Maribeth Flaws, PhD

Associate Professor  
Department of Medical Laboratory Science, College of Health Sciences
Role: Faculty
Joined Rush in 1987


I have been teaching in the medical laboratory science program for over twenty years. I started my career at Rush working in the clinical microbiology laboratory, and I have since been fortunate enough to teach microbiology in a variety of programs at Rush, including the Medical College, the Advanced Practice Nursing Program, the Physician Assistant Studies Program, and the B.S. in Health Sciences Program. I am also involved in accreditation as a site visitor and peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission, the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), and the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). I currently serve on the Board of Directors for NAACLS and as a Commissioner on the ARC-PA.

What inspired you to get into your field?

I first became interested in science and medicine while watching TV shows like Quincy, M.E. and Fantastic Voyage as a kid. In college, my favorite subjects were immunology and microbiology, and my interest in these subjects led me to study them in graduate school. I became interested in medical laboratory science as a profession while working in a clinical microbiology laboratory, isolating and identifying organisms. Every time I see the vital impact that laboratory tests have on patient care, I am further energized to stay and recruit others into this fantastic profession.

What excited you about your work at Rush?

Medical laboratory science is an exciting profession with lots of opportunity. Seventy percent of medical decisions are based on the results of laboratory tests, and so it is vital that medical laboratory scientists be well-educated and certified to perform high-quality tests. Rush University produces clinical laboratory personnel of the highest caliber, and I am proud that my position gives me the ability to teach the next generation of lab professionals.

What is your opinion of mentoring and sponsorship? Please comment about your experiences.

We all benefit from having both formal and informal mentors. I have been watching and learning from my colleagues since I started my career, and whether they know it or not, my mentors have helped shape the type of professional I am today. I am honored to be able to mentor others directly through the mentoring program and indirectly through my actions.

Do you have tips or advice you would recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

Just do it! Medical laboratory science is an extremely worthwhile profession with lots of leadership opportunities and much potential to contribute to excellent patient care. Our profession is growing, and the medical world is finally realizing the true value of our knowledge and skills. Our scope of practice is about the principle, purpose, and interpretation of laboratory tests. More and more clinicians are seeking out our advice in ordering laboratory tests and in interpreting the results of those tests, and with our assistance, costs of patient care are decreasing and fewer unnecessary lab tests are being ordered. Laboratory professionals are extremely valuable members of the care team, and we are being finally recognized for our contributions. The future of our profession is truly bright!

What are your hobbies? How do you like to spend your free time?

I enjoy gardening, as well as playing the flute in a community band and in a church contemporary music ensemble.