Celebrate NMLPW Differently This Year
Next week, clinical laboratorians all over the country will be celebrating National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (NMLPW). Observed during the last full week in April each year-this year April 24-30- NMLPW is in its 36th year and celebrates the important contributions that are made every day to healthcare and public health by all laboratory professionals. It is sponsored by 13 laboratory professional organizations, demonstrating an unusual show of unanimity among laboratory groups. There are an estimated 300,000 practitioners of laboratory science in the United States.
As in years past laboratorians will observe the week by wearing t-shirts and having special food functions. There might be raffles, banners and tours of the laboratory. In recent years I have become disappointed by the inward-looking focus of NMLPW. Sure, it is important to pat ourselves on the back and give kudos to each other. It is certainly welcome when vendors bring us donuts or sponsor a lunch.
However, I contend this is a great time to look outwards; educating, venturing outside the laboratory, stepping into the breach normally occupied by other professionals. Launch a cooperative effort with nursing or dietary or pharmacy or the medical staff; piggy back on their visibility and show how laboratorians are a valuable, educated and equal part of the patient-care team.
This is also a time to engage laboratorian and get them involved in professional organizations. How about a town hall meeting with other neighboring labs in which issues of licensure, employee shortage and the future of the profession are discussed?
We are a maturing profession but have struggled with being recognized as one of the adults in healthcare. NMLPW is an opportune time for us to have an adult conversation about where we are, where we are going and what we want to look like in the next 10 to 20 years.
We can still be adorned in t -shirts and feast on goodies, but those activities by themselves are so passé because they have no lasting effect on anyone.