The Blood Bank Guy: A Conversation with Dr. Joe Chaffin Part I

This year the SCABB Publications Committee caught up with Dr. Joe Chaffin to have a conversation about his website,, and his thoughts on the blood bank field.  The following is our Q&A:

  • Many have seen the previous article in the Nov/Dec/Jan 2014 edition of the PULSE or are familiar with your website, Blood Bank Guy. But there’s still more to ask and know about you as one of the most well-known transfusion medicine specialists online and in social media.  How is it being a public voice and educator for our industry?

o   I’ve never really thought of myself as “well-known!” I am always shocked any time someone meets me in a hospital or at a meeting and they say, “Blood Bank Guy?” (it’s usually that way, with a question mark at the end!). I recognize that the number of people that visit my site has led to a certain notoriety, but that’s never been my aim. My goal is nothing more than the last part of your question, to be an educator. Because of that, I am very conscious that what I say and do can impact others. I guess the best answer is that I just try to be “me,” saying things that I believe and teaching things that I have studied. I don’t think that should ever change regardless of the level of my visibility!

  • What compelled you to go into Transfusion Medicine?

o   In accordance with the wishes of the United States Army Medical Corps, my first year after medical school was spent in a transitional clinical internship before my pathology residency. I am forever grateful, because having clinical experience shaped the rest of my career. My personality is mostly introverted, and I love to study theoretical principles, but I realized early in my pathology training that I missed patient contact. During my first Transfusion Medicine rotation in my first year of residency, I experienced the perfect combination of patient and donor contact AND theoretical thought. Further, I was challenged by an excellent group of mentors (both physicians and SBBs), and I learned more than I could have imagined. I fell in love with Transfusion Medicine, and that feeling has never gone away!

  • How have professional organizations/conferences impacted your professional development and education? How do you see the value in attending a large conference versus participating in a small webinar/education session?

o   My view on large meetings has changed in recent years, and it’s largely due to a proliferation of available online education. I think more and more people are growing tired of attending monstrous meetings such as the AABB Annual Meeting. For twenty years, I delivered blood bank review sessions at a live board preparation course for pathology residents, and I saw attendance there dwindle, too. In my opinion, people are less willing to fly somewhere and sit in a sweaty conference room and eat lousy hotel food when they can learn so much sitting in front of their computer or holding their phone or tablet in their hand (while wearing pajamas, if they feel like it!). Is that trend “better?” I’m not sure, because I do think that missing out on networking opportunities at conferences is unfortunate. I am sure, though, that things are not going back to what they were. 

Additional questions to consider:

Have you thought about why you are in this field and what difference you are making?

How can we best reach out and educate others about transfusion medicine? 

Do you want to be more involved in the blood bank community?  Consider joining a SCABB Committee or participating in your local professional organization.  For more information on SCABB participation please email

 Visit for more Blood Bank Guy educational content and information.

 Tomorrow: The Blood Bank Guy: A Conversation with Dr. Joe Chaffin Part II

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