A round of applause for the laboratorians

Feb. 25, 2019

Your job as a laboratorian may often feel thankless. Perhaps the doctors and nurses at your facility take for granted what you do. And maybe your friends and family don’t even know what a medical laboratory technologist is. So, here at MLO, we want to take the opportunity in our 50th anniversary edition to say:

Thank you for everything that you do!

Medical laboratory scientists are an amazing breed, that has an aptitude for science, and utilize their critical thinking skills day in and day out. You put your life at risk by working in an environment where there are biohazardous materials like blood, urine, and tissue samples. Many of you have long hours, due to the lab being open 24/7, which means overnights, weekends, and holidays. You all surely spend a large portion of the day on your feet, which can lead to physical repercussions.

But you do it all for the patients.

Laboratorians play such an integral role in the healthcare system. Your job is to assist physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases—these test results are where the patient who’s been waiting for some answers can finally begin to see the light. For a patient who is waiting on a cancer diagnosis, they are depending on you, whether they know it or not.

My co-editor and I recently had the opportunity to tour Sarasota Memorial Health Care System’s laboratory (read the article on page 20) and could not have received a warmer welcome into their workspace. I can’t remember one tech that didn’t have a huge smile on their face when we were chatting. As we all know, any kind of work comes with frustrations, but the group truly seemed cheerful and positive, despite any of the day’s obstacles.

A lot of the article is about the shift toward automation in the lab. There’s no question that troubleshooting analyzers is a tough job, but no one really complained. They just stated they wanted to do the best job they could (saying they may need more training on fixing equipment or need more practice) for the hospital, the physicians, the nurses, and of course the patients. Which, honestly, is the most selfless attitude that I’ve ever seen at any place I’ve been invited into to conduct interviews. To me, it finally seemed like I was interacting with a group that wasn’t about the dreaded bottom line.

My background is mostly in healthcare information technology, so it was interesting to hear the old-school techs discuss laboratory information systems and joke about when file cards were all they used. A major change like computers could have turned a lot of staff off the whole field, but it was clear to me that all of them pushed through, learned the new technology, and most importantly…embraced it.

To wrap things up, I thought it was only fitting to dedicate this editorial in our 50th anniversary edition to all the laboratorians who read MLO. Thank you again, for everything you do. Your profession may not be the most well-known, or glamorous (how could anything involving urine samples be?) but know that the staff at MLO and your fellow laboratorians, all recognize your hard work, dedication, and loyalty to the job.