As the years go on, I have noticed a steady decline in the ability of candidate students to conduct a successful interview. The ability to confidently sell yourself and provide a potential employer or professor a well-rounded view of your personality and professional qualities can really take you far in life. However, it seems this talent is an ever-declining one.
In recent years I have seen students do everything from freeze up with anxiety to act so casual I question their commitment or enthusiasm for the field at all. Common interview questions such as, "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" and "Why should a potential employer hire you?" or "What makes you a good fit for this position?" have left candidates speechless. Having the answers to these common questions stowed away for easy retrieval is almost essential for landing a position in today's professional education program or job market.
I have always reviewed Interview Skills with my MLS students. I feel very strongly of late that this may be a necessity for all professional education programs. In professional programs like MLS programs, instructors are preparing students to enter the workforce ready to contribute to the profession. However, if our students are unable to nail the interview, they may never get the chance, or find difficulty landing a job.
What are some initial pointers I have for interview preparation?
1. Research common interview questions. Take the time to carefully form your responses to these questions and memorize them. These will be your strong answers that you will not have to think about on the spot. There may be questions thrown at you that genuinely stump you. Save your brain power for those.
2. Research the position/company/school. Never interview for a position that you do not have a comfortable understanding as to what will be expected of you should you get it. Make sure your interviewer sees that you know what you are getting into and that you have thought about ways you can contribute to the position to make it your own.
3. Make an audio-recording of yourself saying answers to interview questions. This may sound silly, but you may not realize you have a habit of saying "um" every other word, or maybe you say "like" too much. You will always learn something by taking the time to listen to yourself talk.
4. Remain calm throughout your interview. Answer questions in complete sentences, making sure to cover the points of the question. Give enough detail to be personal and showcase your experience, but be careful to not digress or indulge too much personal information.
5. Remember, you are also interviewing the company/school to make sure this is a good fit for you. Be prepared to ask questions to learn everything you can about the position before making your decision.
I'd love to hear thoughts from other professionals out there who may have witnessed bad interview skills or good ones. What are some pointers you can give to new MLS graduates who will be starting their interviews in the Spring?
Those of us in the laboratory profession know our scene all too well. Closed off from much of the world, listening to the hum of our instruments and running analysis after analysis, and loving every minute of it! I feel comfortable in this environment and even thrive in it, as many other that share my profession. However, are we getting the most out of our profession and our role in the healthcare team being closed off from so many other healthcare workers?
This is a concern I have as a Medical Laboratory Scientist, as well as an Educator to future Medical Laboratory Scientists. I want my students to know how they fit into the healthcare team. I not only want them to see how important their own role is to patient care, but what other healthcare professionals are doing to care for the patient. Often times many professionals outside the laboratory are awaiting the results of laboratory analyses to provide their specific care to the patient. I also want my students to see how what they do as a professional can have an impact on the decisions another professionals make for a patient.
I recently gave a Hematology lecture to a paramedic class. It was amazing to see another perspective of healthcare. I learned as much from these students and preparing the lecture for them as they learned from me. They let me take them on a journey inside the blood and I learned about patient assessment. Often times in the laboratory we graze over patient symptoms, when in other healthcare professions this is the most important tool to deciding how to treat a patient and deciding which lab tests to order.
As an educator I found this experience enlightening. I want to expose my students to other healthcare professionals. I want them to see how important the healthcare "team" is to patient care. I know that in practice they will not get much exposure to other professionals outside the laboratory, so I feel very strongly about giving them these experiences now. It also leads me to wonder if the laboratory profession should be more exposed. We have so much to offer. I feel there is confusion about what happens in the laboratory, from what test to order, how the test is run, how the specimen is collected, etc. If we move to a more consulting role and claim a more active role in the healthcare team, I feel there could be benefits for everyone.
As the semester (and the year) comes to an end, it is an ideal time to go through old documents and files. While sifting through piles of filed papers, I came across a few articles about the history of science and I thought I would share a few with you.
