For Jenna Flinck, strengthening a culture of quality in the field of genetics testing means keeping track of thousands of moving parts. Working as Quality Assurance Associate is both satisfying and demanding.
Quality professionals like Jenna oversee the quality of everything Blueprint Genetics does. From production and product development, to laboratory operations, bioinformatics, clinical interpretation, and operational excellence: it’s all aimed at strengthening a culture of quality. Jenna and her colleagues respond to any reported nonconformity, investigating the root cause of a problem, creating solutions, and preventing future risks. Process innovation and risk mitigation are their daily bread and butter. “Continuous improvement requires both corrective and preventive actions,” says Jenna.
Developing a genetic test — starting with planning and design all the way to the launch — takes time and patience. “But that is clearly an advantage: one is able to EXACTLY decide what the tests will be like,” Jenna explains. Custom-made. Suitable. Effective. According to Jenna, building on the in-house genetic knowledge and proprietary tools that Blueprint Genetics has is a unique and privileged opportunity. And it is never boring. “Genetics, the science, the technology and the lab environment change all the time; one has to be open-minded and eager to learn to keep up with it,” Jenna says.
Maintaining a culture of quality requires people skills. “Everything is about collaboration,” Jenna notes. Jenna and her colleagues meet up regularly to track progress on a case-by-case-basis and to follow-up with other teams. “It is never just one person or a single perspective, it is a team effort of the whole organisation.”
No wonder Jenna is an expert in her field: with an academic background in Health Sciences and hands-on experience as Biomedical Laboratory Scientist in a wet lab, she knows both theory and practice of genetics testing. And after having gathered extensive work experience in each field individually — a couple of years in clinical genetic testing, followed by 9 years of lab R&D and regulatory affairs focusing on IVD registrations — she took the reins to utilize her insights from both areas. For her, working for the sake of assuring quality, adhering to rules, and meeting standards has a lot to do with translating knowledge: “There is always a rationale behind a regulation, no matter how boring it sounds, one needs to translate law texts into the human context.”
And the human context is packed with purpose. Why care about a regulation? Because in a clinical setting, we and those closest to us are impacted by it. You want to make sure that when treatments, tests, and procedures in medical management involve you, rigorous quality requirements were adhered to. Patient safety should always be the focus: the higher the quality, the higher the chance of a positive impact on one’s wellbeing.
Bringing theory into practice and vice versa is an indispensable ingredient for a long-lasting impact. Knowledgeable employees like Jenna who keep an overview of the dos and don’ts, and who advise on resolving errors and mitigating risks, are crucial – a comprehensive, solid handbook to success.
Blueprint Genetics is a genetic testing company based in Helsinki and Seattle. Our global team of more than 200 exceptional people works across the organization to provide world-class genetic testing to healthcare professionals, so they can provide the best possible care for patients and families with inherited diseases. Whether we work in software development, customer service, the laboratory or the geneticist team, we are committed to the individual ones. Join us and make a difference: careers.blueprintgenetics.com.
Text: Nina Laurinkari
Photo: Anton Sucksdorff