Volume 37 Number 5 | October 2023
Gabrielle Elizabeth D’Antoni, MLT(ASCP)CM
Merriam-Webster defines teamwork as “work done by a group acting together so that each member does a part that contributes to the efficiency of the whole.” Success of a laboratory is based on the teamwork of all—whether it is a lonely night shift for one or two techs, or a busy “full moon” day shift with 20 or more techs. Many factors determine the efficacy of a laboratory’s teamwork, such as communication, professionalism, stress management, and collaboration. Can you accurately explain to the doctor or nurse why a test may be incorrectly ordered? Are you prioritizing STAT/urgent tests while also managing effective communication for the critical value on a routine outpatient sample?
Although a classroom lab course may not have true critical values or a STAT type and screen from a trauma in the emergency room, students experience simulated events to foster these important factors to grow into successful team members of the laboratory. Many classroom lessons are rooted in teamwork, and the Lab Fair is no exception. Fletcher Technical Community College’s Lab Fair, held during Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, was initiated by Kerry Toups, MLS(ASCP), in 2022. The Lab Fair is an opportunity for all MLT students to shine their brightest while perfecting communication, professionalism, and teamwork; these are crucial abilities necessary to succeed in a clinical laboratory.
During the Lab Fair, MLT students presented a topic of their choosing to other laboratory professionals, allied health students and faculty, and the public. Topics included, but were not limited to, infectious agents, hereditary diseases, vaccine effectiveness and importance, and antibiotic resistance. Additionally, MLT students coordinated the “background” duties of the fair, including the sign-in table, games, and prizes. Both teamwork and effective communication among presenters were practiced as each MLT student notified an individual prize winner throughout the event. Even though students presented individually on different topics, presenters worked together to answer questions and further explain important aspects of the laboratory not well known to the public. This display of teamwork is what makes true professionals: working together for one common goal—increased knowledge and understanding of the laboratory’s role in a clinical setting.
This year, a health fair was held concurrently with the Lab Fair, and this setup was extremely successful. Medical professionals from local hospitals and clinics presented on a variety of topics, including diet and exercise, sexual wellness and pregnancy resources, and cardiovascular care. MLT students had the opportunity to exchange stories and experiences with other medical professionals who often do not understand what clinical laboratory members do, and this event worked to further bridge the gap of knowledge between laboratory and non-laboratory personnel. Several students noted how interesting it was connecting with professionals not familiar with laboratory duties and procedures. Fletcher MLT students Imogen Eastling and Layne Barnett shared their experiences at this year’s fair.
“The atmosphere was full of curiosity and knowledge,” said Layne Barnett. “I loved being able to take any topic and being able to use my full creativity to create my project for Lab Fair. I chose to do my project on Listeria. I also had a board on Sickle Cell from last semester that I presented. I learned so much that I didn’t already know during my research. I didn’t know how much I actually liked explaining and presenting a topic that I was passionate about; usually I am shy and afraid of presentations. Also, after walking around to all of my peers’ tables, I was so amazed at how creative everyone was with their boards and props and how much effort was put into our projects. We all went ALL OUT! Everyone’s topics were so interesting! The Lab Fair guests’ tables also had a lot of good information about job opportunities, dieting, health, medications, and I was even able to get tested for HIV/Syphilis/Hepatitis C for free! I learned about so many different things!”
Imogen Eastling shared that “Terrebonne General asked to display my Lab Fair trifold there [after the event]!”
Teamwork among healthcare professionals, no matter whether they are lab personnel or not, is critical to effective patient care. Hopefully this Lab Fair (and future fairs) and Medical Laboratory Professionals Week will continue to inspire medical professionals to improve teamwork and create a cohesive unit of effective and efficient patient care.
Gabrielle D’Antoni is a recent graduate of Fletcher Technical Community College and a Medical Laboratory Technician at Opelousas General Main Campus in Opelousas, Louisiana.
Future medical laboratory science professional visits the Fletcher Technical Community College’s Lab Fair.
Hallee Babin, Fletcher Technical Community College MLT student, presents her topic, antibiotic resistance.
Kyle Barksdale explains to staff and students the severity of fast-food outbreaks.