Medical Laboratory Professionals Week Approaches

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In light of Medical Laboratory Professionals Week 2017, I wanted to take this quarter’s post and thank all of you who work hard in so many ways to get patients the results they need. You truly are “All Stars.” I thought it would be interesting to have an interactive sort of post; feel free to write in the comments examples of how you and your lab go above and beyond to help patients.

Here is just one example of how the Molecular Diagnostics Lab here at Nebraska Medicine continues to do our part to serve our patient population. Our hospital (University of Nebraska Medical Center) has become a participating center for the TAPUR trial. This stands for “Targeted Agent and Profiling Utilization Registry” study; it is a non-randomized clinical trial that is essentially matching anticancer drugs to genomic variants in the patient’s tumor. Currently, most drugs are given based first on what type of tumor it is, then by the genomic variants. For example, if a patient has a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), and that tumor has a duplication in the KIT gene (p.A502_Y503dup), that tumor is sensitive to a drug called Imatinib, among others, and that drug has been shown to help fight the GIST. The TAPUR study’s goal is to see if any tumor that presents with that KIT variant is sensitive to Imatinib, whether the tumor is a GIST or some other type of cancer.

What does this have to do with our lab? Well, there are certain criteria necessary for a patient to be eligible for this trial. In addition to being 18 years or older, not currently pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the patient must have a solid tumor, multiple myeloma, or B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma that is not responding to standard anti-cancer treatment and they must be able to be active for at least half the day, every day. Lastly, they need to have had a genomic or molecular test performed on their tumor. I and the technologists that I work with have seen an increase in our testing since our hospital has become a center for this trial because of that last point. We run an assay that tests areas of 50 genes that are known to contain “hotspot” regions that are commonly mutated in different types of cancers, and we run this by next generation sequencing (more to come regarding this type of technology–stay tuned for next quarter’s post!). We have been testing tumors of patients that have not been responding to treatment, and we all realize that each one of the tests that we perform has an impact on how that patient’s tumor will be treated. And here I have to commend the techs in our lab for thriving when faced with the challenge of this increase in testing–they have done an excellent job with the added workload and with keeping up with the changes that are made in this rapidly evolving area of the lab. I think we all appreciate this aspect of our careers–knowing that the hard work we put in every day to do our jobs to the best of our abilities can and does have an effect on people’s lives. Thank you all for everything you do!

For more information on the TAPUR trial, follow this link: http://www.tapur.org/.

 

rapp_small

-Sharleen Rapp, BS, MB (ASCP)CM is a Molecular Diagnostics Coordinator in the Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory at Nebraska Medicine. 

Happy Medical Laboratory Professionals Week!

Laboratory professionals are disease detectives, and quite often the unsung hero in patient care. Thank you for all the hard work you do on a daily basis!

How does your laboratory celebrate lab week?

 

So, What Does MLPW Mean to Me?

So, I’m going to continue the thread from my previous blog post next week since this is Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (or what we affectionately refer to as Lab Week). Coincidentally, for a public health-oriented person like me, Earth Day (April 22) is also during this week; globally, some celebrate the entire week as Earth Week. So, I encourage you to celebrate both.

Pathology can be a hidden or invisible profession to many, even more so on the lab side. Even though we are dependent on lab results to guide clinical care (at least 70% of clinical decisions are guided by lab results), it’s easy to forget that there are lab professionals and pathologists working assiduously, sometimes late into the night, behind the scenes to make sure we receive timely and accurate, lab results for our patients.

So, what exactly is Lab Week? It’s the time each year when we celebrate and recognize these lab professionals and pathologists, a time where we recognize them as more than nameless faces but as team members who vitally and equally contribute to patient care. Many hospitals and health care centers will highlight the work of those in their clinical labs with poster sessions and talks on relevant topics this week. Some will also cater Lab Week celebrations for their staff as a thank you for all their diligent work that often goes unrecognized or taken for granted during the rest of the year.

