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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

Do Not Trust Anyone Under Forty?

Published January 21, 2013 1:59 PM by Glen McDaniel

You cannot attend any professional conference without seeing at least one presentation on the intergenerational workplace. There are entire cottage industries dedicated to addressing the work ethic, learning styles and dedication of the various age groups found in the typical workplace.

Interestingly, most of the lessons are directed at baby boomers who tend to be in positions of authority because they have been around longer.  In addition to Boomers (those of us born between 1946 and 1964) there are Generations X and Y. There is even a Generation Z (those born after 1995) poised to enter the workforce.

Presentations are usually upbeat when they talk about the fact that different generations have different values and beliefs regarding family, career, the work/life balance, training and development, loyalty, gender roles, the work environment and expectations of leaders. It makes sense that managers learn to harness strengths and address priorities in order to get the most out of their employees.

Privately, however, there is often a lot of head shaking and eye rolling from us Boomers. We might have our issues with being overly loyal to employers, detail oriented and define ourselves in terms of our work and formal roles or titles.  But those "youngsters" are just sloppy, have no loyalty, cut corners and are more concerned with their social life than work.

Many of us are from a generation that was, in our youth, fond of saying, "Don't trust anyone over 30." Now the sentiment is closer to, "Don't trust anyone under 40." For many older laboratorians studying Generations X and Y is akin to learning tricks on how to treat an animal to avoid being bitten. Where's the love?

Many Boomers were lumbering towards retirement with the clear goal of relinquishing the reins to younger workers in the very near future. Because of the economy and the fact many of us are not financially stable enough to retire, we may well continue to work for a few more years. Some will formally retire but continue to work part time, possibly reporting to a Gen X or Gen Y boss.

That also means, Gen X, Y and Z, that you are going to be rid of us as quickly as you thought. We might be around for a while longer.

So it behooves us all to see that interacting with different generations is not merely a short-lived inconvenience. We have much to teach and to learn. We can both give and receive. But for the foreseeable future we will have to learn to draw on our respective strengths, rather than merely tolerate each other.



Have you ever used your credit card to make a panyemt at your financial?  At the credit union I work at, if someone wants to use their credit card to make a loan panyemt or even put money in their account, we swipe their card as a cash advance.  The checks that you get with your credit card statement are the same as a cash advance, I believe, so be careful!  I would call the credit card company and ask when the cash advance was done and double check your statement for that month.

Andrew Andrew, ahFbvLOJnbDjCHe - ULUWkxIzPFvyiNakgr, kdXlCSRZwBCZp March 2, 2013 8:31 AM

Gayle, Barbara, Miranda, Brian,%0d%0a%0d%0aI just want to say how grateful I am to you "Old Heads." I say that with great respect too. Being a new MLT is a second career for me. I was a paramedic in a former life and had exposure to the lab while working overseas with the military. In my paramedic world( before I understood what lab values really meant) I had no idea how much information they reveal about a pt. It helped me to make better decisions for my pts. when I worked in a remote clinic in the middle of Iraq. I was amazed, and even more amazed by the people interpreting and running the tests behind the scenes. %0d%0a%0d%0aI am 42 yrs. old and I chose the laboratory profession mainly because of its ability to unravel the mysteries of a pt's condition, but because of the "Old heads." %0d%0a%0d%0aI am still a rookie (one yr. MLT), but I am grateful to ALL the experienced laboratory workers, who have contributed to my success. It is because of these people that I truly understand and know how to function within the lab environment. %0d%0a%0d%0aUnfortunately, my college experience did not prepare me for lab field, not because of inadequate professors, but more in part due to the fact our school had such a small budget. School gave me the fundamentals, but  touched the surface of what we needed to know technology wise. Now, for those of you that may have had a better school experience due to a larger budget, then  you probably don't feel the same way that I do. %0d%0a%0d%0aPlease know, these people you may see as "dinosaurs" have so much to offer. My experience working with these folks is that they know lots of "safe" shortcuts and tips on how to make your job/daily rountine simpler so you're not bogged down with items that are not priority. They are the best at multi-tasking and many times they are just trying help you make better use of your time so that you can go and enjoy that life outside work you so long for. %0d%0a%0d%0aTake them up on their advice if they are willing to give it. I have found that most are flattered by your asking for help. I am not saying that there aren't some "crusty' lab workers walking amongst, I'm just merely pointing out that their seriousness shouldn't be taken so seriously. Take their commitment as someone who wants to leave their profession knowing they have passed on everything they know might help the person following behind them. Remember most of these people you are talking about are the folks who actually had to calculate L. Jennings charts by hand! LOL They have a world of knowledge to tap into to and we are being the the sharp people that we are (because it takes cool, unique,

