What Message are You Sending?
business school my marketing professor was fond of saying, “Marketing is
everything.” It was tempting to see this view as the opinion of an overzealous
marketer who was trying to convince students of the need to create complex and
obtuse business/marketing plans. But as I
continued the course, and long after graduation I realized that to a degree he
was right. Marketing is used in several aspects of our lives.
at the news: some politician with whom we disagree or who appears to be
unpopular sweeps the race with a landslide victory. Companies create a brand that we instantly
recognize through a slogan or even a diagram (think of the Golden Arches or the
logo of an apple with a bite taken out of it). Celebrities who do something
obnoxious or spout off in a politically incorrect way often hire high-priced fixers
to rehabilitate their image. That is all marketing. Marketing can be used for
or against your cause and is often based on the strength of the marketing
campaign rather than on any objective measure of accuracy or reality.
does this have to do with medical laboratory science? Well, I think as a
profession we too often pitch and perpetuate a negative marketing campaign
against ourselves. When an “old-timer”
tells an enthusiastic new graduate or intern how horrible this profession is,
that’s marketing. If someone who has been around for years states that, given a
choice, they would have chosen another profession, advises the graduate to
pursue another vocation and keeps up a mantra of how burnt out they are, what
effect do you think that is having both on the youngster and on other’s
perception of our profession?
often outside the lab, administrators and other members of the healthcare team
refer to us in inaccurate ways. They might call us “technicians,” mischaracterize
the work we do, minimize our value or even re-state some negative association.
We do not have to agree with them; but if we let it slide, we are engaging in a
negative marketing campaign against ourselves.
observers think everyone in a white coat is a “lab technician” with equal
expertise and scope of practice, the lab is always losing specimens, every
delay in the ED is due to waiting for lab results, and doctors send specimens
to a black hole where machines automatically regurgitate results-with no input
from a thinking human being. How many times have we heard this line of thinking
and sat silently by while it is repeated ad nauseum?
in healthcare are called by their names: nurses, doctors, physical therapists,
pharmacists. But we are generically “the lab”, a room in the basement. Until
recently our week in April was called “Lab Week” with no mention of the
professionals who actually practice the profession. I never use the misleading term, Lab
Week, for that very reason.
someone talks about a great hospital experience in my presence or on my
Facebook page and thanks all the doctors and nurses, I jokingly say, "Thank
all the medical laboratory scientists providing the information used to
diagnose and treat the patient. And, thanks to the doctors, nurses and others as
well.” I am only partially joking when I reframe the statement; I am practicing
deliberate marketing that makes people think a little.
my smart-alecky comment elicits dead silence, sometimes a chuckle, but very
often it starts a conversation where I can educate-and yes, market, our
profession. We are all marketers, broadcasting a message. Choose your message