Lab Week Is About More Than Food and T-Shirts
This year National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (NMLPW) will be observed April 20-26. The theme this year is National Medical Laboratory Professionals: Delivering Today's Results for a Healthier Tomorrow.
Sponsored by 10 laboratory organizations this year (it's remarkable that any organizations can agree on anything) NMLPW is designed to highlight the importance of the nation's more than 260,000 clinical laboratorians.
Started by ASCLS (then called ASMT) in 1975, the week has been anticipated by laboratorians over the years because it is an opportunity to celebrate and toot our own horns a bit. In the Fall of 2005, the word "professional" was added to the title to emphasize that the celebration is about living, breathing, smart, dedicated individuals and not simply a room--"the lab."
One of the things most laboratorians look forward to during lab week is all the cool stuff--magnets, t-shirts, lunches and breakfasts courtesy of administration or one of the few vendors that still offer such perks.
That's all well and good, but the week is about way more than hanging banners, wearing cool t-shirts and celebrating in the lab. For one thing, this is no time for false modesty or insularity. Sing your own praises and loudly applaud each of your colleagues. By all means, provide tours and free testing, but also take time to educate healthcare colleagues and the public about the training and important role of the clinical laboratorian.
Who are all these people in the black box called "the lab?" What do they do to produce a valid result? What's their educational preparation? What are the relative roles of phlebotomists, customer service reps, lab assistants, CLS/MTs? What's the difference in training, role and specialties?
We have a real opportunity that we mostly squander each year by looking inward way too much. We can wear cool t-shirts, eat good food and educate all at the same time.