I reviewed a book published in 1985 by Steve Shapin entitled Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life. The book focused on the controversies that arose because of the publication of the work done by Robert Boyle entitled New Experiments Physico-Mechanical Touching the Spring of Air (1660).
The author believed that the controversy was more about social order than about science. He was not concerned about how Boyle discovered his law but rather he wanted his book to be an exercise in what he called the "sociology of scientific knowledge." The main protagonists in the book were Boyle and Hobbes.
Boyle's "elaborate experiments" in which artificial phenomena were produced by apparatus, in this case the air-pump, caused problems for him with physical integrity, standardization and replication. Shapin pointed out how these matters caused disputes with Boyle's fellow scientists but also showed how the confrontation with Hobbes was more profound. Hobbes not only rejected the existence of the vacuum in nature but he argued that only reason or philosophy could yield reliable knowledge not Boyle's "engine philosophy."
The author addressed the complex relationship between theory, experiment, and the intellectual and political community.
In another book published by the same author, A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in Seventeenth-Century England (1994), Shapin was concerned with questions about the grounds of scientific knowledge that traditionally had been the preserve of philosophers. Shapin wanted to explore the bases upon which scientific knowledge was held.
The author believed that the way we secure factual knowledge would rest upon the reliability of testimony. He argued for the importance of trust in establishing knowledge, especially empirical knowledge, in the natural world. He gave historical accounts involving the importance of gentlemanly codes during the seventeenth-century in resolving disputes about such things as water pressure and comets among natural philosophers.
Shapin described the scholarly communities of the seventeenth-century and showed how the person actually doing the experiment was paid to do so. The worker was only to perform the experiment not to explain the outcome. The explanation was the job of the natural philosopher. As the author stated so well: "The merely experienced agent was rightly subservient to the reasoning agent." Another way of putting it was from Boyle himself: "Experience is but an assistant to reason."
Lastly, an article by John Hardwig published in the Journal of Philosophy in 1991 addressed the role of trust in knowledge. Hardwig believed that much of our knowledge rests on trust. He stressed the importance of teamwork in acquiring scientific knowledge and also pointed out the fact that no one person alone can grasp all of the information available on any topic in science.
Hardwig discussed the specialization that was so prevalent in modern scientific research. The author also addressed the issue of research fraud and pointed out that it was harder to control than was once believed. The more difficult and costly the experiment the less likely it would be that replication for the sake of repeatability would occur.
In the last few weeks and months, most of us followed the news of three trials or events that captured the attention of national media. Casey Anthony was tried for a first degree murder of her daughter, Caylee, but was acquitted. The trial lasted 6 weeks. At the end, the jury found Casey not guilty of murder or aggravated child abuse. The verdict was greeted with public outrage, and Time magazine described the case as "the social media trial of the century."
The second case was for Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson’s physician. He was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of the famous King of Pop. In this case, the public was pleased with the guilty verdict.
And recently, we all heard about the legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno. The coach was fired after a scandal that shocked the entire country. In all three cases, we were all saddened for the loss of the lives of Caylee and Michael and for the victims involved in the Penn State case.
I also wondered if Casey, Conrad, and Joe have received a fair treatment whether in the public eye or in a court of law.
In education, assessment and evaluation are among the core elements of the teaching and learning cycle. It is a tremendous challenge to provide a fair assessment to as many students as possible in all different situations. A fair assessment is one in which students are given equitable opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. However, that does not mean all students should be treated exactly the same.
An educator must develop and adopt fair assessment and evaluation methods and procedures appropriate to his/her own teaching style. These may vary from one student to the next and from class to class depending on several factors such as dynamic of the class, cultural experience, and cognitive and/or psychomotor skills.
An educator must strive to take every effort to ensure that his/her assessment methods are fair and practical. To start, one must have clearly stated learning goals. They provide a road map for the teacher and the students. So, you need to share them with the students on the first day. You also need to frequently check on the progress being made to achieve these goals.
