DUBLIN, GEORGIA/GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA: If you asked Gale (Floyd) Murkerson what would be one thing she could teach you out of all of her life – 34 years of being happily married to Don, and 28 years of being a mom to son, Vaughn and daughter, Emily – she might pause a minute, but she would tell you earnestly the following.
“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Each day of life is a day we or someone writes a page in our book,” Gale, a medical technologist/technical supervisor with a major hospital in Gainesville, told The Murphy Gazette recently.
“That book hasn’t been finished,” she continued. “Everyone we come in contact with makes a mark on a page. Some make small marks, while others make huge marks.”
Gale said, “The marks can define who we are at the moment and who we become when the last page is done.” Gale was raised by Christian parents in rural Georgia – where her dad farmed. She has one brother and three sisters – one of whom is her twin.
The Cochran, Georgia native, and Bleckley County High School alum has been a medical technologist for 29 and a half years. Her career is not one she had originally planned on pursuing.
“I didn’t choose my career – God did. What I mean by that is, I had been at Middle Georgia College for three years. I had applied to the Medical College of Georgia to the physical therapy program,” Gale explained. “I didn’t get accepted.”
She said, “I prayed that God would lead me, and they offered to let me apply to the respiratory program. I knew that that was and I said no.” Gale looked at the program catalog to see what program she had the most credits for – and that is when her path took her into the medical technology field.
“I had no idea what it entailed … I had no idea that it was working in a clinical lab – I had never stepped in one in my life, except maybe when I had my blood drawn as a young girl, but I didn’t know that was part of the program,” Gale stated.
A typical day in the life of Gale – the medical technologist/technical supervisor – isn’t really typical. “ One of the biggest misconceptions of my job is people think I draw blood. Well, I do which is a very important part of working in a clinical laboratory, but I actually perform the testing to diagnose. Physicians and mid-level practitioners cannot treat or in some situations diagnose patients without lab results.”
She continued, “As far as a typical day, I wished I could say I had typical days, but I don’t. As a supervisor, safety officer and over quality in the lab, I am not given anything typical. My day usually starts with a meeting with the lab manager and other supervisors over coffee to discuss any staffing issues or other issues related to getting patient results out.”
Gale said, “Then I work on testing benches that need staffing, or in the processing area, or in our customer service area. I work closing with nurse managers and medical directors with addressing issues that are related to the lab.”
“Probably the biggest part of my job is gathering statistical data that guides us in meeting goals such as getting results completed in a timely-fashion.”
Being in Florida Gators’ territory isn’t great for the “die hard Dawgs (Georgia Bulldogs) fan, but I can truly say that working here is the best job I’ve had.”
In her free time, Gale loves to watch college football and baseball, and read. “Mitch Albom is my favorite author … I like to run and listen to podcasts.” She also has gotten interested in her family history.
For 19 years, Gale has been a part of a mission team who does work in the Dominican Republic, along with several members of her family. In helping people, which is one of Gale’s passions, she has relied on her own faith in God, as well as growth she has experienced from personal struggles.
“Hope is faith,” she said, and added, “and faith in God gives me hope.”
Gale continued, “There have been many challenging situations in my life … some I would never have dreamed to overcome – one was my own addiction and then, seeing one of my family members go through an addiction, along with post traumatic stress disorder.” Gale has proven herself to be an overcomer.
“Bad things happen to good people – some so horrible you can’t imagine. What most people don’t know is that it is much easier to stay addicted – whether it is to food, alcohol or drugs that they have chosen to cover their pain. A loved one deals with post traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) due to an abusive situation – you know, most of the time we hear about PTSD everyday with soldiers returning from war. We have been able to get through it all through a lot of therapy.”
Through her own addiction years back, Gale said, “I became more understanding of addicts … back in the 1960s and 70s, and later years, addicts were stereotyped as a ‘pothead’ or a ‘crackhead. There is no stereotype for addicts.”
“Before coming to Gainesville, I traveled with my job and was in the Appalachian foothills in Kentucky,” Gale said. “The area has a big population of IV drug users. When I would go to draw blood on a patient that was in the emergency room, the staff would always alert me to ‘be careful’ because they were an IV drug user- who are more apt to have HIV. I hated that they labeled them as such.”
She continued, “I remember a young man around 21 years old there with his dad. He had tried hard to get clean. I shared my story with him and encouraged him to keep trying. I could see and understand his feelings as well as his fathers.”
added, “It took me a long time to even say I was an addict, but
after seeing so many young people die of overdoses, I had to stand
up and help educate others to addiction and how easily it can
“Just in my small community in Dublin, we’ve lost many to overdose. Many are ashamed to admit it because of being stereotyped. We have to get over that. Everyone has an addiction to something. And it can easily happen to anyone just like it did me.”
She said, “I have been open about my addiction, and I’ve had many people to reach out to me to help with themselves or with a family member. It’s hard to understand when you’ve never been faced with it. I read and educate myself so I can give good advice. Every situation is different.”
“I have many quotes I use for motivation” Gale said. “I have them posted in my car, on the refrigerator and my bathroom mirror. However, the one that I always return to when I’m troubled, and God brings me back to, is Jeremiah 29:11”
She concluded, “ ‘For I know the plans, I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
And that is just good news all around, isn’t it??