By Katherine Thompson LaFiandra-McCall
It is finally Lab Week! It is a week to celebrate and be celebrated for all of the hard work that all of the individuals in hospital laboratories around the country do on a daily basis. Lab week is a great way to spread the word about our profession and help start forming those special professional relationships that get each of us through the busy times. It is the week for getting involved, getting conversational, and getting excited about MLS professionals and the lab!
The first step to celebrate lab week is to get involved with your coworkers. But let’s face it – laboratory professionals have a “rep” of being introverted. It’s a hard rep to break, and an even harder personality trait to overcome when necessary. One aspect of our job that I believe we should be more focused on is intra-laboratory involvement. This would involve breaking the shackles of introversion and getting involved with your team members, other professionals at your workplace, and supporting societies such as ASCLS or ASCP. Being involved with your team members usually comes the easiest as you see these people every day, and usually can’t help but become invested in developing some sort of relationship with them. Now, people sometimes say they like to keep work and personal life separate which is valid; however, you can still form relationships with your coworkers, but they can be completely professional. Some people form relationships by sharing life experiences, but others aren’t comfortable with that, introverted or not. You can form a healthy, professional relationships with coworkers in many other ways! Showing up to work on time, performing your job well and efficiently, and always being polite, even if you aren’t close with anyone in particular. This can leave a lasting impression on others that you are a professional worker that generally gets the job done without any drama. For this year’s Lab Week, think about the relationships that you have built and take time to talk to someone or share something new with them. Beyond Lab Week, I would suggest fostering these relationships because the laboratory community is very small. Most managers know people that have worked at numerous hospitals, and nurturing these relationships will help you if you ever look for another job.
Secondly, you need to get your hospital in the Lab Week loop. Some hospitals don’t celebrate Lab Week as much as others because it is not as well-known as other professional weeks. Increasing the visibility of the profession in your hospital is a much-needed step in the road to greater recognition. You can start by getting people in your laboratory involved. See about getting t-shirts made that celebrate the lab. You can even sell these to other departments to raise money for laboratory activities (pizza week/food for the lab/etc.). T-shirts are a great way to show other departments about the laboratory as they can have all the different departments on it! You can set up a Bingo Game for the laboratory workers or do something special for them such as a paid meal one day! Sometimes just taking the time to showcase some of the employees is exciting!
You can find more lab week ideas and resources on ASCLS’s website. Getting involved with ASCLS has great benefits and offers a community of like-minded individuals with whom you can discuss many different topics. Interacting with them on the ASCLS Connect Community can allow you to form professional connections with many different people. Staying active in ASCLS keeps you up to date on new information and developments in the field. This, along with continuing education, publication samples, and other member benefits, makes ASCLS a great investment for your future.