So, as we residents, what can we do? Well, first, we can get to know our lab professionals and this week in particular, personally thank them for all their hard work. I’m pretty sure it’ll bring a smile to their faces if you make a deliberate effort to recognize and say “thank you” this week. We can learn their names and get to know them on a personal level and not just when we need a test result or to troubleshoot a lab related issue.

I’m on pretty friendly terms with most of the lab techs from my clinical rotations. They have invited me to department holiday celebrations (even when I’m not on their rotation), gave great feedback about me to my rotation director/attending (trust me, they often do get to comment on how you perform during a CP rotation), and gave me a heads up to help me out of potentially difficult situations. I’ve learned a lot from them and they’re always happy when we show interest in their work. Plus, I never treat anyone in a formal hierarchical manner (no one calls me “Dr. Chung” but rather “Dr. Betty” or just by my first name). I acknowledge that there is always something that they teach me and that I believe that we are colleagues working together on a team…not that I am the doctor and they are not. And often, lab professionals will be the first to detect a potential patient clinical issue, even if they have limited patient history access, so I totally give them props when they help me out in this way. And having a good attitude with your lab staff, as I mentioned, can go a long way for both your learning and advancement on the rotation.

As residents, CP rotations are often when we have the opportunity (as opposed to surgpath) to take vacation time and many look at these rotations as unofficial boards study time. But spending physical time in the lab is still learning. And for me, I learn better by doing as opposed to sitting in a lecture or sitting at my desk reading a textbook. The lab regulatory policies and management issues (and even the basic science concepts) we need to know to pass boards, we can learn more efficiently if we spend actual time IN the lab working alongside our lab professionals on these very issues. In the lab, we can also serve as consultants for our referring physicians on the intricacies and appropriateness of specific lab tests and help with regulatory (CAP/CLIA) inspections – even if your rotation doesn’t specifically require this, you can still ask to be more involved – trust me, you’ll learn more this way (and it is boards studying).

So, how are you planning to celebrate Lab Week and acknowledge those in the clinical labs this week? While you’re at all, you can help contribute to Earth Day/Earth Week as well by committing yourself to being more environmentally conscious (don’t forget to recycle!) from this week forth.

 

Chung

Betty Chung, DO, MPH, MA is a second year resident physician at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System in Chicago, IL.

Laboratory Professionals Week Celebrations Around the World

Happy Laboratory Professionals Week! Lab week is celebrated not only in the United States but around the world as well. As in the United States, labs get in on the fun on an individual level as they recognize their employees and the importance of the lab, and larger organizations organize celebrations and community outreach events.

In Cote d’Ivoire, located in West Africa, there is a week’s worth of activities and celebrations planned. The activities include ceremonies recognizing laboratory professionals throughout the country, demonstration sessions, and community outreach to the general public via radio broadcasts, information pamphlets, and text messages, among other activities. The official lab week ceremony will take place on April 22nd in the largest city of Cote d’Ivoire, Abidjan, at INFAS (the Institut National de Formation des Agents de Sante or the National Institute for Training of Health Workers). Speeches will be given by high ranking government officials, including the Minister of Health, as well as representatives of CDC-PEPFAR, and the Association Ivoirienne de Biologie Technique (l’AIBT), the national lab association.

In Tanzania, located in East Africa, the Tanzanian laboratory professionals association, Medical Laboratory Scientists Association of Tanzania (MeLSAT) has organized awareness raising activities and celebrations as well. Throughout the week they will provide community outreach by offering testing and educational information on HIV, diabetes, and high blood pressure. They will also be collecting blood donations for the national blood bank. The lab week closing celebration will be a parade in the town of Sumbawanga to celebrate laboratory professionals and their achievements and to raise awareness among the community.

What are you doing to celebrate in your neck of the woods?

 

Levy

-Marie Levy spent over five years working at American Society for Clinical Pathology in the Global Outreach department.

Lab Week Fun

Since it’s National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week–aka Lab Week–we’d like to start off the week with a poll.

Happy Lab Week, everyone!

Edited 4/25/14 to add: Thanks for playing, everyone! The correct answer–which over 88 percent of you knew–is Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons