Volume 37 Number 2 | April 2023
Aymen Saihati, MS
Although they are essential to the process of disease diagnosis and treatment, medical laboratory professionals are frequently in the background and go unnoticed. Through discussion of the benefits of professional visibility for laboratory professionals, the obstacles they face, and the ways in which they can improve their situation, this article hopes to help get the word out about the value of working in this field.
Laboratory testing and analysis are an integral part of medical diagnosis and treatment, and it is the job of medical laboratory professionals to carry these out. They do essential, often unseen work, for doctors and hospitals by taking vital samples and running tests. The results of laboratory tests account for “70-80 percent of diagnoses’ decisions,” as Islin (2010) stated. They play a crucial role in detecting and accurately diagnosing serious conditions like cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. They must also detect and identify infectious diseases like COVID-19 and track the success of treatments.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for skilled workers in laboratories. They were essential in locating the virus and following its spread, and their contributions are still significant today in the quest to find a cure. They have been working around the clock, sometimes in perilous conditions, to get reliable results as soon as possible. They have also played a significant role in evolving testing strategies and tools, such as rapid antigen tests and home testing kits (Leber et al., 2022).
“At the end of the day, it’s vital to remember that the difficulties encountered by laboratory professionals are not exclusive to the laboratory setting; comparable problems may be seen in other areas of healthcare as well. Only through collaboration and the exchange of ideas can we raise the profile of the healthcare industry as a whole …”
The professionals who work in laboratories play an essential role, but they often struggle to get their work seen by others in the field. They spend most of their time in relative isolation, where they may or may not receive proper recognition for their efforts. Their efforts should be more valued by other healthcare professionals because they are not part of the direct patient care team. Additionally, laboratory personnel might have access to different educational and career progression opportunities than their counterparts in other healthcare fields. However, as a laboratory professional, you can grow in medical and non-medical fields. But, you have to take your path and lead your career direction.
To solve these problems, laboratory professionals should collaborate with their peers and assume their due responsibility in protecting health alongside doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. They should also seize opportunities to spread knowledge about their field and the value of scientific research. They should also join groups like these to raise their profile in the medical community and get more respect from their peers.
Laboratory professionals should be included in patient care and encouraged to work with other healthcare team members. Therefore, healthcare organizations should facilitate such chances. This can be done by putting professionals in the laboratory on interdisciplinary teams and giving them access to training and advancement possibilities. Better patient outcomes may result from interdisciplinary teams because of the sharing of knowledge and expertise among various healthcare providers. In addition, better patient outcomes can result from providing laboratory workers with opportunities for continuing education and professional development, which will help them keep up with the newest innovations in their industry (Van Spronsen, 2022).
Moreover, healthcare institutions should acknowledge the efforts of laboratory professionals by paying them competitive wages, providing them with generous benefits, and giving them many opportunities for professional growth and advancement. Provide leadership positions and promotions for laboratory professionals to help them develop their careers. A few ways to achieve this goal include evaluating and rewarding employees based on their performance, praising their efforts publicly, and allowing them to expand their skill sets and advance in their careers.
Raising public understanding of the value added by laboratory workers to the healthcare system is also crucial. Media campaigns and social media engagement can assist in spreading the word about the value of laboratory testing and analysis in medical diagnosis and care. A concentrated effort to improve diversity and inclusivity in the industry is needed to overcome the problems that laboratory professionals encounter. This can be done by awarding promotions based on merit and performance and by hiring and training a diverse workforce (Van Spronsen, 2022).
The exposure and awareness of laboratory professionals can be increased in several ways besides the ones mentioned above. Researchers and professionals in the laboratory can promote their work and teach the public about the value of laboratory testing and analysis by, for instance, posting updates and links to their websites on social media and other online forums. They can also engage in outreach activities like public speaking to inform the general public about their field.
The media’s portrayal of those who work in laboratories is another area where progress might be made. It is possible to achieve this goal by soliciting the participation of laboratory professionals in interviews and other forms of media coverage. Further, the media and periodicals can help by publicizing the efforts of those who work in laboratories and providing balanced and comprehensive coverage of the topic (Leber et al., 2022).
It’s also worth stressing that laboratory personnel should work to raise their profile outside the confines of the medical community. This can be done by presenting information about the value of laboratory testing and analysis at community events like health fairs and community health education programs.
At the end of the day, it’s vital to remember that the difficulties encountered by laboratory professionals are not exclusive to the laboratory setting; comparable problems may be seen in other areas of healthcare as well. Only through collaboration and the exchange of ideas can we raise the profile of the healthcare industry as a whole, raise the level of respect patients have for their doctors, and ultimately enhance patient outcomes (MacMillan, 2002).
Workers in clinical laboratories are typically undervalued despite their importance to patient treatment. We can better acknowledge and value the efforts of these unsung heroes if we get the word out about the value of public recognition in one’s field. By recognizing the difficulties laboratory professionals experience, working to alleviate them, and providing them with avenues for professional growth and advancement, we may help them assume their appropriate place in health protection alongside all healthcare practitioners. The healthcare community, the laboratory community, and society must all work together to ensure that laboratory personnel are respected and valued for their contributions.
- Alsaihati, A. (2021, April 13). Guarding health from the shadows. ASCLS Today. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://ascls.org/guarding-health-from-the-shadows/
- Islin, R. (2010). The laboratory test requests significantly increased, and laboratory analyses increased much more. Journal of Medical Laboratory Science, 1(1), 1-3.
- Leber, A. L., Peterson, E., & Dien Bard, J. (2022). The hidden crisis in the times of Covid-19: Critical shortages of medical laboratory professionals in clinical microbiology. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 60(8), e00241-22.
- MacMillan, D. (2002). Shortage of laboratory professionals: recruitment and retention strategies. Clinical Microbiology Newsletter, 24(9), 65-68.
- Van Spronsen, A. D. (2022). The Role of Medical Laboratory Professionals in Laboratory Stewardship.
Aymen Saihati is CEO & Leadership Expert at MARKO Advance in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.