We teach in an extremely practical world where psychomotor skills are essential to functioning in the laboratory. Therefore, our assessments must reflect this fact. Standardized tests are a great tool to measure students’ cognitive abilities and to prepare them for the certification exam, however, they must not be the primary measure in determining the competency of a student. One form of assessment, for example multiple choice exams, is not enough to dictate a decision; we should use our professional judgment and take into consideration information from a broad variety of assessments whether a student has reached an acceptable competency level.
Interpret assessment results appropriately. A common approach is to compare students against their peers. Care must be applied when taking this approach because the assessment must relate to the goals and objectives of the class or the task on hand. In educational programs like ours, we need to observe progress and growth in students. Students are expected to mature from recalling simple information to application, comprehension, problem solving and critical thinking.
Last but not least, one must continuously evaluate and validate the outcomes of his/her own assessments. If students fail to demonstrate competency on a particular topic/area, you need to inquire and investigate the real reasons. It can be the wording of the question or simply the fact you didn't teach a concept well. Honest evaluation of own assessments allows you to revise your assessment tools, your pedagogy, or both. It is a guaranteed recipe for your assessments to be fairer the next time you use them.
A final word, regardless of years of experience in this field, is to attend as many professional development opportunities as possible. You can always learn a new thing and if not (and I doubt it), you can teach a new trick to future faculty.
Anyone who has children knows the great parallel between teaching strategies
and child rearing. Often times, the same techniques we use to raise our
children are directly applicable in the classroom. One such technique is the
discipline of standing back and giving your child a chance to show you they can
handle situations. I can't complain that my child is not walking if I never
give her the opportunity to try on her own. I can't complain that my teenager
doesn't make mature choices if I control all her decisions.
We do the same in education. We can't complain that our students aren't taking
control of the material and thinking critically if we never give them the
opportunity to do it themselves. Common practice today is to write a lesson
plan involving a PowerPoint filled with information which we turn around and
hand to the student to bring to class. It hit me this week that all I am doing
when I follow this trend is taking control of the learning.
I tell them what to
study, I hand them the information I think is important and in return they are
not going beyond my boundaries. Why would they? I have basically told them
exactly what to do to succeed in my class.
I think there are little changes I can make to my teaching technique that could
change things. First, before my lecture, I am making my students responsible
for the material in the text. Gone are the days of me covering the text cover
to cover in presentations. They are expected to know the information from the
reading and online resources from which I provide them enough to show up to
class ready to answer questions.
This leads us to the second technique of
teaching through questioning. My students will show up to lecture equipped only
with pencil and paper for note taking. I will give my presentation that they
will not have access to until after my lecture. I will question them and
attempt to expand their knowledge and guide them to reaching that
higher level of thinking. Then after class, they will have access to my
presentation for studying.
I need to start giving my students a chance to show me that they can do more.
It is very easy to give students step by step instructions, but I think it only
prevents them from thinking outside those boundaries. They get road blocked by
rules and guidelines and they do not see past it. It is possible too
that they do not want to put in more effort than what has been described
because they know exactly what they have to do for full credit.
told me to pass a test I would have to carry 10 pounds across the room, I
would make sure I could carry 10 pounds across the room. If they said instead
that I would be expected to carry weight across the room of unknown amounts,
but my grade is based on the top amount I could carry, I would probably
try and carry 50 pounds!
I love college sports! I believe academic athletic departments bring huge benefits (and funds) to the universities and to the communities they serve. However, when I read a recent editorial in USA Today about the rise of the salaries of the athletic directors on campuses nationwide, I must admit, I was upset. When I read that the average salary is $450,000 I became angrier. And when I learned that a good number of schools gave their athletic directors raises of about $75,000 just last year, I was furious!
Please do not misunderstand me. I am a logical person and I understand we do not have to be at the same pay scale, or do we?
