COLA Give Back Day
Not only does Medical Laboratory Professional’s Week (MLPW)
celebrate the services provided by laboratorians throughout the year, but now
it provides a platform from which to educate the public about the roles of
these professionals and the potential for employment within the industry.
Originally part of the “COLA Cares” initiative, “Give Back Days” began during
MLPW 2011. In a recent interview with James Liggins, Chief Marketing Officer at
COLA, he described the intended purpose of the “Give Back Days,” as well as the
effect they have had on the industry overall.
“The reality is that, while job growth in this sector is
faster than average, clinical laboratories across the nation have reported
difficulties in recruiting new staff,” said Liggins. “This program is COLA’s
way of helping to alleviate that worker shortage in the future.”
After the initial success of the MLPW 2011 Give Back Day in
Baltimore, Md., COLA has continued the program annually, expanding to include
local high schools, community colleges, universities and other venues. As the
program has expanded, COLA staff members give presentations describing a day in
the life of the typical medical laboratory professional, demonstrate simple
laboratory tests and conduct fun experiments with participants.
“Our program now includes additional career presentations at
schools, science expos and other venues; mentoring opportunities for interested
students; and expanded scholarship support aid for students interested in
medical laboratory careers,” explained Liggins.
COLA’s Give Back Days feature a number of campaigns to
increase awareness of the laboratory’s role in the healthcare industry and
promote it as a viable career option. In addition to the outreach and
continuing education programs offered during Give Back Day, COLA also offers
scholarships to aspiring laboratorians and endowments to education programs
catering towards future medical laboratory technologists.
“We are also
launching a course for allied health professionals, emphasizing the components
of good clinical laboratory practices,” continued Liggins. “Designed for nurses
and other healthcare personnel who work in hospitals, clinics and physician’s
offices, the course will provide non-laboratorians with a basic knowledge of
quality laboratory testing procedures in healthcare settings.”
The course, “Fundamentals of Clinical Laboratory Testing,”
will be offered through Howard Community College’s continuing education
program. COLA hopes to expand the
program elsewhere throughout the U.S. in the future.
MLPW is a time to celebrate the work of laboratories across
the country, but why not use the spotlight to promote the profession among the
rest of the industry and potential co-workers? In addition to their Give Back
Days, COLA is also in the process of implementing “COLA Giving Back 365 Days a
Year,” which will expand on areas already covered and include a new disaster
relief program. AS Part of MLPW, COLA encourages laboratories everywhere to
take part in COLA’s Give Back program with a free kit offered on their website