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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

Laboratorians DO Influence How We are Perceived

Published March 20, 2016 7:19 PM by Glen McDaniel

A few months ago the physician group American Osteopathic Association (AOA) which represents osteopathic physicians (they use the credential DO instead of MD) embarked on a branding campaign for their profession.

Some clever marketer decided to use the physician credential and title the campaign “Doctors that DO.” What could possibly be wrong with that? Well, the idea was to use a series of videos and posters emphasizing that osteopathic doctors look at the whole person, they care about the entire patient  - as opposed to a body part. Patients are more than numbers. So far so good.

However in tooting their own horns they managed to insult and minimize others in the medical profession, and most of all medical laboratorians. Slogans like “A chart doesn’t empathize. I DO” and “Machines don’t  listen. I DO” are both clever and effective. However when they went down the path of “Lab Tests don’t listen, we DO” and worse slogans they started hitting dangerously close to home.

I, along with several other laboratorians, contacted AOA to share our concern.

The response was a dismissive: “Sorry you feel that way; that was not our intent.” Further emails and tweets to the organization only caused them to double down and respond in totally tone-deaf and condescending ways by admitting that indeed, “lab technicians are important.” While some felt that nothing ever changes and our voice never means anything, enough people were incensed to keep writing and discussing this issue publicly.

At some point ASCP got wind of the campaign and the significant offense that laboratorians felt. Well AOA finally backtracked after discussions with ASCP. They have agreed to suspend the campaign after March, to review the entire campaign in May, and to work with laboratory organizations like ASCP to advance common goals of patient care.

Who says your voice doesn’t count? Who says no one ever listens? They DO listen. Osteopathic doctors care about patients, but laboratorians DO as well. DOs educate others about what they do, but so can we if we just speak up, instead of accepting the status quo.

3 comments

I did hear about this at work, but thank you for explaining it simply. I see where it was meant to be a multi-year, multimillion dollar campaign. Let's see if these DOs have learned their lesson.%0d%0a%0d%0aIf this is how these people think about themselves, superior to everyone else. Do they not use laboratory tests to diagnose patients? They make it seem like they just hold the patient's hand or gaze into a crystal ball. That's not medicine. That's guessing.%0d%0a%0d%0aI don't know how others feel about that profession. But after this campaign, I wont be going to a DO anytime soon. I'll stick with my smart MDs who actually rely on laboratory tests.

Maria S. March 20, 2016 10:07 PM
New York NY

Wow. That is something. Thank you. Hopefully we get some more exposure. I hope doctors like MDs and staff DOs look into MLS/MTS/MLTs more now and consciously remind themselves of how important we are in patient care. My pet peeve is to call everyone in the lab lab tech, by the way. That's just ignorant.

Maryam , MT March 20, 2016 8:17 PM
Atlanta GA

Yes. I was one of them that wrote to AOA. I was very upset about the campaign. Then I got angrier when their response was so bad. I am glad that our efforts finally paid off. I encourage my colleagues to keep fighting back, speak up. never sit back and say it doesn't matter what WE think.

Jonas T., MLS March 20, 2016 7:45 PM
Dayton OH

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