First, let us define the word “salary.” A salary reflects the type of employment obtained and success in meeting the goals associated with the position held. As such, a salary is a form of recognition for professional contributions and a measure of worth in the scientific or professional community.
We all agree that academic faculty salaries are not competitive. Actually, in a recent survey, teachers make 14 percent less than professionals in other occupations that require similar levels of education.
Adjusting faculty salaries is a priority to most, if not all, colleges and universities. Administrators at academic institutions agree that the legislative and governing bodies must be made aware that addressing the issue of competitive faculty salaries is of the utmost importance to the long-term economic health of our country.
The existing disparity between faculty salaries and other professionals impact the quality of teaching and research in academic world. The disparity in salaries is having a significant and negative impact on recruitment and retention of faculty. Moreover, we are unable to recruit top choices for new faculty because we simply cannot compete.
The public often talk about accountability, measurements, tenure, test scores and pay for performance. These questions are worthy of debate, but are secondary to recruiting and training teachers and treating them fairly.
In a study that compared the treatment of teachers in the United States and in the three countries that perform best on standardized tests: Finland, Singapore and South Korea, the findings (PDF link) were remarkable. These countries have an entirely different approach to the profession. First, these governments recruited top graduates to the profession. (We don’t.)
In Finland and Singapore they pay for training. (We don’t.) In terms of purchasing power, South Korea pays teachers on average 250 percent of what we do. Most importantly, they trust their teachers. They are rightly seen as the solution, not the problem, and when improvement is needed, the school receives support and development, not punishment.
Don’t you think we would attract and retain the best of the best if salaries started at $65,000 and rose to a minimum of $150,000? If we’re committed to “winning the future,” we should.
Colleges and universities must make a firm commitment to invest in intellectual capital as represented in its faculty with the same vigor that they are investing in physical capital and other resources.
I admit that every once in a while, I find myself dealing with a student that is struggling to learn the basic and essential principles of the material we are teaching while the rest of the class has moved on and ready for new material. By no means, are these weak students. They have met the rigorous admission criteria and their academic records prior to entering the program proved that they possessed the necessary intellectual abilities (and the grades) to succeed in the program.
So, I decided to dig deeper into this issue and talked to colleagues in different disciplines. I became more convinced that we, the teachers, need to better understand our own neurological strengths and weaknesses in order to reach all of our students.
Students come to us from diverse learning styles that require different teaching approaches. So how can we adapt our teaching to reach and engage as many of them as possible?
Interestingly, the answer lies in first knowing ourselves as teachers. To do this, one must understand own "neurological style" and the way it could influence the way we teach. We all have a left-, a right-, or a middle-brain preference, that influences our teaching patterns.
The neurological profile guides the way we teach our classes; left-brain teachers tend to teach in a "left-brain style," right-brain teachers teach in a "right-brain style," and middle-brain teachers tend to vary between the two approaches.
Teachers are more inclined to reach students who share the same neurological strengths. A left-brain teacher needs to make a conscious effort in order to better reach a right-brain student in the classroom.
Left-brain teachers prefer to teach using lecture and discussion. They follow outlines, and they like to adhere to prepared time schedules. They challenge their students to work on problems and assignments independently and they like to assign more research and writing than their right-brain peers. They maintain a reasonably quiet, structured classroom.
Left-brain students prefer to work alone. They like to read independently and incorporate research into their papers. They favor a quiet classroom without a lot of distraction.
Right-brain teachers prefer to use hands-on activities over a lecture format. They incorporate more visual aids into their lessons. Right-brain teachers assign more group projects and activities, and prefer a busy, active, noisy classroom environment.
Unlike left-brain students, right-brain students rather work in groups. They absolutely do not like to write another tedious term paper.
Students with left- or right-brain tendencies prefer to be taught to their neurological strengths. Although they can learn by different methods, they get most excited and involved when they can learn and do assignments in their area of strength.
