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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

Miss America and Nurses and Medical Lab Scientists

Published September 19, 2015 3:29 PM by Glen McDaniel

A few days ago during the Miss America televised pageant one of the contestants, Kelley Johnson representing Colorado, presented a somewhat unique “talent.” Instead of singing or dancing or twirling a baton, Johnson, a registered nurse, came on stage in scrubs, a stethoscope slung around  her neck and proceeded to highlight the value of nursing by reading aloud emails from one of her patients with Alzheimers.


The hosts of the daytime chat-show the View  then poked fun at the selection of this “talent” and even questioned the use of a stethoscope as a prop.


This criticism quickly elicited pushback from nurses, nursing organizations, and other individuals. Such was the negative reaction that The View went overboard to highlight nursing through tributes, guests and mea culpas for several days.


Advertisers also reacted, hitting ABC in the pocket book. Industry giant Johnson and Johnson, an avid supporter of nursing over the years pulled their ads from the shows; as did Eggland’s Best.


Other networks quickly picked up the story and interviewed not just nurses, but others with sympathetic views toward the nursing profession.  Many detailed  first-hand experiences of the dedication and skill they had observed  in their interaction with nurses.


This morning on MSNBC an author, Alexandra Robbins, appeared as a guest to talk about her admiration for nurses gained from following several nurses around for a couple years in preparation for writing her book The Nurses - which she just happened to be promoting.


I do not want to play the “me too” game, or feed the “poor me” we-get-no-respect philosophy that many in our profession subscribe to. However I have to question the odds of  a laboratorian highlighting the profession given such a public stage. Just follow this to its logical  conclusion: if  the MLS profession received public criticism (as happened recently in a newspaper article), how many of us would push back so publicly and vigorously? Which of our vendors  (commercial laboratory giants) would pull their ads and go to bat  for us?


I wondered: would anyone follow a laboratorian around and detail the skill, knowledge and critical thinking demonstrated on a daily basis? Would they find it "sexy" to highlight the diagnoses made or lives saved through information provided by a medical laboratorian? Maybe they could start with the patient, follow the specimen through the laboratory and then loop back to see how MLS influences diagnosis, treatment, monitoring and eventual clinical outcome.


I made that suggestion to Ms Robbins. She did not make a commitment but at least she retweeted my tweet to her. She may be reached through her website at  and her Twitter handle at @AlexndraRobbins 


I bet that  book would be a great read!


You know I saw that story and followed it on the air and social media for several days straight. I though the same thing. First everyone would be saying, "isn't that a lab tech; what's she talking about?"  The hosts of the View would have a good laugh with the audience, go to commercial and that would be the end of that. There'd be zero pushback, not even a call to ABC or an email to the View. I wonder if Ms Robbins even thought about where all those specimens went to when they left the floor? I wonder if she even tried to figure out how much treatment changed or diagnoses were made solely on the results that "came back." Did the nurses or anyone say where those results "cam back from?"

David C., MLS (ASCP) September 27, 2015 8:52 PM
Los Angeles CA

I loved the pushback. I am envious that we as a profession do not have the pride or guts to speak out. How many of us have families that call us "lab tech" and think we know about their medicines? How many of our close friends think its the doctor who tests their blood that the "nurse" draws their blood. To them everyone is either a doctor or a nurse.

If we cant get enough gumption to educate friends and family then the public will not know about us. We fight any push for licensure and then complain when the lab hires "any person off the street" or an OJT person from down the street.

We need pride, we need energy. We need to make the effort to educate (people are not mind readers). Then we need to push for protection of our scope i.e licensure.

Jeanine M., Core Lab - Weekend Supervisor September 25, 2015 1:44 PM
Chicago IL

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