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Can we improve our image?

Can we improve our image?

I constantly hear laboratory practitioners bemoan their low status and lack of recognition. They complain that doctors, administrators, nurses, and others don't appreciate them or recognize their contributions. They suffer from "second class citizenitis' and blame it on the rest of the world.

Where does the fault really lie? I believe laboratorians must accept 90 per cent of the responsibility for their unrecognized and unappreciated position in the health care hierarchy. Attitudes, behavior, and appearance explain why:

Attitudes. Your professional image is influenced by your attitudes toward working, supporting your employer, and contributing to your profession. If you are a 9-to-5 individual who considers an employment obligation met through regular attendance and acceptable performance, you won't be fired, but you probably won't advance. Nor will you be admired: You are doing nothing unusual to warrant attention.

If you are in laboratory management and your first priority is defending the lab, hospital administration will not consider you a member of its management team. Your ability to influence and convince will be minimal. Too many laboratory managers put the good of the laboratory ahead of the patient and hospital, and often their employees reflect this attitude.

Finally, if you can't see the need for belonging to or becoming active in your professional organization, you may have to surrender responsibility to others in the profession. But you will probably be the first to complain about others doing things to you.

Behavior. By nature, laboratorians behave covertly. They do not take the necessary extra steps to let others learn about their abilities, knowledge, and contributions to patient care. Lab employees believe the world should understand what they do simply because they exist. They are naive and find it hard to extend themselves beyond the defined laboratory arena. When they do have to interact with other departments or professions, they may become defensive and act paranoid.

There are those, particularly managers, who believe they know all there is to know based on years of laboratory experience or an M.D. or other advanced degree. These misguided folk soon will find themselves replaced by management-minded individuals who can run a cost-effective, quality- and service-conscious laboratory.

Appearance. Closely related to attitude and behavior, appearance greatly influences a professional image. It has improved in our field during the last few years, but we still have a long way to go.

A recent hospital survey indicated that patients prefer a more formal appearance for doctors. Sixty-five per cent believed doctors on duty should wear white coats, 52 per cent did not want them wearing jeans, and 27 per cent did not like sneakers. More than one-third said male physicians should wear ties, and female physicians, skirts and dresses. Since patients tend to be older and conservative, their attitudes on apparel are not limited to physicians. They expect all health care professionals to dress properly.

We often hear that phlebotomists must reflect a professional image because they have so much patient contact. So must all laboratorians. Even if they work entirely at the bench, they move around the hospital at times, wearing name and department IDs.

When you attend a seminar or meeting, you are also representing your employer and profession. How the public judges your level of professionalism is directly related to how you dress and act. There is no excuse for jeans or other playtime clothes at professional meetings or at work.

If you want the recognition you think you deserve, accept responsibility for projecting a proper professional image. If you aren't willing to take those extra steps, don't blame others when they fail to see how important you are.
COPYRIGHT 1987 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:laboratory managers
Author:Barros, Annamarie
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:column
Date:Jun 1, 1987
Previous Article:Great confidence, great audience.
Next Article:CDC floats uniform proficiency testing plan.

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