To be more successful in your classroom, step outside your comfort zone and try to incorporate new neurological teaching methods. If you are a left-brain teacher, add at least one right-brain methodology (such as role playing or group projects) into your lessons. If you are a right-brain teacher, consider lecturing more often, or assigning more individual and/or research-oriented projects. If you are a middle-brain teacher, select and incorporate something new from either area.
Better yet, give your students a variety of assignments to choose from. You may be pleasantly surprised to see students gravitating toward their own neurological strengths when given a choice of assignments.
The good news is that we, even the seasoned ones, can strengthen the weaker parts of our brains because they are always searching for new meanings and connections.
So, yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks!
Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, died after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 56.
The innovative pioneer transformed the use of personal computer technology in
all aspects of our lives, including our classrooms. Steve, the heart and soul
of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, is listed on 313 Apple patents.
President Barack Obama released a statement that
described the magnitude of this loss by saying, "The world has lost a man with
a vision. Perhaps the greatest compliment to Steve's success is the fact
that many around the world learned the news of his death on a device that he
Jobs was the brain behind many devices that changed
the concept and the way we teach in our classrooms. He left his mark on a
history that spanned more than 35 years of personal computers. Since the 1970s,
Apple computers strategically placed the company and its products into the
world of education through the introduction of the early version of Macintosh
computers (Apple I and II) and the subsequent lines of desktop computers,
laptops, and mobile devices that impacted the world of education for students
and adults alike.
Although Jobs was not a known donor to
educational enterprises, under his leadership, his company offered educational
services and discounts to schools and educators.
In the 1980s, Macintosh computers
entered school campuses and were well-received due to their relative ease of
use. The graphic interfaces were a huge hit.
The introduction of iPad in academic
settings was overwhelming. Since its release in 2009, the new device surpassed
Apple's entire educational computer sales combined. Classroom teachers liked
the iPad because of its portability, long battery life, and intuitiveness of
use, especially for young students and students with disabilities. iPhones, on
the other hand, are becoming acceptable educational tools worldwide. iTunes U
is yet another product that is all familiar to campuses nationwide.
Thank you, Steve, for changing our world forever!
We are known to be hard working people, dedicated to our
jobs, and committed to excellence in everything we do. When things need to be
done, they get done. We may not be quick on volunteering on doing this and
that, but once asked, we cannot say no. The word no does not exist in our vocabulary. But is that good for us at a
personal level and to the profession in general?
If you do not feel like participating in an event or joining
a committee, say no and mean it. Say
it immediately with a firm tone and do not apologize, unless you have a very
good reason. Do not allow others to take advantage of you.
Assertiveness is a behavior that should be encouraged and exercised
by more of us. It is simply standing up for one's personal rights and
expressing one's own beliefs. Loud people can be assertive as well as soft
spoken ones. The key is not to get angry or emotional.
Do you have what it takes to be an assertive person?
Assertiveness requires knowledge, experience, self-esteem, and power to
translate words into action. The body language should complement assertive
words and action by proper use of eye contact, firm handshakes and facial
expressions that indicate interest.
I, personally, do not like it when I hear one of my
professional colleagues say "I am not a doctor, but ... " in an answer to an
issue related to laboratory science. This discounting or disqualifying language
is not necessary and we need to be more assertive in expressing our own opinion
based on our scientific knowledge.
We can achieve assertiveness without being aggressive or
passive. The goal of a discussion is not to dominate or to win an argument.
Aggressive people use improper techniques such as pointing fingers,
interrupting, talking loudly and making sarcastic remarks. Do not be one these
people. Don't be passive either by allowing others to violate your rights.
Do not apologize because it is too hot or because the train
is late. Passive people lack the respect of others; superiors, subordinates and
students. Do not express your thoughts with a whiny or weak tone, and do not
start your sentence with "This may sound stupid, but ... ."
The risk of dealing with passive individuals is that they
may become passive-aggressive without realizing it. This is the worst kind of
behavior because it can produce an unhealthy environment where the
passive-aggressive person feels powerless and tends to defy rules in a hidden
So, where do you see yourself? If you feel you lack
assertiveness, you can practice and train yourself to become more assertive in
your daily life.
Last blog, we
talked about receiving criticism and offered a few practical suggestions on how
to take it. In this blog, I want to discuss how to give a negative feedback. In
your role as a supervisor or a teacher, it becomes your responsibility to be a
coach, a counselor, and a disciplinarian. It is critical that feedback is given
in a careful and a balanced way. When people, let alone difficult ones, are
under fire, they tend to get defensive and counter attack.
Therefore, you need
to be prepared. Keep in mind, the goal of dishing out a negative feedback is to
alter a certain behavior and not to take this opportunity to launch a personal
attack against the person.
- Get to the
point - No need to soften the criticism by mixing it with irrelevant praises.
You will either confuse the recipient or you will make them feel manipulated.
It is OK, however, to link positive and negative comments when the connection
- Be Johnny on
the spot - If you see an action that requires a feedback, do not wait. It is
better to provide the feedback as soon as possible once you have collected all
the necessary information to make an informed decision.
- Do not
criticize if you or the recipient are emotionally unstable. Never attempt to do
so when you are angry.
- Be respectful
- Remember you are an adult talking to an adult. Keep the conversation within
boundaries of mutual respect.
- Avoid terms
such as "always" and "never". They do more harm than you can anticipate.
- Give detailed
examples, if possible.
- Allow the
recipient time to ponder and give him/her an opportunity to respond. It is
important to listen carefully to what they say.
- The power of
"but" - Use "but" instead of "and". Generally
speaking, "but" excludes and discounts the previous clause. For
example, "she is a very productive employee but she can
be a bit demanding" is different than "she is a very productive
employee and she can
be a bit demanding."
- Support your
comments with appropriate body language.
- Close by
explaining why the change in behavior in question is needed.
It is never
fun to be on either side of the criticism equation, but unfortunately, it is
not only necessary, it is required.
Adapted from Coping with
Difficult People by Dr. William Umiker
Admit it; no one likes
to be criticized. In a typical work day, I receive many comments from
supervisors, co-workers, and students that are uplifting and encouraging.
Occasionally, I receive
a negative comment criticizing something I have done or an action I have taken.
How do you handle criticism? Most of us react on an impulse
and start defending ourselves or even lash back.
By definition, criticism is the judgment
of the merits and faults of the work or actions of an individual or group by
another. To criticize does not necessarily imply to find fault, but the word is
often taken to mean the simple expression of an objection or disapproval.
The goal in receiving criticism is to benefit from it,
thus we call it "constructive criticism." This requires a switch from an
emotional response to a cognitive one. Do not take criticism personally, but
concentrate on the behavior being criticized.
Here are a few tips on how to handle criticism:
Listen carefully with a sense of maturity and
accept the criticism. Do not counterattack or become defensive and start
creating excuses or blaming others.
Do not retaliate or downplay the criticism.
Take notes. It serves two purposes; it shows
interest and it stops you from making an unnecessary emotional response.
Ask for examples of critiqued attitudes
and/or behaviors and probe for more specific information.
To make sure you understand the criticism,
paraphrase what was said.
Reflect on the criticism given to you. If you
agree with it, acknowledge and agree and make plans to rectify. If you do not
agree, take a cautious approach and refute it in a factual, objective, and
unemotional way. It is ok to ask for some time to ponder the criticism.
If you ask for one, be ready to hear it.
If the criticism bothers you (most of the
time it will) admit that it bothers you.
Sincerely thank the critic for the comments
and avoid being sarcastic.
Seek opinions of others to verify or disprove
the criticism. Many times, we cannot see or evaluate our own actions or
It is critical that you act on criticism. If you do not, anger, frustration, and
misunderstanding will build up and the situation may escalate to an
Now, I have shared with you a few tips on how to receive
criticism. My next blog is about dishing one out.
Adapted from Coping with Difficult People by Dr.
My last blog was addressed to students entering our
profession. This one is dedicated to new teachers joining the academic field.
As a student, I experienced a typical mixture of teachers and different
teaching styles. When I became one, I learned many instructional techniques to
adopt in my classroom, and other teaching styles to avoid.
The first year in academe is critical. Experiences gained during
this period of time can start a promising teaching career with continued growth
and development. On the other hand, unpleasant experiences can lead to road
blocks and the possible early exit of an academic career.
Most new teachers enter their classrooms with fear and anxiety.
No one wants to look like a fool, so new faculty better be prepared to face their
students. It is OK if you cannot answer all the questions, but never neglect or
ignore these questions. Research them and provide the answers at the next class
There is a monumental difference between like and respect.
You have to establish this relationship between you and your students early on
and you want to keep it balanced. You are starting a new, long lasting relationship
with your students, one that is more than a simple friendship.
Go to class with a relaxed attitude. Remember, you are an
expert in the subject you are teaching and students are expecting to learn from
you and your experiences. Once you accomplish this atmosphere, you will
gradually build up your confidence level and your meetings with the students
will get more exciting.
PowerPoint is a great teaching tool, but you need to use it
wisely. Busy slides are mode killers and can put the brightest students to
sleep fairly quickly. Never read your lecture notes and always maintain eye
contact with students. Engage the students in questions and exercises. Have
them express their opinions and feelings. However, you are in control when
things get out of hand.
The first few days and meetings are all important, not
because you have miraculously just learned a new development in your subject
matter, important as that may be, but because you're establishing the ground
rules for your classroom. In this period of time, students are interested to
see your ability to manage the class effectively. So, keep it simple! Soon you
will find that teaching can be fun and you will enjoy devoting time and energy
to it. Once some comfort is achieved, you can start thinking about the larger
Go ahead and enjoy your first days. You will always look
back and reflect on these days.
August is here and most schools are opening their
doors for new and returning students. For those entering our beloved
profession, I am pleased to welcome you to an exciting and dynamic
profession. It is critically important
for you to realize that health care providers and employers require graduates
who are not only technically competent but also excellent communicators,
critical thinkers, and problem solvers.
Upon successful completion of this program, you will
have gained the minimum knowledge, skills, and abilities to function as a
competent medical laboratory scientist or technician at job entry level. We, the faculty, want you to be proud of your
accomplishments, abilities, and potential and we want to be able to say that we
are pleased to have you as a colleague.
Our reward is your success.
So, to my dear students
anywhere, start the academic year off right
with these tips to help you get the most out of your educational experience:
If your school offers an orientation
session or activity, take the time to attend it. Such session can offer
valuable information that can help you accommodate faster to college life.
Start building your network from day
one. Any person you meet today can be a lead or a resource in the future.
Do not skip classes and be prepared.
Class attendance correlates with your grade. Show your interest by showing up
Ask relevant questions and take a lot of
clear and concise notes.
Find your best place in class and always
pay attention. The front of the classroom offers less distraction.
Be a good listener and remain focused.
Instructors regularly give clues to important points.
Visit with your professors during office
hours or whenever they can meet you. Not only you will learn from them
additional information, you will build a stronger relationship. However,
maintain a professional relationship and recognize your limits.
Textbooks are your new friend. Buy them,
use them, and keep them.
Study, but study smart. Immediately
after a lecture, go over your lecture notes and read the corresponding material
in your textbook. Do not study over 2 hours at a time. Your brain may not be
able to handle it.
Study the big picture, then learn the
details. Cramming does not work. Trust me, a lot of people tried it!
Be organized and prioritize. List what
you need to study and do and stick to it.
To remember things better, you need to
be interested in the topic, picture it in your mind, relate it to current
information your already know, and repeat it over and over.
Do not take rules and regulations
advices from other students. Go to the source.
