The annual medical laboratory Professionals Week is just around the corner. Is your lab looking for activities and lab gift ideas to geek out during lab week? If so then you know how little information there is when you type “lab week ideas” into Google… and that is why I've decided to share how my lab threw the perfect medical laboratory week celebration.
Being a medical laboratory professional can often feel like a thankless job. Don’t get me wrong; it's cool to play with blood all day just like what they do on CSI, and we all secretly pretend we are Abby Sciuto (or is it just me?), it has to be one of the most underpaid yet technically demanding and morally fulfilling jobs. With the long hours working in clinical labs with no windows, often to the tune of mind-numbing hums of centrifuges, and without any direct contact with the outside world and most importantly with the very patients you are help saving, it can be very hard to feel appreciated on a daily basis, year after year as a medical laboratory professional.
Even during the “medical laboratory professionals week”, the one week out of the year when these hard workers are supposed to be recognized, I’ll bet many hospitals and clinical lab management are simply too busy or don’t have the budget to focus on appreciating these stars who literally do all the BLOODY work. The med lab week often goes by unnoticed under piles of tests waiting to be done. Not speaking from personal experience or anything…
Two years ago I had the fortune of being tasked with organizing the first ever and THE BEST medical laboratory week celebration in the history of time (I knew this because there was practically zero information out there on when I searched for lab week ideas.) Alas, with the help of a ton of amazing people, I was able source some pretty awesome lab week gifts and came up with some great lab week activities. It was such a special experience and such a huge success that I want to share with you, in hopes that hospitals and lab leadership all over the world would make an effort to make these heroes behind the scene feel some love!
I was super lucky to have a partner who was as passionate (by passionate I mean hugely nerdy) as me. We recruited a group of young and naïve up-and-coming technologists who were just as passionate about celebration med lab week. The youngin's reminded me that to make our lab technicians and technologists feel valued, we must make them feel included in the lab week planning process. They also suggested that we invite their family members who sacrifice just as much as their moms / dads / spouses who work nights and days in the medical laboratories.
Once the lab week event details were set, an announcement was made directly from the hospital leadership to the whole department of Pathology and lab medicine with over 400 employees. Banners were posted through out the hospital to announce the arrival of med lab week, and each clinical lab manager was notified to inform their section of what is coming. After all, it was just as crucial to remind the doctors, nurses, and patients just who we are and how important our job is.
We made sure we included volunteers from each of the 15 clinical lab specialties, and even invited the pathologists and the administrative staff because to be honest without them we wouldn’t be able to perform our job as medical technicians and technologists.
With the limited budget we were given, personalized lab gifts and thank you cards were hand-delivered to each employee. The USB key will have the inscription: "Med Lab Professionals - the key to patient care!"
When it came to individual lab gift ideas, our team scoured the web and voted for the best lab logo ideas, and I especially enjoyed designing these quirky med lab mugs full of puns tailored for each medical laboratory section.
One of the lab week activities we planned was a contest for the med lab staff to enter their answer to the question “Why did you become a medical laboratory technician?” The purpose of this lab week activity was to have the med lab techs share their story and passion. I was literally in tears when I read some of these stories…
My inspiration for being a lab professional was my grandma. I always accompanied her in the hospital, particularly in the lab because she is diabetic and she always has blood works. I said to myself, "one day I will be the one to draw blood from my grandma and I will be the one to do her lab works." Thank God it happened and my grandma and my family benefited from it. It's a fulfilling career.
Being a lab tech was not always my dream or first choice. But when I was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2009 I start to believe how important this job is and how beautiful it is to help saving someone's life that you have never met and may never meet.
Superman, Batman, and Spiderman - Over 99% of the world doesn't know their true identity, and same thing goes for Lab Professionals! We are the scientists and researchers from behind the curtains who discover the reasons behind illnesses and try to come up with a solution... We are the heroes in the shadows...
We concluded the week of celebration with an outdoors fun family BBQ where lab professionals could proudly invite their family to celebrate with them. The BBQ was open all afternoon so employees on various shift had a chance to participate. Participants could win these cute highlighters and badge holders, and everybody wanted one! I wish I had the time to capture the smiles and the pride on the children and family members’ faces, who were visibly honored and excited to see how vital their lab professional family member is to the hospital and to patient care.
After the BBQ and for the following week, it was so heartwarming when many people came to us and told us that they have never felt as appreciated as they did in the past week. The thanks and the smiles on their faces lasted for many weeks following the event. I believe the staff was well rejuvenated for another year of hard work behind the scene, so I would say we definitely achieved what we set out to do.
All it takes is a little planning and a sincere “thank you” to make your medical laboratory professionals feel as valued as they deserve. After all, a happy tech makes happy doctors and happy patients! How is your lab planning to celebrate medical laboratory week? Do you have some great lab week ideas and activities to share? I would love to hear about it!
I have also included this cute FREE downloadable thank you card that you can print off and give to a coworker or a loved one.
If you like this article and the card, please comment and share. HAPPY LAB WEEK to all medical laboratory professionals everywhere!
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