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Across the Pacific, the same lab concerns.

Across the Pacific, the same lab concerns Although there are differences in medical technology between East and West, the twain very often do meet. I can attest to that, having just returned from a Japanese-American medical technology seminar sponsored by Professional Seminar Consultants, Oceanside, N.Y.

We visited laboratories and exchanged views in joint lectures with laboratory colleagues in Tokyo, Bangkok, and Hong Kong. Our group consisted of 35 U.S. health care professionals: 29 clinical laboratory technologists, a pathologist, a pathology medical secretary, a hospital administrator, a family practice physician, a nurse educator, and an x-ray technologist.

As education leader of the tour, I found our Asian colleagues intrigued by the seminar's management-oriented lectures. Since the major focus was on time management, we were able to discuss many management functions, including behavioral patterns, time wasters, communication, motivation, delegation, problem solving, and decision making. Our hosts appreciated hearing how a number of their concerns and problems are handled in U.S. labs. The copies of MLO articles that I brought with me were also most welcome.

Visits to hospitals in each city highlighted our trip. At the Tokyo Metropolitan Komagome Hospital, chief technologist Koei Mitobe and laboratory director Dr. Keiji Mizuoka conducted an indepth tour of the laboratories and gave us a full briefing on lab operations and the Japanese health care system. The lab staff at Metropolitan Komagome Hospital--as at most Japanese hospitals--is on a 9 to 5 schedule, Monday through Friday. At all other times, residents and attending physicians operate a small Stat lab, performing lab tests for their patients. The lab staff told us, however, that late and weekend shifts would probably be instituted because present scheduling is not totally satisfactory for patient care.

Not all laboratories in Japan have pathologists, and there are no independent labs as we know them. But instruments and testing methods are very similar to what we have in the U.S.

All Japanese technologists seem to be enrolled in their organization, the Japanese Association of Medical Technologists. At the Tokyo lecture session, Shohei Kanayama, president of the association, described medical technology training in Japan as academically similar to the U.S. system but without formal hospital-based education.

We were also treated to a preview of plans for the 1988 International Association of Medical Laboratory Technologists Congress in Kobe, and charged with making sure our U.S. colleagues learn all about it.

After Tokyo's somewhat cool weather, we looked forward to the tropical climate of Bangkok, and we were not disappointed. There was warmth, too, in the welcome we received. Notices all over Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, announced our visit and my lecture. Our host, Lersuang Chavenich, president of the Association of the Medical Technologists of Thailand and member of the clinical microbiology department and faculty, greeted us and introduced the first speaker, Dr. Prasert Thongcharoen, dean of the faculty of medical technology.

From Dr. Thongcharoen's overview of the health care system in Thailand, we concluded that the government's setup is similar to the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies in the U.S. bureaucracy. A second speaker, Dr. Pimpan Liengpibul, described Thai lab and x-ray training programs. Their CLA, MLT, and MT categories and academic system are like ours but, as in Japan, formal hospital programs are not stressed.

Laboratories in Bangkok were not as extensively equipped as the ones we saw in Tokyo, because funding is hard to come by. These labs can make good use of outdated U.S. equipment, so if you can spare something, please send me the details care of MLO.

What the Thais do have is inexhaustible interest, enthusiasm, and a commitment to developing their own instruments and diagnostic kits. Several projects spearheaded by university chemist Dr. Watcharee Hirinyavisit will soon be test marketed.

The seminar's management lecture was highly appreciated by the 40 or more Thai laboratorians in attendance and by U.S.-trained Lersuang Chavenich, who teaches management in Mahidol University's medical technology program. The Thai people are very friendly and enthusiastic, and our visit was motivating as well as memorable.

Our last stop was Queen Mary Hospital at the University of Hong Kong, a large teaching institution with more than 1,100 beds and adding 600 more. Set high above the harbor, Queen Mary Hospital serves a large region. Laboratory services are provided by different departments in the university, but the blood bank--compatibility testing and transfusion service--is government-run. Our tour of the chemistry, hematology, and microbiology labs was conducted by F.T. Lee, senior laboratory superintendent, and other senior staff members.

Hong Kong's health care system and laboratory services reflect the British influence, and medical technology education is similar to that in the United Kingdom, according to Dr. George T.C. Chan, senior clinical pathologist, hematology unit. Laboratorians follow either a two- or four-year program. There are few pathologists, so technologists direct many of the hospital labs and own and direct most of the independent labs. Medical technologists in Hong Kong prefer to work in government-operated hospitals because salaries and benefits are better than at partially government-subsidized and nonprofit hospitals. Methods and instruments are state of the art, and labs are staffed 24 hours, seven days a week.

At the management session, we met J.C. Wang, chairman of the Hong Kong Medical Technology Association, along with 25 of the group's members. We all agreed that management problems are the same, whether they come up in Hong Kong or the U.S.

Common to the three countries on the tour were some technical differences from U.S. procedure (e.g., evacuated tubes are not used for phlebotomy because very few specimens are drawn by lab staff), an upward mobility track that allows two-year technicians to reach the four-year level, and strong support for professional organizations.

Finally, laboratorians in the Far East show great pride in what they do even though they also have to work hard to affirm their status as equal members of the health care team. But that's very much like home.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:medical technology
Author:Barros, Annamarie
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:column
Date:Jun 1, 1986
Words:1005
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