Through this blog I have shared a few experiences of mine in reaching outside of the laboratory to work with the physicians and other healthcare professional to improve patient safety and patient care. Yes, to do consultation at the level that I have described, and will continue to describe this blog, advanced education beyond the bachelor’s degree is necessary. But there are plenty of opportunities that every laboratorian can do breach the traditional walls of the laboratory.
Here is a list of ways (and it is in no way a complete list) that you, as a medical laboratorian, can put a face on our profession:
- Speaking at elementary schools about “germs” and hand washing. This is really cool if you use the glow in the dark powder to show how quickly bacteria can spread.
- Speaking at middle and high schools are the careers available in the medical laboratory.
- Offering tours of your laboratory to the physicians and other health professionals in your facility.
- Developing an educational program to improve nurse collections of various types of laboratory specimens.
- Volunteering at health and wellness screenings where glucose and/or lipid screenings are being performed.
- Speaking at local churches, synagogues, temples, and civic organizations about topics related to the laboratory. Examples could be about lipid testing, diabetic diagnosis and monitoring, common causes of anemia and the laboratory tests to diagnose it, importance of cervical cancer screening, and importance of sexually transmitted infection screening.
- Speaking at support groups of high-risk individuals (i.e. AA, drug abuse support groups, etc) and the importance of screening for sexually transmitted infections.
Some things that I have done personally in the past include: giving a sexually education talk highlighting the various sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy to high school students, speaking at a career day to high school students, speaking at 1st and 2nd grade classrooms about the spread of germs and hand washing, writing and presenting continuing education program on blood administration for nurses, presenting about pharmacogenomics testing to the medical staff of a facility, and many other things … not to mention this blog 🙂 .
Even beyond these larger outreaches, even small encounters to improve relations between the laboratory and other healthcare professionals are just as important. These could include having a “teaching moment” when you take a phone call from a nurse, educating a physician on the correct computer order entry protocol for a test, or even convincing someone why it is important to give blood. It could also be when a friend or relative asked you about their own lab results and you educated them either about the results, suggested a test that they need, or even suggested that they really need a second physician’s opinion.
All of these moments, from the big to the small, count.
I firmly believe that there are medical laboratory scientists that do these types of profession promotion on a daily basis. The problem is that we have never documented that we do them. And as every medical laboratory professional knows … “if it’s not documented, it not done” (thank you to many CLIA, CAP, JCAHO, COLA, DNV, FDA, and every other state agency inspector for drilling this into our brains … forever).
Some of you may be a member of a professional organization; some of you may not. I, personally, am a member of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) and have been involved at the national level for several years. If you are not a member of a professional society, I highly recommend that you become one and get involved. One item that was announced a few days ago was an initiative by the Promotion of the Profession Committee of ASCLS to document each and every one of these moments when someone in the medical laboratory breaks through out of the proverbial basement and makes a connection that educates or elevates the knowledge the other person has about our profession. The more outreach there is from your laboratory to the outside, the easier it will be for you, your colleagues, and eventually, the implementation of a DCLS at your facility.
So, my fellow medical laboratory scientist colleagues, I challenge you this: make your moment and document it at http://www.ascls.org/education-meetings/annual-meeting/share-your-story . The more we all do, the more we all document what we have done, the more empowered we all will be.