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Keeping Benchwork Exciting

Published April 8, 2013 6:02 AM by Scott Warner

The other day after I explained a change in microbiology an employee told me, “That’s three times you’ve used the word ‘exciting.’ That’s not a word I would use.” This was said in good humor, but the point is valid. Slogging out results day in and day out, thousands a year, can be tedious. How do we keep benchwork exciting?

While the question is closely related to motivation, camaraderie, culture, and other workplace conditions, it’s much simpler. It boils down to what keeps the hands on work of producing lab results exciting. A love of medical technology seems like a prerequisite to me.

Other than loving technology, it’s difficult to speculate why someone would find labwork exciting after years of doing it. And in fact many don’t. Techs get burnt out,exhausted, fed up, and ultimately disillusioned enough to quit the profession. But I’ve stuck with it for many years and like my colleagues still find a lot to be excited about.

Here are a few ideas to keep benchwork exciting:

  • Read. Textbooks, trade magazines, websites, and resources like UpToDate are good sources of continuing education. The more you know about the technology and how it’s applied, the better.
  • Get involved. Other professions are a good source of interest. It’s helpful, for example, to audit nursing when they administer blood to learn the care side of transfusion medicine. This kind of information can help improve your processes and improve patient care.
  • Look beyond. I’ll admit, it can be tedious to churn out CBCs all day, but you can always look beyond a single result. Values and smear reviews can be correlated with information from other departments or a diagnosis. You can always dig a little deeper to find out more.

But that’s just me. I lean towards a curiosity and desire to improve things. I can easily imagine other factors: helping colleagues, personal productivity, multitasking. I know a tech who whistles while she multitasks, happiest when she has three or four tests cooking at once. Is that exciting? Perhaps.

How about you? What keeps your benchwork exciting?

NEXT: Why Fasting?

2 comments

Theresa,

Thanks for your comments!  You've hit upon it, I think.  Passion has to be fueled by genuinely enjoying and liking the work!

Scott Warner May 6, 2013 6:02 AM

Thank you Scott for your ideas about keeping the bench exciting.

I work in a community hospital setting with five other full-time Micro "geeks".  Many of us are lifers in micro.  We love it.  Everyday is the same yet some how different.  It is hard to explain to someone who does not share our Micro passion.  This is most evident when trying to train someone new.  They have to like it first.

Reading the latest articles and updates are a great way to stay fresh.  Webinars can be helpful when time allows, along with professional convention settings.  And lets not forget the students.  What an excellent way to share by teaching the next wave of laboratory professionals.

Theresa Linstrom, Microbiology - MT, Emerson Hosp. April 30, 2013 9:06 AM
Concord MA

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About this Blog


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