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Big Laboratorians Don’t Cry

By Jessica Lawless posted 08-03-2020 22:55


Big Laboratorians Don’t Cry

By Jessica Lawless MLS(ASCP)CM


Times are interesting during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We are in a new world with many obstacles to navigate. One thing rings true with laboratory professionals, though. We are a resilient, hardworking, and flexible group of people. We have weathered so much already during these times and are continuing to change and improve every day. As a fellow laboratorian, I want you all to know that I see your efforts and hear your words. I want to point out that all of those emotions that seem overwhelming at times are okay.


What do emotions have to do with laboratory work? I believe that emotions play a huge role in our lives in the lab. Most see us as an often weird, nerdy, introverted lot, but what I have found is that so many laboratory professionals are also deeply caring people. Many of us chose the lab because being face-to-face with those hurting and ill is something that affects us deeply. There is no lack of caring in the lab. We are saddened when a baby doesn’t make it; we are nervous when those critical results have to be called; and we cheer when that cancer patient is finally in remission. Emotions are everywhere.


What I see in my coworkers during this pandemic time is a group of humans who are desperately trying to keep themselves together so that they can continue to do their jobs. I observe people show up to work despite fears that they might get sick from handling specimens and being at work. I know people who have their own underlying conditions that make them nervous to many interactions with others. I see those with families who are stressed about taking COVID-19 home with them. I see worry for those loved ones that they know that have succumbed to sickness. I see the strain of an already heavy workload made heavier for those who are covering for coworkers who are being tested and quarantined. I see the frustration when much needed supplies are not available, again. I see the sadness when we have to call the doctors to report more and more positive test results. I observe the begging and frustration on social media of those healthcare workers trying to advocate for what we believe is the best way to handle this situation. I see the struggle to try to get those focused on political ideologies to see the human side of healthcare.


I ask that my peers in the laboratory please remember to put some time into these emotions. It is perfectly fine to cry. It is normal to feel fear and frustration. It is not weak to be nervous for yourself and those you love. It is HUMAN. These feelings are VALID. Find that friend or family member that will just let you vent if you don’t want to do it at work. Managers, I ask that you create a space where feelings are okay. Give yourself some grace during these trying times. When you have vented out the negative, though, please remember to fill yourself up with the positive. Think of something every day that makes you proud to be someone on the front lines. I am proud of you and am honored to be a part of this wonderful group of professionals. Keep doing the amazing work that you do EVERY DAY. You are so important.




08-24-2020 23:33

Thanks for writing about this, Jessica.  The word "resilience" has been popping up more and more especially in regards to mental health during quarantine status.  I think this absolutely describes laboratorians both now and through the history of our profession.

This doesn't mean we have to (nor should we) swallow the tough feelings and pretend they don't exist!  I love the suggestion for spaces to give co-workers a place to release tensions.  Sometimes it's difficult to find someone outside our immediate work environment to find someone we can talk to who can appreciate what's going on.

(Note: For more info on what a "safe space" is and its intention, check out the video on anti-racism posted by Kelcey in the DAC community when they talk about "brave space").

08-23-2020 11:51

nice article. thank  you

08-15-2020 17:27

I am so glad that you have so active and vocal and such a great voice in our organization. Teaching you was a great pleasure. I learned from you also at that time and continue to do so.

08-05-2020 10:50

Great article--thank you!

08-04-2020 14:00

Thank you, great article, Jessica! I agree that in our field of dedicated professionals, we sometimes forget to allow space for emotional outbursts. In an already stressful environment, us lab folks need to be able to vent.

08-04-2020 12:56

Thank you, that was a very nice article.

08-04-2020 10:16

​​This is very well put. I imagine, when the smoke clears, there will be some healthcare professionals with PTSD. There will be people who have a very hard time dealing with their emotions. I hope that employers recognize this and offer counseling services for those who need it. We are all doing what needs to be done to care for our patients, but there will come a time when it catches up with us, if it hasn't already. Thank you, Jessica, for taking the time to acknowledge this and put it into words.

08-04-2020 09:27

Great article, Jessica! Love your positive approach!