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Laboratory Professionals: Unsung Heroes of Healthcare

April 27, 2016

National Lab Week

Today, there are roughly 300,000 clinical laboratory professionals working in the United States. The daily work that these professionals do is critical to the ongoing understanding, diagnosis, and prevention of disease. But because they work mostly behind the scenes in healthcare settings, these lab professionals often go unnoticed as crucial members of the healthcare team. Every year during the last week of April, Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (Lab Week) is celebrated to honor the hard work of clinical laboratory professionals and bring awareness to the profession and expertise that is essential to the proper performance of laboratory testing.

As a specimen procurement company, iSpecimen’s vast network of supply partners consists of hospitals, labs, biorepositories, blood banks, and other healthcare organizations that would not be where they are without the dedication, hard work, and focus of clinical lab personnel. With regard to our work in specimen procurement, clinical lab personnel are the point people at our supply partner sites in ensuring our specimens are picked and packaged appropriately, with the correct handling and storage procedures. Utmost attention to detail is key to making sure the right specimens get to the right customers at the right time.

In an effort to show appreciation for both our supply partners’ staff as well as the laboratory personnel who work internally at iSpecimen, we are observing Lab Week with a variety of efforts. In addition to connecting directly with our partners with appreciation gifts and other recognition activities, internally we are holding breaks and events throughout the week to draw awareness to the important work of lab professionals, while at the same time having fun and enjoying the company of our co-workers.

iSpecimen recently welcomed two laboratory professionals to the iSpecimen team who epitomize the passion and professionalism that this week is designed to celebrate. We sat down with Michelle Burke, MT, Supply Operations Manager and Jessica Pray, MLS (ASCP), Biospecimen Sales Support Specialist, to discuss their work, past and present, and the importance of getting everyone into the Lab Week spirit.

You both came to iSpecimen from laboratory settings. Can you tell us about your prior roles, the work you did, and the importance of Lab Week in those settings?

Jessica: Prior to joining iSpecimen, I worked at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) as a Blood Bank Technologist. I was responsible for testing blood type and screening samples in preparation for transfusions as well as completing complex patient antibody work-ups. I also prepared patient specimens for testing, evaluated test results, and reported results to clinicians while ensuring accuracy and adherence to time frames. Making sure lab equipment was working appropriately was part of my job too. I always looked forward to Lab Week at the BIDMC. Lab professionals interact with nearly every department in a hospital on a daily basis, so having the recognition that we directly impact diagnosing and treating patients was really nice.

Michelle: I worked in both hospital and reference labs for more than twenty years before coming to iSpecimen. Each environment provided me with a unique perspective on the impact that lab professionals have on patient care. In the hospital, I was performing the clinical testing that doctors depend on for diagnosing. The test results give the physicians a clinical picture of the patient at a cellular level. In the reference laboratory, I performed rarer tests that the everyday clinic might not see, such as for Lyme disease or cancer biomarkers. There were always dinners or other events hosted by the various clinical departments during Lab Week. The events were a fun way for the entire organization to show their recognition for the role that clinical laboratory professionals play in patient care.

Can you tell us about the critical tasks completed by laboratory professionals at iSpecimen supply partner sites?

Jessica: The lab professionals at our supply sites keep track of all orders, ensuring that the right specimens get to the right researchers. Of course, they are aided by the iSpecimen software, but it is on them to make sure all of the specimens are picked, handled, and stored appropriately. They are the eyes and ears of quality control.

Michelle: Clinical lab professionals at our supply sites have vast medical knowledge as it pertains to the specimens they are handling. People don’t always recognize this. There are certain specimen requirements that need to be understood and met.

What are you personally trying to accomplish by for the first time, getting iSpecimen into the Lab Week spirit?

Jessica: As a healthcare technology company, iSpecimen has employees from a diverse mix of backgrounds. By taking time to celebrate Lab Week, we hope to bring awareness to our expertise as well as that of the laboratory staff at our partner sites.

Michelle: Our partner sites, from where we source all of the specimens we procure, are the foundation of iSpecimen’s success. Aside from celebrating Lab Week as a way to say thank you to our counterparts at these partner sites, we also want to show appreciation for medical lab professionals in general and raise recognition of the important role they play in the healthcare chain.

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