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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

Do We Practice What We Preach? Part 1.

Published January 31, 2016 4:11 PM by Glen McDaniel

Well today is my birthday and it's making me a little retrospective. As you all know I am not about making big resolutions based on the day or date; such as New Year's. However I did think back over my professional life today: what I have done, what impact I have made on the profession and what I would do differently, given a second chance. Then an unrelated conversation with a friend who is a pastor and counselor got me thinking more deeply about us in the medical laboratory science profession as a group.

We often say so many things, we are often so critical of others and we regularly bemoan how badly we are treated. That got me thinking about how much we do (or do not) always practice what we preach. Do we do what we demand of others? Do we exude a degree of professionalism commands respect?

Just look around and you will find many examples where actions speak louder than words.” For example, we constantly say how valuable and important we are as a profession. Then why is it that some of us are too complacent or busy to serve on hospital committees or performance improvement teams? How do we add value to providers and patients if all we do is follow orders and provide numbers?

 

We tend to be passive recipients of actions taken by others. Instead we should be bulldozing our way into every meeting where pivotal decisions are made that might impact the future of the lab or the delivery of laboratory services to the patient. Too many of us forfeit our hand in the game and unhappily settle for unwanted results.

The term “professional” is bandied about so much that its meaning has become unclear to most of us. Often we say we are not being treated as professionals, meaning we are not given the recognition usually afforded well-educated individuals with a unique, complex body of knowledge. Then why do we not belong to our professional organizations in larger numbers, or why do some willingly choose to be less than full members of any professional organization?

Why is our scope of practice (and the public) not protected by licensure in more states?  If our claim of professionalism is to be more than empty platitudes we need to act more consistently professional in dress and actions, conducting ourselves with dignity, confidence and resolve.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. While there are many reasons for the state of affairs, I am more interested in solutions, rather than explanations for why things are bad and about to get worse.

I await your responses and will continue this conversation in my next blog with Part 2 of the discussion. 

6 comments

I disagree with John 1000%. It is attitudes like that which hurt us as a profession. That internal attitude does more harm than anyone outside the profession can ever do.

On the other hand I agree with Claudia completely!!! Like her I am from a  state that requires personnel licensure. Despite all the fears, licensure does not create a shortage of staff, at least no bigger shortage than any other state without licensure. On the other hand it protects our scope, it prevents high school grads trained on the job from working as technologists. Yes, it also keeps our salaries above the national average. Plus our patients get higher quality care.

To what Claudia said about how we are treated. I don't think that others' perception of us will change overnight. I also don't think licensure alone will turn the tide. But I believe licensure is a BIG start. If we all supported it, we'd be walking along the road to progress instead of sitting in the lab whining.

You also said something Glen (not just here but in your other writings) where you encourage us to act like professionals with a solid body of knowledge. The more we do that, the more doctors and nurses will see us in that light. If we act unprofessionally, if we always say, "I don't know" or "ask the pathologists"  doctors and nurses will accept us AT OUR WORD that we are not very smart.

Interesting subject. Thanks very much for writing it.

Mystique February 9, 2016 4:39 PM
Ft. Lauderdale FL

I agree with what you say to an extend. I believe that we should have licenses. I live in a state where it is required for you to have a license and where new-blood, like myself, need to have ASCP accreditation as MLS in order to obtain said license. This creates the atmosphere that we are indeed PROFESSIONALS, but there are also other factors that may affect the way in which we are seen or not. My experience so far is that, coming across many of our fellow healthcare workers, usually having contact with them over the phone, We are seldom respected by them. Again, this is my experience. They wouldn' yell at you in person, but they definately treat you like you have no knowledge of anything going on in your laboratory, through phone contact. The public doesn't even know we are there. So I believe these things also make it difficult for us to have more control of what happens to the laboratory. My experience in several places so far is that, we are just told of our future by the pathologist and then that's pretty much the end of the conversation.

Perhaps we should have a DCLS lead the laboratories?

Claudia Funez, mycobacteriology - MLS, NYC February 5, 2016 5:03 PM
NY NY

I disagree with John 100%. It is not just about paying money. No one wants bills. I would love to have light and water and subway rides for free but it doesn't work that way. I don't drive now, but when I did  I used to pay for my driver's license and car registration.  It's a privilege and those who don't pay cant own or drive a car.  I pay to have CPR, I pay for Dept of Health license in the city. We pay for things that have value. Don't we value ourselves and our profession? I would go so far as to say we are not respected EXACTLY because we treat this like just a job. If we act like waitresses and manual laborers no wonder we are treated that way.

Maria , MLS(ASCP) February 3, 2016 3:59 PM
New York NY

I have enough bills. I sure don't want to have to fork over more money for nothing.

John W. February 1, 2016 8:43 PM
Baltimore MD

I have been practising in California for several years and can tell you that licensure has kept our pay up and has also limited access to the profession. By limited I mean it has not kept out a legitimate CLS or CLT but employers who might feel tempted to use cheap labor cannot do that in California like they can in some states.

I certainly don't mind paying a few dollars to make sure our profession is protected like any other profession. I might want to become a pharmacist because of the money. But I could not even dream of anyone hiring me and teaching me on the job just to reduce their cost of labor.

The reason other professions are doing better is NOT because they are smarter it is because they have legal protection. We cant fight legal protection like many CLS/CLT/MT/MLTs  do, and still expect to be paid well and to be respected. It is simple logic.

Tomas A, Clinical lab scientist January 31, 2016 6:24 PM
Los Angeles CA

Hello

I agree with what you have said. I want to thank you for all you have done for the profession over the years, You have been a constant advocate and a never changing voice for change, progress and advancement of the profession. The problem I think is apathy. Not too many people including official leaders seem motivated to go to bat and plugging away long term. This is not popular but is my own feeling.

Minerva V January 31, 2016 6:18 PM
Washington DC

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