Read your email regularly and
familiarize your self with you college catalog.
Maintain a positive attitude.
Do not allow your degree to be just a
piece of paper. Degrees do not guarantee a brighter future. You have to prove
yourself with your knowledge, abilities, and attitudes.
your college days. I know I did!
I attended the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) annual meeting in Atlanta. The meeting was a great opportunity to meet members of the laboratory community.
The keynote speakers demonstrated, in a debate format, the challenges faced by practicing clinicians on appropriate test selection and correct interpretation of test results. The interactive format featured a laboratory director (Dr. Laposata) and an internist (Dr. Meisel), discussing their sometimes competing challenges in optimizing the accuracy and speed of a diagnosis involving laboratory tests.
Both speakers engaged the audience on the discussion of the value of laboratory testing. Many attendees responded that the answer was in the implementation of the Doctorate in Clinical Laboratory Science (DCLS) degree. The purpose and benefits of the DCLS has been debated for the last several years but the idea is still in its infancy. No one knows for sure how much longer we have to wait to see the fruits of such a degree. The profession, in large, is still debating whether DCLS can provide a career ladder and professional recognition or it is simply a solution looking for a problem.
Maximizing the effective delivery of all the components of health care in today’s complex system will help address the rapidly escalating costs, issues of access to quality, and affordability of care. Critical to patient health is ensuring the human resources are available to work in our nations laboratories to perform accurate testing. The problem is the role of the newly proposed doctoral-prepared CLS practitioner remains undefined. A gap still exists in the healthcare delivery system due to the increase in laboratory rules and regulations, knowledge, and skills needed in today’s delivery of health care.
To complicate things, the role of other laboratory professionals is not well defined. Associate degree and baccalaureate degree personnel are used interchangeably. Curriculum is similar, at times, utilized the same textbooks in both educational programs.
Non-certified employees are hired to perform laboratory tests. Current employees lack the communication skills needed for today’s workplace. Last but not least, laboratory practitioners are leaving the profession because of limited opportunities for advancement.
Clinical laboratory science professionals must be equipped with a new, broader array of skills including the ability to order laboratory tests, analyze laboratory test information, review patient records, conduct consultation, direct communications with patients, and interpret/apply laboratory generated information. So, are we up to the challenge? Can we afford to wait for a new degree to emerge to save the profession?
No one likes to be rejected whether in a personal relationship or for a professional employment opportunity. While I am not an expert in providing advice for broken personal relationships, I can shed some light on handling professional rejection.
Let’s face it, for any job opening, many people will apply, but only one will get the job. It does not mean you are a bad person or not qualified for the job. It simply means the one who received the offer was the most fit for the job in the eyes of the employer. The way you handle rejection is critical in your professional career.
Many rejected candidates behave in a dreadfully unprofessional manner when they hear the “bad” news. Never burn any bridges. The lab professional community is very small and people tend to talk. Don’t add a bad label to your name where you become undesirable, regardless of your professional credentials.
By acting unprofessionally, you are affirming to the employer that they have made the right decision by selecting another candidate and not hiring you.
It is believed that one’s true character emerges during periods of diversity. You need to control your emotions.
Instead of responding in a negative and unpleasant way to the “bad” news, consider saying: “I am disappointed because I was really excited about this position. I am extremely interested in future opportunities with your organization”. Be sincere about it and show interest. You will stay in the picture and when the time comes for the organization to hire a new person, you will be first in the minds of the hiring managers.
As a candidate to an opening, you are just that. You are not guaranteed a job even if you feel you have done outstanding performance during the interview process. Others may have done better. Don’t take rejection in a childish way. Threatening to suit or to take legal action is silly. Demanding for specifics on the qualifications of the hired person is absurd. Intimidating to call someone with influence is ridiculous.
After an interview, it is acceptable to contact the hiring managers with a letter, e-mail or a phone call. However, be courteous! Show your thoughtfulness and professionalism and you will be remembered by leaving a positive impact.