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technician looking at lab sample

The Medical Lab Science Program (MLS) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) has a new director whose mission is to make the only undergraduate program at JABSOM one that will draw students from all over the world. Violet Nxedhlana brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm. Her career has taken her to a variety of locations around the world, including her favorite place, Hawaiʻi.

Developing an online program, relationships

Violet Nxedhlana
Violet Nxedhlana

Nxedhlana has big goals for the MLS program, which include keeping JABSOM med tech graduates in Hawaiʻi, where they can continue to pursue their careers.

“One of the things I am working on this summer is developing an online program to keep our students from the neighbor islands at home,” Nxedhlana said. “No one wants to leave Kauaʻi, Maui or Hawaiʻi Island for two years to complete our program. So if we did an online program, they get to learn, take care of their families, work at their jobs, and stay in the islands. And they provide us with the labor force that we need.” Previously, online programs were only offered by mainland programs and some graduates (after completion) moved to the mainland to work.

Since starting her position in March 2022, she continues to develop relationships with clinical affiliates around the state to do what she can to help improve the clinical rotation experience for med-tech students. She meets with representatives from different clinical labs across Oʻahu to find out how else to better prepare students for their rotations as well as to facilitate their rotation process.

Nxedhlana is in the process of acquiring equipment to demonstrate some of the work the students will be doing when they do their clinical rotations at sites partnered with JABSOM. One of her dreams is to create a classroom environment in the second lab in her department, complete with student desks and a Promethean Interactive Device (a projector and screen in one) for better interaction among students and instructors.

“In a short time, Dr. Nxedhlana has been instrumental in procuring new equipment, which is a huge support for our outstanding faculty; and she is exploring creative and innovative ways of clinical training, that will help to not only enhance the learning experience for the students, but also increase the number of graduates we have because the need is crucial here in the islands,” said Karen Thompson, chair of pathology and interim chair of the Department of Medical Technology at JABSOM.

Making Hawaiʻi home

Nxedhlana was born and raised in Zimbabwe. After high school, she attended college in Texas, where she met her husband Shepherd Maingano, who was not only studying medical technology—he was also from Zimbabwe. Together they discovered their love for Hawaiʻi, where they now have twin boys in elementary school.

Maingano serves as program director for the Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) program at Kapioʻlani Community College.

“We love Hawaiʻi. We would come every December and January for five or six years, and one year we bought one-way tickets because we love Hawaiʻi so much. We’ve been here for 14 years,” Nxedhlana said.

Nxedhlana emphasized how both MLT and MLS students can work anywhere in the world, “even in Zimbabwe!”

Read more on the JABSOM website.

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