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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

In Celebration of Medical Laboratory Professionals Week

Published April 19, 2014 2:16 PM by Glen McDaniel
 

So, it’s that time of year again. This week we turn our attention to celebrating medical laboratorians.  It is the one week out of the year when we highlight the very important role played by those of us who practice in the laboratory.  Although the information we provide is so vital to healthcare, we are largely invisible. Arguably we provide the majority of the concrete data used in the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of diseases. By the nature of our work and the technology used, we increasingly also help to rule out illnesses and advance wellness.

 

Each year I have written an article, a blog or two, and participated locally in the celebration of “our week.” Although some of my professional career has been spent outside of the laboratory, I always return to my roots and try to join in the celebration whenever I can.

 

Most of you work long hours, tirelessly, outside the attention and consciousness of the patient, day in and day out. With such little public recognition, I am all in favor of a week of celebration. In recent years, however, I have argued against turning inwards as the only means of celebrating. Mutual pats on the shoulder, wearing t-shirts, hosting baby-picture contests and attending lunches thrown by vendors are great. However, I also advocate aggressively promoting the profession so that others-doctors, nurses, other health professionals, administrators and patients-see who we are, how we think and what we do.

 

Teaching others starts with knowing our own history. For example, how about having a contest in your lab to see how many of your colleagues know the following facts:

 

-There are approximately 300,000 medical laboratory professionals in the USA

-Medical laboratory science emerged as a discrete profession around the 1920’s

-In 1975 a week of celebration, originally called National Medical Laboratory Week (NMLW), was initiated by the ASCLS, which back then was named ASMT. Over the years, other laboratory organizations have joined in cosponsoring the week

-In 2005 the organizers of the week changed the name to National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week; adding the “P” to emphasize the role of the professional, the individual. We are more than a room in the basement; after all, we are a profession.

-Each year, a different slogan was chosen to highlight the week. However, in 2010 a permanent theme was chosen: Laboratory Professionals Get Results. This is very catchy and creates a brand that we can all remember, relate to, and use all year long.

-The week is often called “Lab Week” for brevity and because the official name has changed so much. However that casual term probably perpetuates ignorance of the real name and helps to minimize the role of the professional.

-In 2012 the organizers removed the “N” (National) from the name which had been pretty unwieldy, you have to admit. So the current, correct name is Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (MLPW)

 

This week, celebrate, enjoy yourselves. But whenever possible, use the opportunity to introduce yourself and your profession to those who benefit from your dedication and talent, but know little about you and your skills.

 

Enjoy. Have Fun. Thank you for all you do, and Happy Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (MLPW) to you.

 

3 comments

Happy Medical Lab Professionals Week. We have a full week planned for the staff. I think it's a good idea to include the rest of the hospital and to educate them as well. We do have some neat stuff planne dbut it's basically for the staff in the lab.

We have a planning committee and we will talk about that today. Maybe we can put a display in the lobby or cafeteria and hand out some of our fliers in our OPD waiting room. Good idea!!

Angela Hardin April 21, 2014 10:48 AM
Atlanta GA

Happy MLPW to all my professional colleagues over the USA and in Canada

Juan Luis Carasco, MT, RT (ASCLS) April 20, 2014 3:23 PM
San Antonio TX

Happy Lab week, no "happy Medical Laboratory Professionals Week" to you Glen and to my colleagues around the country. I wish you all a very happy week. I am glad this is the one week when all the different professional associations seem to work together.

I just want to encourage my colleagues that if you want to buy giveaways for the week you get it from one of the main associations e.g. ASCLS or ASCP.  There are a few commercial companies that sell "Lab Week" stuff but they are not branded. Many use the term lab technicians and some do not even use the official slogan, some even use a stethoscope or the generic medical symbol. That's how little they know about us. But they want our money.

Buying from our own legitimate organizations means the money goes to support our organization. it also means the products are official and branded. They have the right terminology, right slogan and so on.

Happy MLPW to all!

Geraldine April 19, 2014 5:20 PM
Louisville KY

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