National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week 2010
Next week we will be celebrating the 35th anniversary of National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (NMLPW), known to most as simply, "Lab Week."
Celebrated April 18 through 24, and sponsored by 10 laboratory organizations, this year NMLPW has the catchy theme "Laboratory Professionals Get Results." This will be an opportunity to celebrate our contribution to the healthcare landscape and to strut our stuff before other healthcare professionals, the public and patients.
Laboratorians all over the country are devising innovative ways of celebrating. Some will have tours, lunches and special ceremonies. The Georgia chapter of ASCLS (ASCLS-GA) has obtained a special proclamation from the governor of the state announcing NMLPW. My friend Dr. Hassan Aziz from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia has secured an official NMLPW proclamation from the mayor of the city.
Generally,requests for official proclamations sent to governors and mayors are accompanied by an educational packet from which they pull the facts mentioned in the proclamation they issue. Sometimes they follow-up to ask additional questions about the profession. In any event, they are educated in the process, and those who read the proclamations are educated. This is a great way to look outwards and let others know who we are and what we do.
During lab week, most laboratorians look forward to all the cool free stuff-magnets, tee shirts, lunches and breakfast courtesy of administration, or one of the few vendors that still offer such perks these days.
A couple of years ago, I wrote the following and it's just as true today as it was then.
The week is about way more than hanging banners, wearing cool t-shirts and celebrating within 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, MLTs? What's the difference in training, roles and the departments they represent within the lab?
We have a real opportunity that we mostly squander each year by looking inwards way too much. We can wear cool t-shirts, eat good food and educate all at the same time.