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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

New Year's Resolutions

Published January 7, 2009 3:17 PM by Glen McDaniel
It is a brand new year and everyone is talking about their resolutions to be better, slimmer, healthier, more assertive, free of excessive baggage, better paid and all round closer to their vision of an ideal self.

Looking back over some articles I had written a few years ago, I saw one about New Year's resolutions and realized that my view of resolutions has not changed much.

I no longer make New Year's resolutions. Let me explain: most resolutions, though made with the best of intentions, go the way of the woolly mammoth--they become extinct before the year is half-way through. Also, there is something a little desperate and faddish about joining everyone else in a pledge to change on this one day. I neither like setting myself up for failure, nor do I like group-think.

However, as a profession, I think we would do well to deliberately resolve to do the following (taken partially from that article):

Reminisce. It is enlightening, humbling and encouraging to look back and see how far we have come. Today's laboratorian has many more tools at his or her disposal. They can accomplish a lot more, and in less time; but that all this progress grew out of a proud and dignified past typified by skill, initiative and determination.

Advertise. I suggest that this year you take every opportunity to educate and advertise; brag about our fine profession. It is neither modest nor noble to simply bewail the ignorance of others about our profession, while we do nothing to change that image. We ought to proactively seize every chance to advertise.

Get involved. Equally as important as telling what we do is advocating for a more visible, viable role in our wider workplace and in society as a whole.

Innovate. Management guru, Peter Drucker (1998) claims that "Every organization, not just business, needs one core competency-innovation." As competitive as healthcare is these days, as little as we have to work with, it behooves us to increase efficiency while we add value to our customers (physicians and patients). We can do this by offering to be bolder or more innovative. In fact, the mantra might well be "innovate or die."

Take care of yourself. So much of what we perceive in our professional lives is colored by what is happening outside the workplace. One lesson I have learned the hard way is that no job is worth destroying your psyche, your peace of mind, sense of self or family. It is radically important to be able to blow off steam, bounce ideas around and unwind from a stressful day.  

I urge you to find something that resonates for you--running, listening to music, cooking, dancing, meditation, whatever--and regularly indulge in that activity. So important is balance for mental health that I believe in scheduling downtime if that is what it takes to make it seem important and valid enough to accomplish each day.

Without this sense of balance one can easily lose the equanimity that is needed to function effectively at work.

Have a phenomenal 2009!

2 comments

Karen:

It does my heart good to read your comments. Good for you! Years ago, I even had a difficult time with my own family who variously called me a "lab tech", "med tech" and "someone who works in a lab." One uncle even caled me a "lab doctor" because that made more sense to him-and possibly sounded more prestigious.

I would stop the proceedings even at Thanksgiving dinner until everyone got my title and my job right. It became somewhat of a joke as I wore the family down one by one. Over time my siblings and parents voluntarily joined in until all the family friends knew what a clinical lab scientist does.

During my years as a hospital COO, I was proud to state my background as a CLS. Even now, as I do consulting or have reason to be among health care executives, I NEVER say "I worked in the lab". I always  something like " I am a clinical lab scientist by training" or "my undergrad degree is in clinical lab science". When I volunteer for civic organizations, I try to slip that in with as much ease as someone would say " I am a nurse".

I know I have in the past driven it into people's heads with a blunt instrument, but now, I just try to sort of slip it in, even to deliberately get the question "what does a CLS do?". I use all those as teachable moments to enlighten whoever want to listen-and even a few who dont.

Oh, and I never, ever say "I USED to be a clinical lab scientist" or "I WORKED in the lab". Those are also pet peeves of mine because I think they minimize the significance of the profession.

Glen McDaniel January 7, 2009 10:21 PM

Recently I went to my sons sixth grade class and when I "brag" about what I do I always start out by asking the audience "you know what I doctor does.....rightl" and of course everyone nods their head.  I then ask "you know what a nurse does.......right" and again everyone nods their heads.  I follow this question by "so what does a Clinical Laboratory Scientist do?"  The answer 99% of the time is silence.  As much as I would love to stand on top of a mountain and shout to the world about how much I love doing what I do for a living I have to start with smaller audience and hopefully one day I can reach the world.

Karen, Clincial Laboratory Science - Education Coordinator, UND January 7, 2009 8:37 PM
Grand Forks ND

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