As I have now completed all requirements for graduation, all that I have left to do is walk across the stage. I am honored that I was chosen to receive the Dean’s award for Outstanding Academic Excellence and will also be a featured graduate in the university’s journal (will link to it when it is available). This experience has been most stressful, humbling, and rewarding as I officially launch a new profession as a Doctor of Clinical Laboratory Science. I have been offered and accepted a position at my clinical residency site after a receiving enormous support from the physicians at that facility.
For those who are pursuing the DCLS behind me, there is still much to be done. Just as you evaluate research results, one positive result shows that it is possible, but it requires duplication of those results to prove a model works. It will be up to each of you to continue to document and continue to prove, as I have, that the addition of a DCLS to the healthcare team does indeed improve patient outcomes, improve patient safety, and decreases healthcare costs. In feedback from physician residents, the addition of a DCLS also appears to improve medical education and the residency experience. We will have to continue to prove our worth for this profession to be fully implemented. I cannot do it alone. We are all in this together. We must work together to document and prove our collective worth to ensure the DCLS continued success.
For those of you considering the DCLS path, think carefully and be prepared for a difficult, yet rewarding road. With this profession still in infancy, nothing will be handed over on a silver platter. It will likely take 10 years before hospital administrators fully recognize the need to have at least one DCLS in their facility. Clinical Pharmacists faced a similar situation a few decades ago, but they persevered and proved their worth. We will have to do the same. This is a path that, should you choose to take it, you must be fully committed to proving to a facility, as I have, that you are indispensable and they cannot effectively provide healthcare without you. You will not find job listings right now for a DCLS, and it will likely be at least a couple of years before you do. Beginning the DCLS journey is a leap of faith, in which you know in your heart this service is needed for the benefit of both your patients and your facility. If you are not fully committed, it is not the profession for you.
Finally, for those who said that no physician or facility would allow or hire a DCLS, I have shown that is simply not true. The vast majority of the physicians I have encountered have been extremely supportive and welcoming. Would they accept a bachelor’s degree bench-level scientist? Not likely. The doctorate degree is a large part of what allows us to gain a seat at the table with the physicians. Whether we like it or not, there is a hierarchy in both science and medicine, and the doctoral degree opens the door into the upper level of the hierarchy to be heard by those at the top. The physicians are open and accepting of the DCLS. They have learned from practicing with a Clinical Pharmacist, how beneficial it can be having an expert in specific field readily available to assist them. Additionally, the cost savings accrued from having a DCLS is enough to turn any hospital administrator’s head.
I will continue to post case studies and experiences in this blog and urge my fellow DCLS practitioners in training to reach out to me. I would like for us all to come together, discuss our experiences, trials and tribulations, and perhaps, collectively, address professional issues as they arise. I will post more in the future as this idea further develops.
Until then … I plan to celebrate a little … and take a little walk across a stage to pick up a hard-earned piece of paper.