Krista C February 18, 2013 11:55 AM

I am with Gayle. I know it is now cute and trendy to say everything old is bad. We have new shiny toys, smart phones and now w ehave new med techs/medical lab scientists.

It is not that we are so much wiser and better than the young people it's just that we care about our work. We remember when we did everything manually and recall when doctors held on until we gave them  that one crucial result to treat  a patient.  We used to communicate with each other and the doctor.

We knew the result would decide if the patient went home or went to surgery. Sometimes the doctor would let us know the outcome. We would check and recheck our result. We would start a test over if we had any doubt we missed a step. We would give up lunch to ficnish something we started instead of just saying it is lunch time See ya!

Now, we can  throw a speciemn on an instrument,  get a result and  release it without even thinking about the result and the patient it is attached to.

I dont want to go back to the old days, but I cant help but pray that the young people think about their profession as more than a job.  We are retiring very fast so if the new generation just want to come in and  put in thier hours to collect  a paycheck, then society is doomed.

Barbara B January 30, 2013 12:08 PM
Denver CO

Excuse me, youngins!I graduated from ollege in the 60's (1967!) and have dedicated my work life to the lab ever since and am stillthere and loving it!  I, as an "old, crabby, mean" one, see the younger lab techs as ones not inteested in the whole patient:  Let me explain:  They come in , do the work (sorta) and leave.  We older ones, take time to talk to the patient, console them if we can. I recentlyattended a memorial service of a long time patient and was Blessed by my atendance and I even had family members tell me that "Your presence meant  so much to us and it was surely above and beyond the call of duty"  Wow! We also (us older ones) take more pride in the accuracy of our work and total ethics of the medical Profession.this job  is not about the mpney!(compare our salaries to RN's for example!)      We are here to assist doctors in the diagnosis and care of human beings!  Sorry, "youngins'

Gayle L January 23, 2013 4:06 PM
Olympia WA

It is funny. I think if we would look at the other side we would all benefit.Older workers like my parents take work almost too seriously. When we lived in Pennsylvania my dad would work in New York and come home on the weekend.  

He missed lots of our games and school plays during the week. He would leave the house and drive to  New York early on Monday morning.If he was sick or we had a family emergency he would go crazy. He did not like to miss work at all. He would get mad at everybody. He would go to work even when he was sick. He was so proud of never missing a day at work. His boss loved him for that and that made him proud.

He could  never save any money paying rent in New York. He was very loved by his boss and coworkers, but he hardly knew his own family. He ended up dying poor and estranged from the family. Young people just want to have balance and to take time for themselves.

Employers are very disloyal and dont care about watching out f

or their employees. We have to look out for ourselves. To some older people that seems like we are being selfish but it is not selfish.

Maybe if we both looked at the other side we could see why we act the way we do and  maybe develop some kind of balance between the two.

Miranda Lopez January 22, 2013 6:19 PM
Baltimore MD

I am what you would call Generation Y I guess and I find that the older people in the lab are just plain mean and crabby. They act like we dont care and are there to take their jobs.

That is funny because they act like they hate their jobs.  I think many of them are just grumpy and old fashioned. They might know more people in the hospital or more about a policy but that is only because they have been there so long.

Many of them are so pessimistic. They hate the profession, they hate young people. They just make it a real drag to come to work. What gets me is when you overhear them talking to each other about "the new, young techs" having no commitment or work ethic. That does not encourage cooperation and good will.

We work just as hard as they do even if we are not married to the job liek they are. Thye need to understand we are important too. The thing is in many ways we are more up on technology and know more of current clinical information than they do. We have so much to give if they would only allow us to work as respected part of the team.

Brian T. January 21, 2013 7:25 PM
Naples FL

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