Educators: Orient Students to the Profession Early
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.