Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Look what they've done to my song Ma (Musings on invisible health professionals)

July's blog, another short one, was stimulated by an editorial in the Archives of Pathology; Laboratory Medicine, August 2019: Emerging From the Basement: The Visible Pathologist. (Further Reading)

The editorial reminded me that a hematopathologist I once worked with told me, "Pat, just like medical laboratory technologists/scientists (biomedical scientists in UK, Australia, NZ) feel invisible, at the bottom of the health professional pecking order, so do pathologists of all specialties."

Also on the local scene in Alberta, Canada, a new provincial government just cancelled a needed planned hub lab in Edmonton, with the new government implying they wanted to concentrate on patient care (as if clinical laboratories didn't affect patients) and the centralized superlab/ hub lab was a waste of money best spent elsewhere. The new Premier Jason Kenny argued the changes (new consolidated hub lab) would do nothing to improve patient services.

The blog's title derives by a 1970 song by Melanie Safka.

My take has always been that most folk don't have a clue what medical laboratory technologists/ biomedical scientists do. Suspect they assume we are merely the vampires/blood suckers who draw their blood samples for lab tests. Generally, folks do not realize we are highly educated and trained professionals who play an critical role in assisting physicians to diagnose and treat patients.


Fact is med lab science and clinical labs need to be more visible to the public. In this section I'm going to include tweets of colleagues and former students (my beloved 'kids') who are using Twitter to promote med lab science and make the case for why clinical labs merit respect as playing an as important in patient care.

Tweets and News

Folks you can see tweets without being on Twitter. If you are asked to join, just ignore the dialogue box asking you to join and click on the tweet off the dialogue box. All tweets are short, please read them.

1. Thanks to all who came out to the CSMLS open forum last night

2. AHS Newborn Metabolic Screening program

3. Cancelling superlab undermines foundation of patient care

4. Finally - someone took a look at what's going on

5.  Short-sighted decision to halt ongoing construction of the Edmonton Clinical Lab Hub

6. Yet another example of the importance of lab medicine

7. Pictured here are very passionate medical lab professionals seeking to educate Albertans of the critical role med lab plays in quality patient care 

8. Clinical labs save lives. We have no space & aging equipment. Cancellation of Northern AB Hub Lab leaves us wondering how will this crisis be addressed?

9. Thank you for helping champion the voice of the medical lab profession and its critical role in effective quality patient care.

I chose this song because I'm disappointed that medical lab technologists (biomedical scientists) still have to fight to be visible to the public, including some politicians, after all these years. I came to the med lab science field by a non-traditional route 55years ago and still we face the same challenges.
Look what they've done to my song, Ma
Look what they've done to my song
Well, it's the only thing I could do half right
And it's turning out all wrong, Ma
Look what they've done to my song

Harrold IM, Bean SM, Williams NC. Emerging from the basement: the visible pathologist. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2019 Aug;143(8):917-8.

Health Quality Council of Alberta: Provincial Plan for Laboratory Services in Alberta (February 2017)

Leaning into the challenge of medical science (4 June 2019)

The UCP government scrapped Edmonton's 'superlab'. Medical experts say Alberta needs an alternative and fast (24 July 2019)

Medical lab group pushing Alberta government to address gaps after cancelling superlab (24 July 2019)

Alberta government keeps promise to cancel construction of medical superlab (20 June 2019)

Lab Tests Online: For anyone interested in what medical lab professionals do and information on your lab tests results