By Susan Gallagher
You might think that a third generation native of the small town of Scott City, Missouri, wouldn’t be the sort to seek a career in emergency medicine and end up living in idyllic San Diego and baseball-crazed St. Louis.
But that’s been the path of the enterprising Jake Campbell, who right out of high school studied to be an emergency medical technician. “I finished my EMT training, but there were no openings. I was working in a convenience store when I heard about a job at the Red Cross in Cape Girardeau,” he recalled. Eleven years ago, he joined the American Red Cross. “I remember I was pleased to get paid for going through training on how to register donors and draw blood. The 13 weeks of training included real practice under supervision of experienced staff.”
Jake wasn’t squeamish about being a Collection Tech because his mom was a registered nurse, and he married his high school sweetheart who is now an RN in the emergency room of a large St. Louis hospital. “I was a bit nervous, but excited, about the opportunity, and my supervisor reassured me by explaining how great the training was at the Red Cross. He said the Red Cross works to make sure staff members are fully qualified and that they get opportunities to grow at the organization. He explained that being a Collection Tech was really a customer service job. “It is our role to provide each donor with an amazing experience so every donor returns to give blood,” he said.
While he was happy at the Red Cross, Jake and his wife, who was born in California, had fallen in love with San Diego. In 2014, they headed west where Jake worked in sales—using his customer service experience with donors to attract buyers for Direct TV services.
“We loved the life out there, but not the very high cost of living so when an opportunity came up to return to the Red Cross, I took it.”
In 2016, Jake joined the Red Cross in St. Louis. He moved to Mobile Blood Collection and became skilled in apheresis—the separation of blood components. “This job is more challenging than just drawing blood. It required classroom instruction and shadowing experienced staff. It was a great training program that allowed me to earn college credit.” With a combination of those credits and online courses Jake took on his own, he earned a bachelor’s degree in health care administration.
Now a resident of Maplewood, MO, and the father of two girls and a boy, ages 2 months to 4 years, Jake trains new hires at the Red Cross. He moved up the ladder quickly--promoted, first to Mobile Supervisor and more recently to Mobile Collection Manager for St. Louis.
“The Red Cross has opened doors for me that I never imagined, and I am so excited to continue my growth here.”