In April, one of my wonderful mentors, Rodney Rohde, PhD, MS, SV, SM(ASCP)CM, MBCM, and I co-wrote an article about removing the “hidden” aspect from the phrase “the hidden profession that saves lives” in honor of Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (MLPW). The article was split into two parts, defining both the purpose and importance of the medical laboratory to those outside of the profession, as well as what current professionals can do to increase awareness of the profession.
Once it was published, we hit the ground running getting the word out about the article. We turned to social media and shared the article like there was no tomorrow—posting the article on numerous lab pages, local news pages, national TV show pages (Dr. Oz, The Today Show, The Doctors, Ellen, etc.) and of course our own personal pages to share with our family and friends.
The article took off and was shared thousands of times. I read the comments people wrote on the lab pages where we shared the article and was surprised to see so much feedback. Many people wrote that they enjoyed and appreciated the article. People expressed pride to be a part of this profession and would share the article on their own social media pages, boldly saying, “This is what I do!” I could feel the passion that these people have for our profession through my computer screen, and it brought me so much joy to know that there were so many people out there that felt the same way I did.
While the good comments outweighed the bad, it was the bad ones that seemed to stick out. I understand we all have bad days at work, but how do you dislike what you do every day? I just don’t understand the negativity. Regardless of where you work, we are all lucky enough not only to have a job, but to have one that saves lives. That, in itself, is enough reason to like and be proud of what we do.
When I was in college, my advisor, who worked the bench for many years before getting into education, told us that we would come across many people in the field like this. Sure enough, I have come across those people, but through ASCLS, I have found that there are even more people out there that know the true value of what we do.
My advisor was right when she told me the medical laboratory profession is one of the best. We are the first ones to know if a patient has leukemia; we can determine if an organ is a perfect match; we can deliver blood to the ER that can revive a trauma patient; we help couples struggling with fertility issues; and the list goes on and on. Sometimes, I am just in awe of what I have the capability of doing.
We will always be needed, and a degree in this field can take you anywhere and you can do anything. My advice to new graduates of the medical laboratory profession is to rise above the negativity. In order for people to respect us as professionals, we must respect and be proud of what we do first. Ultimately, we all have a choice. We can chose to lose sight of why we entered this field and forget the importance of our work or we can take hold of that passion and take it as far as hard work and our dreams will allow.