Every now and then it’s good to be reminded that laboratories are all very dynamic and play an active role in the delivery of healthcare worldwide. We are often so focused on our day-to-day operations, the tests we’re performing, the myriad of measures we use to assure safety and quality that we tend to fit rather nicely inside the “black box” just by doing what we do every day. So once in a while it’s good to have interesting conversations and experiences that remind us that labs add value in so many areas.
Just this past month I have had the privilege to be part of multiple unique conversations that involved laboratory services and career paths. These included: sitting in on a panel discussion around the Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) training programs; exchanging thoughts and challenges faced by couriers who serve very remote Native American communities in our country; shared and compared notes on world primary care clinics and the need for laboratory services in both western Africa and eastern China; brain-storming ideas and initial plans for merging several lab operations into an efficient and effective new model; and of course, the next exciting adventure for me with ASCP Global Outreach coming up later this summer in Central Asia! These conversations with various experts and leaders in our field covered staffing, recruiting and training, operations, remote challenges, international services, and the vision for the future of laboratory medicine nationally and globally—just about everything from the ground up and every facet from the top down in laboratory medicine was in there somewhere!
As I reflect on the past month or two, I’m reminded that there has never been a dull moment in my laboratory career. In retrospect, what an excellent choice I made all those years ago. Encountering a B positive bleeder in surgery while on the night shift or working solo on Christmas Day with only Shigella group D cultures to keep me company were a few of those times I wasn’t so sure I had made a good decision. Now, looking back, experiences like that have gifted me with knowledge and the experience to share in dialogue with colleagues and perhaps inspire new students in our field both at home and internationally. And lo and behold, even after all these years, there’s still never a dull moment.
–Beverly Sumwalt, MA, DLM, CLS, MT(ASCP) is an ASCP Global Outreach Volunteer Consultant.