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Stepwise Success

Plan an Open House

Published September 3, 2008 4:49 PM by Scott Warner
A housekeeper once asked me, "What is it you do in the lab?" Her curiosity seemed genuine. I gave her a tour, which got me thinking.

What is the laboratory? To patients, it is a phlebotomist and drawing station. To nurses, it is phlebotomists or technologists in person or on the telephone. To physicians,it is requisitions and reports. And to department heads, it is the laboratory manager. The laboratory that we know--the processing, the multitasking, the judgment--is firmly in the "black box."

And what we do is judged by these incomplete perceptions. While doctors and nurses interact daily as colleagues, an interaction with the laboratory can be baffling (a specimen is rejected) or frustrating (a test isn't completed). Nurses can easily confuse phlebotomists and technologists. And a laboratory manager may be one of the few clinical department heads without obvious patient contact, begging a question for some.

In a previous post, I suggested the laboratory is underestimated, a perception based on ignorance. How do we change it?

An open house can share success. It's an opportunity to show off to your customers a new laboratory, new equipment, or simply a "meet and greet" for the staff. Customers may not realize what testing is done in house or what kind of training is needed to make sure it happens with a remarkably low error rate. (Perhaps, the lowest in your organization. That is bound to be an eye-opener.) They may not know that a laboratory orientation takes weeks and not hours. And they may be surprised that the charge master is the largest in the organization. The complexity of it all will earn respect and surprise more than a few.

An open house can head off those "what is it you do" questions. Why not start planning today?

2 comments

Thanks for the link!  The idea of line staff solving problems together is a winner, I think.

Scott Warner September 9, 2008 4:43 AM

Hi Scott:

When I saw your topic, it reminded me of something I read a couple of months ago on the "Labs Are Vital" page:

http://www.labsarevital.com/main.taf?p=%205,1,6,9

I definitely agree that health professionals with significantly more patient contact than us need to be more aware of how challenging our job can be so that we can receive more positive feedback from them in the future rather than negative attitudes stemming from lack of communication.

Stephanie Mathis, MT(ASCP), Generalist - Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Aureus Medical Group September 8, 2008 12:55 AM
College Station TX

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About this Blog


    Scott Warner, MLT(ASCP)
    Occupation: Laboratory Manager
    Setting: Critical Access Hospital
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