Danni Franzen was going to get out of town.

Danni Franzen
(George Hipple Photography)

“My former classmates still tease me about that when I go to high school reunions,” said Franzen. “I was so determined to leave, and 25 years later, I’m still here.”

Franzen is the senior director of Ancillary Services at Great Plains Health in North Platte. Her responsibilities include ensuring the clinical and operational success of the laboratory, rehab services, home health and hospice, cardiopulmonary services, clinical nutrition and pharmacy.

It’s a rewarding profession, but wasn’t her original plan. In fact, following her graduation from North Platte High School in 1991, Franzen was like the majority of 18-year-olds in that she didn’t really know what she wanted to do.

She took a test at Mid-Plains Community College to determine what classes might align with her interests and subsequently signed up for the Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) Program.

“It sounded pretty cool, and I liked looking through a microscope,” said Franzen. “I started with Intro to MLT, aced it and fell in love with it.”

Franzen took a job as a MLT at the North Platte hospital following her graduation from Mid-Plains in 1994. She then worked her way up, taking on her current role in August of 2014.

Franzen believes MLT provided a great starting point with numerous opportunities for advancement.

Soil testing, veterinary lab testing, lab equipment marketing and repair, consulting and forensic science were just a handful of careers she could have chosen. The opportunities Franzen was presented with just happened to lead her to hospital administration.

“The MLT profession is great for those who like to tinker and those who are detail-oriented,” said Franzen. “If you want to travel the world, you can do that, and if you like to stay on the cutting edge of technology, then the lab profession is definitely where you need to be.”

Personally, Franzen always found fulfillment in impacting patient care. One of those patients, a car accident victim, lived because of the blood and plasma transfusions Franzen helped give her.

Although most cases weren’t that extreme, Franzen’s work did make a difference in the lives of other people on a daily basis.

“About 75 percent of lab results lead to the diagnosis of a patient and a doctor’s decisions,” Franzen said. “It’s exhilarating to see your testing make a difference. That’s what drove me every day as an MLT – making a difference in somebody’s life. Now, I get to inspire others to be the best they can be as well.”