Are We Creating Wisdom After Y2K?

We all remember the panic and drama over the centennial turn of the century? Well, here we are in the middle of the second month of the fifteenth year of this “new millennium.” Who could imagine we’d be this far into the future this fast?

As the world turns, we balance on the precipice of our “seasoned and experienced” laboratory professionals reinventing, repurposing, redefining their careers, or just moving on to enjoy life after laboratory service—and leaving the bench at a rate that looks like a diabetic insulin spike. We are also experiencing a surge of new laboratory interest, (thanks, CSI!) and it’s refreshing to see students eager to learn and practice in our labs and specialty departments. But there is a “gap” in the middle, a desert of years when schools closed, students went into nursing or pharmacy or radiology instead of laboratory science, and we didn’t “feel” it because we were in the prime years of our careers. This “gap” is very soon going to appear on the horizon and it’s looking a bit like the Olduvai Gorge…deep and wide with not too many ways to cross unscathed.

It is with urgency that those of us still active in the field begin to engage, mentor, sponsor and grow new laboratory professionals around the world. Seek out that student you don’t know yet, take that youngest tech to lunch, make friends with a student/young tech from another country, take a turn at teaching and training (yep, without the stipend or salary bonus—just do it because someone did it for you a long time ago, and I’m guessing they weren’t compensated either…) I’d like to challenge everyone to leave some knowledge behind as you take the next step on life’s path. There are so many ways to do it, find a way to give a little bit back, help complete the circle.

Just remember…the next generation of medical technologists and laboratory scientists are going to be performing tests and releasing results for us one of these days. Wouldn’t it be great if they were as good as I want them to be when they’re doing my CBC and chemistries, and cross matching that unit I hope I don’t need during surgery? I’ll be crossing my fingers, and counting on the fact that YOU were one of their mentors!

Here’s to the next 15 years in our Y2K world! Cheers!

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Beverly Sumwalt, MA, DLM, CLS, MT(ASCP) is an ASCP Global Outreach Volunteer Consultant.

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