Addressing management issues

Jan. 1, 2010

Edited by C. Anne Pontius, MBA, CMPE, MT(ASCP)

Plan a ceLABration for Lab Week

Q Do you have any suggestions for
National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (NMLPW) — this
year from April 18 to April 24 — for fun, creative activities
that also will give laboratorians the respect and attention they

A How about a ceLABration? Hold an open house,
inviting other departments to tour the lab. Have techs take turns
escorting the guests and explaining the importance of each lab
specialty. Produce a video tour of the lab, with techs explaining how
lab results assist in patient care. Play it in the employee break room
and in the lobby.

In a nearby (clean) room, serve Mellow Yellow,
Mountain Dew, or lemonade in sterile urine cups and chocolate doughnut
holes in new enema buckets.

Bake sugar cookies shaped like WBCs and
platelets, and decorate them with icing, colored sugar, and Nerds to
resemble different cells. Color some of the dough red, and make cookies
shaped like RBCs. (This is time consuming but well worth the effort!) In
the hall outside the ceLABration room, post drawings of different cells
with their identities, and require non-laboratorians to identify their
cookies before eating them.

Each day of Lab Week, post photos of different
lab staff members on a prominent bulletin board, explaining the group’s
or individual’s contribution to quality patient care. Let the
highlighted team or person wear a special badge that day so others can
give them special recognition.

—Ann Bachman, BS,

Tennessee Medical Laboratory Supervisor

Partner and Compliance Department Director


Knoxville, TN

A It has been several decades since
Congress passed the resolution to honor medical laboratory
professionals, but the profession still suffers from a lack of
recognition — both from the general public and other medical

Today, most hospitals have in-house TV channels
that run various features to hospital patients. Form a committee of
motivated staff members and have them develop a script for a short video
about “A Day in the Life of a Medical Laboratory Scientist.” This video
can show the value of the work the lab staff provides in the delivery of
quality healthcare. The video can also include some examples of
interesting patients’ diagnoses due to lab tests and some “mystery
cases” to engage the audience.

Develop a proposal to the public-relations (PR)
department to help sponsor this NMLPW project. Additionally, PR can send
the video to local media outlets for positive publicity for your

Lab staff members will be energized to use their
creativity in a way that promotes the value of their work; and in return
they will receive recognition for their innovative work and — more
importantly — for the part they play in quality patient care.

—Diana Mass, MA,

Clinical Professor and Director

Clinical Laboratory Sciences Program

Arizona State University

School of Life Sciences

Tempe, AZ

A Make 2010 the year you take National
Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Week outside the walls of the
laboratory to make the public and other healthcare professionals
aware of the role that laboratorians play in everyone’s health
and welfare. The first step would be to place NMLPW posters
throughout the facility — cafeterias, drawing stations, and the
front entrance.

Labs are Vital (
offers excellent resources for innovative ideas to showcase laboratory
professionals, including a free download of the award-winning video “A
Life Saved, Laboratory Professionals Make a Difference.”

Many members of the clinical laboratory
profession use the video to share how laboratory services and
laboratorians contribute to healthcare. Play this video in the
outpatient area to educate patients and other healthcare professionals.

Some laboratory professionals could be designated
as the “go-to” individuals for questions about lab tests. Wear an “Ask
Me About Your Lab Tests” buttons or T-shirts. Use this week as an
opportunity to get out of the lab and share pride in your profession.

—Marcia Armstrong,

MLT Program Director Emeritus University of Hawaii
Kapiolani Community College
Honolulu, HI

Bottom line: Everyone loves a celebration, and
the professionals that work in the laboratory industry certainly deserve
to be celebrated. Whether you are in a one-person or a 100-person
laboratory, find a way to implement a recognition opportunity during
NMLPW. Offer the staff recognition suggestions — such as the wonderful
recommendations presented here by some experts in the laboratory field —
and have the staff vote for what will be most gratifying to them. Work
with the lab staff and give them what they want. It is a sure win
to let them know they are appreciated.

Anne Pontius is a senior medical practice
consultant with State Volunteer Mutual Insurance Co. in Brentwood, TN,
and president of CLMA. Send questions to Ms. Pontius at
[email protected].