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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

Educators: Orient Students to the Profession Early

Published January 14, 2008 10:46 AM by Glen McDaniel

When I was in medical technology school in North Bay, Canada, I had lots of friends in the nursing program of the same college. We would often compare the programs in terms of workload, difficulty and our perception of the wisdom of choosing our respective professions.

As I recall, the nursing program had a course called "Nursing Seminars: The Profession of Nursing." This was a mandatory one-credit course that involved spirited discussions on the contemporary practice of nursing in Canada: opportunities, challenges, controversies; warts and all!  They sometimes had guest speakers or discussed journal articles; other times they would talk about some current topic.

One of the most disappointing aspects of stepping into a lab as a new graduate, many laboratorians say, is being hit with the reality of the practice of clinical lab science compared to what they had envisioned in school. Many in the profession do not feel connected or engaged.

Students and new grads cannot see the value of professional society membership, attending meetings or professional licensure. Is there an inverse connection between "disengagement" and job fulfillment? Of course there is! How about a sense of empowerment? Absolutely!

One way in which educators could prepare students for "real life" and  full participation in the profession is to engage them in discussions of topical issues while in college-not just academic subjects, but the politics, legislation, bugaboos, challenges and hot topics in the news.

I highly recommend using resources like columns in ADVANCE and this blog as jumping off points. I bet students would enjoy them and become more engaged, savvy, loyal and empowered laboratorians as a result.



Thanks for your input. I am impressed that you had such a class in MT school. I wonder how many others had/have such a course. I'm curious.

I hear from readers on a regular basis who feel disillusioned with the profession and want to pursue greener pastures. very often they ccomplain that "no one" does anything or "they" wont help us. I also hear from individuals who cant see the benefit of professional membership. That's a catch 22 really- organizations cannot effectively represent our interests if they dont have the support, finances and membership base.

On teh other hand, laboratorians cannot see the benefit of voluntarily paying dues to an organization that doesnt positively impact their day to day lives. I am a "joiner", always have been; and I know the benefits of membership first hand. I also know that organizations like ASCLS have really done  a lot to shape the future of the profession and move it forward. But, again, they suffer from not having  the large base that would magnify their voice.

One way to make a difference is to join a local professional membership organization-city, state or region. So many decisions that affect us are made without our input. You would be surprised to know how much diffrence you can make by simply "showing up".

Glen McDaniel January 23, 2008 2:37 PM

As an undergrad in med tech school we did have a similar course. It did well to stimulate interest and membership in the professional organizations for the new grads. Unfortunately on the occasions that I have spoke to my classmates and the class before and after...many have left the field in frustration...and those who did not definitely stopped their professional memberships. They often cite the lack of the professional organizations ability to effect any positive change to the profession or its perceptions. While I do somewhat agree that organizations for the med tech profession are not effective at promoting the profession, and with the low pay associated with med tech careers...are sort of expensive...but I do believe they try...but too many who stay in the field are very disenfranchised and apathetic.

Glenn, Molecular Biology - Doctor January 15, 2008 6:20 PM
Chicago IL

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