Dr. Karen Karni earned her bachelor’s degree in medical technology at the University of Minnesota in 1963. After working, teaching, and earning her master’s degree elsewhere, she returned to the University as an instructor in the medical technology program in 1970. She earned her Ph.D. in education at the University in 1985 and was promoted to assistant professor in 1981, associate professor in 1989, and full professor in 1996. Dr. Karni also served as director of the medical technology program from 1984 until her retirement in 2000.
Dr. Karen Karni begins her interview with an overview of her educational history and how she came to be director of the medical technology program at the University of Minnesota. She then, in more detail, discusses the following: her interest in medical technology; her time as an undergraduate student at the University; generalist and specialty work in medical technology; her work in Bar Harbor, Maine and Virginia, Minnesota; and her time at State University of New York at Buffalo. In reviewing her time at the University of Minnesota in the medical technology program, Dr. Karni covers the following topics: working with Verna Rausch; changes in the curriculum; her doctoral research and certification exams for laboratory personnel; the hierarchy within which laboratory personnel work; the culture of the Medical School and the Rajender Consent Decree; Ellis Benson’s tenure as chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology; Dave Brown’s tenure as chair; Leo Furcht as chair; her work with the Minnesota Society for Medical Technology; relationships among the divisions within the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology; her appointment and tenure as director of the medical technology program; her work through Project Hope and the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences; the changing demography of students within the medical technology program; and the tenures of several vice presidents of the Academic Health Center. She goes on to consider changes in medical technology more broadly, evolving requirements for tenure, simulation in medical technology education, and automation in the field. She concludes with thoughts on how the University’s medical technology program fits in the history of laboratory science.
Dr. Karen Karni was born in Soudan, MN in 1941. She graduated from Tower-Soudan High School in 1959 and completed her bachelor’s degree in medical technology at the University of Minnesota in 1963. After graduating from the University, she worked as a practitioner at the Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor, ME and then in the hospital labs at Virginia Municipal Hospital in Virginia, MN. Dr. Karni then returned to the east coast as a faculty member in medical technology at the University of Buffalo, where she also completed her Education Master’s degree (EdM) in 1969. Dr. Karni retuned to the University of Minnesota in 1970 when her husband, Dr. Michael G. Karni, began a graduate program. She became an instructor, student advisor, and faculty member in the University’s medical technology program. In 1975, she began her doctoral work in education, which she completed in 1983. Dr. Karni became an assistant professor in 1981, an associate professor in 1989, and a full professor in 1996. She also served as the director of the medical technology program from 1984 until her retirement in 2000.