A letter of appreciation to phlebotomists everywhere
by Dennis Ernst • April 06, 2021
For as long as I've been writing Phlebotomy Today I've been encouraging managers and educators to provide staff and students with gifts from our catalog during National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (April 18-24) as a way to recognize and reward phlebotomists. Not this year.
Given what we've all gone through over the last year regarding the pandemic, gifts aren't enough. That's why I'm dedicating this month's column to all those who draw blood samples for diagnostic testing, phlebotomists especially. I encourage all managers and educators reading this to pass it along to those they lead and teach, adding their own personalized "ditto" to the message.
For over a year now, phlebotomists around the world have been subjected to stressful working conditions like never before in history. You're overworked, understaffed, and have endured far greater risks to your own health than ever before. Many of you have even been infected with Covid-19 on the job. Most survived; some died. There have never been more reasons to find another way to earn a living, or leave the workforce entirely, than there has been since March of 2020, yet you refuse. You refuse to be defeated, intimidated, beaten down or scared into another line of work. You've not only been pushed to the breaking point, but you've pushed through it without breaking. The word "hero" doesn't even come close to describe you. There is no word. What you've been enduring day in and day out for 13 months now---and will be doing for the foreseeable future---is beyond heroic.
Despite all the stress, the risks, the exhaustion, and the beating your morale has taken, you have found a way to dig down deep inside and pull up yet another day's worth of strength, endurance, and motivation. Just when you thought your well had run dry and your spirit had fully emptied out, you woke up and found more. Because of who you are, you expended it all the next day, just like every other day, only to find more the next morning. On and on you go. Not for you, not even for your coworkers or your family. But for your patients, those who have it far worse than you, so that they may be well. This drive, this aspiration, this selfless dedication you have nurtured in yourself is beyond human. It's even beyond superhuman. It's the work of angels.
No gift will thank you enough. No editorial will lift you high enough. No pedestal upon which anyone could place you is tall enough. But you must know there are people among you who could never do their job without you. Most of them, in fact. Without you collecting blood samples, doctors can't diagnose or medicate accurately, nurses can't manage their patients properly, emergency personnel can't triage effectively, and the laboratory has precious little to test. Worst of all, patients can't get well and stay well. Let's face it, without phlebotomists, healthcare cannot function. You are indispensable.
You also must know how greatly appreciated you are. You will never hear it often enough. Not because you aren't, but because most people think and hope you already know, even though you may not. If you don't feel appreciated, let this be the last day you ever wonder. Perish forever any doubt that what you do is taken for granted, expected of you, or assumed to be sufficient unto itself. Don't assume those who don't express appreciation don't appreciate you. They may not have the right words, know the best way, or have developed the skill of effective appreciation. Some don't even know what appreciation from their own superior feels like. It's hard to give what you don't receive.
But you must know, even if it's just me who puts you on a pedestal. But if this was passed on to you from someone else, assume it speaks for them. Otherwise they wouldn't have sent it.
As we celebrate National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, consider yourself celebrated. Gifts are great, but don't let the absence of gifts suggest you are not appreciated. Every healthcare professional, including those for whom you provide services, is stressed and stretched beyond the limits in which they function normally. Most importantly, appreciate others just as they should appreciate you. It's hard to receive what you don't give. It may not be easy, nothing worthwhile is, but you're neither human nor superhuman, remember? You're doing the work of angels.
Blogger's Note: I've posted two inspirational videos on our YouTube channel for sharing with your staff, on social media and embedding into your own web sites and virtual networks.
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