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From the Editor's Desk

Celebrating phlebotomists during Lab Week

by Dennis Ernst • April 02, 2019

Editor's Desk

Dennis Ernst Casual portrait


Everyone knows I hold phlebotomists in high regard. You are the most underappreciated professional in healthcare. That's why I created a tribute video a few years ago and posted it to our web site and YouTube channel. As we celebrate Medical Laboratory Professionals Week April 21-27, I urge you to watch it again. If you're a manager or educator, show it to your staff and students again, or for the first time.

If you're a manager, there's no better time than Lab Week to remind your staff how important they are to the laboratory's ability to run smoothly. I encourage you to set aside Tuesday of Lab Week as Phlebotomist Appreciation Day. There's no limit to what you can do to make these critical professionals feel appreciated. Some suggestions:

  • Offer preferred parking for phlebotomists on their day.
  • Encourage your testing personnel to take a phlebotomist to lunch as their own way to appreciate their contribution to the laboratory.
  • Give them something that improves them like a gift certificate to take a phlebotomy certification exam.
  • Have a pathologist or physician give an uplifting, motivational presentation or inservice on the importance of proper specimen collection to patients and their physicians.
  • Introduce a "Me and My Shadow" mentoring program this month where every tech on staff is assigned to spend a day shadowing a phlebotomist, and then the phlebotomist spends a day in the life of the same tech. After one month, you'll be amazed at how well the two divisions of the laboratory work together as a team.
  • Put your valued staff on display by constructing and posting a bulletin board in the hospital lobby, outpatient waiting area, cafeteria, etc., displaying photos of your phlebotomists. Title it "Phlebotomist Appreciation Day: Drawing Attention to Our Collection Team."

Only high-quality samples can produce the accurate numbers that physicians need to diagnose, medicate, and manage their patients properly; only a staff that feels appreciated will consistently provide the quality samples your lab needs to run smoothly.

If you're a phlebotomist and your employer or manager isn't the type that recognizes team members, take this to heart: while recognition is nice and makes you feel more valued, it's irrelevant to the true professional. For true professionals, satisfaction comes from within. Knowing deep down you do good and important work should fill your well with an abundance of self-satisfaction despite anyone's ambivalence about what you do. Sure, recognition feels good, but those who depend on outside sources for recognition are often disappointed. Assigning it for someone else to provide is always risky and gives some of your power away.
I urge you to embrace your vocation so that your joy doesn't depend on someone embracing it for you. Embrace the truth and be satisfied. The truth is you are indispensable to every lab and every patient. You know it and I know it. If you employer knows it and shows it, that's a bonus and a blessing not everyone will receive this month. Lucky you.

Before I sign off, this is a good month to link to our "Recipe for a Phlebotomist," a free download available on our Free Stuff page. Feel free to share this link and the PDF. Everything on our Free Stuff page is yours to distribute, so print it and post it where you work.



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National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week YouTube recognition

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