One of the ways in which the laboratory staff is often distinguished from other allied health professions is the difference in levels of patient interaction.
While nurses and physical, occupational or speech therapists are working with patients all shift long, lab professionals are "behind the scenes," running diagnostics, calculating levels and scanning slides, looking for insidious changes.
Just because you are behind the scenes doesn't mean you don't know what's occurring on the main stage however. As lab professionals, you often know what's wrong with a patient before anyone else. You catch the cancerous cells. You pull the abnormal reports. You often direct physicians on the next steps.
As such, you see the sad stories present in healthcare institutions all over the world every day. Perhaps you've found indications of a fatal disease in a young woman in the prime of her life. Or you are the one to discover a cancer has spread. Maybe you find signs of leukemia in a child.
Though you may never see these patients face to face, you too can feel the compassion and sadness that comes with a poor diagnosis. You too probably go home and look at your family, thankful for their health, but all too aware of how quickly that can change.
How do scary diagnoses affect you on the job, and after a long day? What do you do to combat compassion fatigue? Please share your stories below.