Volume 35 Number 2 | April 2021
Clinical laboratories are essential to medicine and fundamental to modern research. Laboratory professionals are usually unnoticed and silent due to the fact they are mainly in laboratories and not seen by others. However, lab professionals produce results that make “70-80 percent of decisions in diagnoses” (Islin, 2010, para. 1). The laboratory test requests significantly increased, and laboratory analyses increased much more (Islin, 2010, para. 1). This article speaks about the laboratory professionals’ efforts; especially as the laboratory role becomes even more critical during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also look at how the laboratory major can robustly help laboratory practitioners build their medical and non-medical field career paths.
“I urge laboratory scientists and medical technologists to confidently continue engaging people in their fields and take their rightful place in safeguarding health next to physicians and nurses.”
Today, with the COVID-19 pandemic, lab practitioners are overloaded with samples that need quick and accurate testing while maintaining the highest safety and cautionary practices and maintaining professionalism and best practice standards. Those tasks are not comfortable or pleasant when working under pressure because laboratory personnel work with suspicious and assumed infectious samples. Laboratory personnel protect themselves by using personal protection equipment correctly and testing all samples as infectious, especially since not all people who have COVID-19 are symptomatic.
Now, the most critical tests used to diagnose COVID-19 correctly are lab tests. In many countries, including Saudi Arabia, they are requesting the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test as a mandatory test to travel from one country to another. That means additional load for laboratory personnel because they work on patients’ samples and travelers’ samples.
In light of the times, lab professionals are gaining more appreciation and recognition from the general public and medical practitioners. They are also becoming more confident in the significant role they play, what they stand for, and represent. Based on my own experience, I observed that laboratories are usually the first area that is forgotten when something good happens, and the first remembered and blamed if anything goes wrong, even if the problem did not arise from laboratory actions. I hope one day lab professionals will receive the proper appreciation they deserve.
On the other hand, the rigorous scientific training lab professionals receive academically and professionally develop their ability to take a systematic approach, as well as their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. This education is rewarding, as it opens doors in both the medical and non-medical fields and many more. Because of that, laboratory professionals can grow in their careers, either in the laboratory sciences such as hematology, cytology, or clinical biochemistry, or in other healthcare areas, such as health administration, quality, infection prevention, and control. However, they can grow a career path in a non-medical area related to quality, safety, administration, or other fields in non-medical organizations.
I urge laboratory scientists and medical technologists to confidently continue engaging people in their fields and take their rightful place in safeguarding health next to physicians and nurses. Indeed, their actions speak louder than words! I salute you all!
Islin, H. (2010, January). Interpretation of laboratory results. Acute care testing. Retrieved February 07, 2021, from https://acutecaretesting.org/en/articles/interpretation-of-laboratory-results
Aymen Alsaihati is DBA Candidate, Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Leadership Facilitator, and Motivational Speaker in Saudi Arabia.