Skip to content
All posts

EQA Coordinator Anna-Riitta Vanhanen Retires After 34 Years of Service

EQA Coordinator, Master of Science, and biochemist Anna-Riitta Vanhanen is retiring in the autumn of 2024 after working at Labquality since 1990, primarily focusing on chemistry rounds.

Her responsibilities have been diverse; she has always overseen several quality assessment rounds as an EQA coordinator and worked as a key member and secretary in various working groups.

"The work has been varied and diverse. I know how important this work is. High-quality laboratoryLQ_people_circle_Anna-Riitta_cyan_390x390 results are crucial because everyone must visit a laboratory at some point, for whatever reason. Good results are vital for treatment," says Anna-Riitta.

She has been an important part of Labquality's growth from a small Finnish provider of external quality assessment to its status as a global quality provider.

"Labquality has evolved a lot over the past 30 years; originally, we were just a Finnish company, but then we expanded to the Nordic countries, and now we are already a large international company."

Over the years, with internationalization and growth, work as an EQA coordinator has also changed and evolved.

"At first, the work was only in Finnish, but it has changed and become more diverse. There are different challenges when new countries join because the level of performance can vary, and it takes time for everyone to reach the same level."

Anna-Riitta has also developed new products and participated in the design of Labquality's IT systems. According to her, the best part of the job has been when customers succeed.

"I have also had the pleasure of working with great colleagues. The working groups have helped us a lot, and the experts know what is happening in the field. Good scheme experts are one of our assets. Although the work has been challenging, it has been enjoyable and rewarding."

In early February, Anna-Riitta was awarded the Quality Excellence Award for her work in quality at the Labquality Days congress.

"It was a great recognition. It's nice that my work has been appreciated. It's great to be part of the Labquality team, and I am grateful that I have been able to do this work for so long."

Anna-Riitta is relaxed about the upcoming lifestyle change that retirement will bring. Initially, she plans to relax and adjust to the new phase of life.

"It's time to move forward, let go of these threads, and grab hold of some other threads," she describes.

"I haven't planned exactly what I'll do in retirement yet, but I'll certainly read e-books, enjoy outdoor activities, and exercise more."

A warm thank you to Anna-Riitta for her contribution and dedication to important quality assessment work over the past 34 years. The entire Labquality team wishes her a happy retirement!


Biochemist Hanna Heikkilä Steps into Anna-Riitta Vanhanen's Shoes

Hanna Heikkilä, PhD, biochemist, started as an EQA coordinator at Labquality in early February and will take charge of Anna-Riitta Vanhanen's external quality assessment rounds when Anna-Riitta retires in the autumn of 2024.

LQ_people_circle_Hanna H_cyan_390x390"I will coordinate several EQA rounds that have been Anna-Riitta's responsibility, including calprotectin, with which I have worked previously at HUS Diagnostic Center (HUS Helsinki University Hospital) as a hospital laboratory technician. I will deliver samples to the clients, and after receiving their results, I will compile reports, including comments from the scheme expert. The EQA schemes help the clients monitor their performance and results and, if necessary, take corrective actions according to their quality system."

It is a great advantage that Anna-Riitta, as an experienced professional, will get Hanna up to speed with the coordination of EQA rounds. They will have several months of overlap before Anna-Riitta retires.

Hanna holds a PhD in biochemistry. She has a strong background in atherosclerosis research and the impact of inflammation on plaque vulnerability. During her career, she completed her PhD at the Wihuri Research Institute. She continued research in Perttu Lindsberg's research group in the Molecular Neurology Research Program (Biomedicum Helsinki, University of Helsinki), where she participated, among other things, in collecting clinical patient cohorts.

"Then, the clinical side began to interest me. I started a job at HUS Diagnostic Center, where I analysed the levels of calprotectin and immunosuppressive drugs in patient samples. It was quite a difference to work at the hospital laboratory compared to the research laboratory", Hanna explains.

Hanna joined Labquality from Vita Laboratories, where she worked as a chemist responsible for subcontract analytics. Hanna became interested in the EQA coordinator's work because it would allow her to combine her clinical and research expertise.

It immediately felt like this could be a suitable position for me. The coordinator's role interested me, and the possibility to work with research and development made the job even more appealing." At Labquality, Hanna is a part of the EQA Solutions Research & Development team.

"The first few weeks have been very nice and interesting. There is a lot to take in, but gradually, things are starting to fall into place," Hanna says.

"I am particularly looking forward to learning new interesting tasks and getting to know my new colleagues. It is also interesting to start seeing the field of clinical chemistry from a slightly different perspective."

In the future, Hanna will be responsible for, among other things, the following external quality assessment rounds:

  • Albumin and creatinine in urine
  • Acid-base status and electrolytes
  • Haemoxymeters
  • Faecal calprotectin
  • Faecal elastase
  • Urine bacterial screening with automated analyzers
  • Urine quantitative chemistry
  • Urine strip test A
  • Urine strip test B, particle counting, and estimation of density

Share this article

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to hear the latest news in the industry and keep track of what's happening behind the scenes.