, Inc., a women's health medical device company. I manage domestic and international clinical studies for our InVitro Diagnostic products. I am responsible for ensuring our clinical studies are accurately designed and follow FDA regulations.
The majority of my position is dedicated to studies for our Cervista® HPV tests. The Cervista HPV HR test can detect 14 high-risk types of the Human Papillomavirus in cervical specimens while the Cervista HPV 16/18 test can detect HPV types 16 and 18, which are the most likely to cause cervical cancer.
In March 2009, the FDA approved both tests. I coordinated the clinical trial responsible for generating data to support the submissions to the FDA. Our study enrolled more than 4,000 women across 46 clinical centers. I am also managing the Post-Approval Study which follows women with normal cytology results for 3 years. We have recently completed a study in China with an investigator who screened 10,000 women for cervical cancer with our products. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to China to assist in the study initiation.
A significant portion of my position is managing vendors such as Contract Research Organizations and Molecular Laboratories which execute our studies. This allows me to work from my home and travel across the country.
HOW I DECIDED ON AN UNDERGRADUATE PSYCHOLOGY MAJOR
Beginning in high school, I was fascinated with the study of human behavior and clinical research. After taking a few psychology courses in my freshman year of college, I knew that the unique combination of studying research methods and behavior was the right path for me.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I LEARNED AT EDGEWOOD THAT I'VE BEEN ABLE TO APPLY IN MY WORK
I think that the most important skill I developed at Edgewood was critical thinking. In classes such as Research Methods with Dr. Babler, Evaluating Psychology Research with Dr. Lambert, and Abnormal Psychology with Dr. Rastogi, we were challenged to not only learn the material, but also to apply it to our lives and different situations. These classes were not dedicated to memorization and regurgitation, but to the goal of thinking independently and applying these skills throughout life.
Clinical Research is unique in that you can apply the same principles to any drug or device. Once you have learned about clinical research design and FDA regulations, you can work in multiple industries. Even though I am no longer working in the psychiatry field, I can apply most of the principles learned in research-based classes.
THE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE I'D GIVE A CURRENT UNDERGRADUATE PSYCHOLOGY MAJOR TO MAKE THE MOST OF THEIR EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AT EDGEWOOD
Become an active participant in your education. Learning goes beyond studying for exams and writing papers in your classes. Ask your professors if there are projects you can help with, perhaps in a teaching assistant role. Be creative and find opportunities to go above and beyond the minimum requirements in your classes. You will be expected to continuously "raise the bar" in your career, so the best time to start is now.
WHAT PSYCH MAJORS CAN DO OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM TO PREPARE FOR THEIR CAREERS
Participate in research with your professors, participate in internships, interview people in professions that you are interested in, and join organizations such as Psi Chi. If you are able to complete research projects, request funds to present at a regional or national meeting. These opportunities allow you to network, observe professionals in their work environment and explore new career paths that may not be discussed in your classes. Many career paths are just being developed in psychology/psychiatry and clinical research. The only way you will learn about these opportunities is to get out into the field.