BLS Featured CMLSO: Deirdre H. Elder
Tell us about yourself
I am the Radiation Safety Officer/Laser Safety Officer at University of Colorado Hospital (UCH). I earned a BS degree in Engineering Physics from Colorado School of Mines, and taught physics and math while raising my daughter who is now 23 and my son who is 20.
In 2006, I returned to Colorado State University where I earned a Master’s Degree in Health Physics in 2008. While I was working at UCH, the previous LSO decided to relinquish the role and I agreed to take on the responsibility because I believe occupational safety programs are very important. In 2010, attended the Advanced Medical Laser Safety Officer course taught by Vangie Dennis through LIA, where I gained the tools and the confidence to build a more robust laser safety program with participation from clinical and biomedical engineering personnel from throughout the organization.
What challenges have you encountered?
It has been a challenge to bring together the diverse laser users to develop new policies, guidelines and training programs. The most difficult part of the job is finding enough time to do all that I should for laser safety when I also manage the radiation safety program. My favorite part of the job is providing laser safety training to our clinical staff so they can do their jobs well and feel confident that they have the knowledge to protect themselves and their patients.
How has becoming certified benefited you in your career?
I chose to become certified because I wanted to prove to myself, my employer and my colleagues that I am competent to serve as the Laser Safety Officer. It is a sign that I take the responsibilities of the LSO role seriously and have the expertise needed to be effective.