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The search for hidden talents.

Many laboratorians feel frustrated about the limited number of career paths they see open to them in the clinical laboratory. Unlike the typical corporate business structure with its multi-tiered job opportunities, ours are compressed into a squashed pyramid consisting primarily of staff technologists, supervisors, and a laboratory manager. Is it any wonder that many workers at the base of the pyramid feel bored and disappointed with their lot?

Even if your staff has restricted access to a career ladder, the laboratory need not be a dead-end street for them. Look around your department and give some thought to what your employees can do. In many cases, you can offer mini-career advancements. Taking advantage of your staff's hidden talents in this way can provide diversion from their normal routines, help them put their skills to good use, and fill an important role in your overall operations.

Giving such jobs a name boosts the employee's morale and career. Let's look at a few possibilities:

[Paragraph] Point-of-Care Coordinator. One of the fastest-growing aspects of patient testing involves assays performed directly at the point of care--at the bedside, in the emergency room, and elsewhere. Laboratory room, and elsewhere. Laboratory personnel need to monitor this activity closely in order to assure compliance with regulatory guidelines related to quality control, proficiency testing, test processing, and instrument maintenance and troubleshooting.

[Paragraph] Decedent Affairs Manager. Too often, bereaved family members have no resource in the hospital when a loved one dies. They may be shuttled between nursing services, attending physicians, and social workers. Since pathologists and other laboratory personnel are already involved in autopsies, why not assign all postmortem activities to one of your more compassionate employees? Having an appointed contact person in the lab would provide a much-needed service. The experience would be rewarding for the technologist who has craved more direct contact with the hospital's clients.

[Paragraph] Technical Recruiter. The current shortage of qualified laboratory personnel makes it imperative for us to provide our human resources departments with all the help we can in recruiting good applicants. You might assign someone in your department to visit local schools and career fairs, introducing the profession in general and your laboratory in particular. Young candidates might relate most easily to recent graduates.

[Paragraph] Safety Observer. All lab professionals need to be vigilant regarding environmental health and safety in the workplace. Still, one individual could be given more responsibility and authority over this area. The employee might sit on a hospital safety committee, follow up and review safety-related incident reports, and coordinate inservice programs designed to reduce hazards in the workplace. This would be a good job for a more experienced employee. Preliminary training would be in order.

[Paragraph] Laboratory Liaison Officer. Lab managers and supervisors shouldn't be solely responsible for responding to problems involving the laboratory and other departments. One of your more communicative and diplomatic staff members might enjoy acting as liaison between your people and the nursing staff to resolve disputes over test result turnaround time, for example. Since most problems occur (and are solved) "in the trenches," this individual would bring more insight to such conflicts than someone at a higher level. Such a position would provide a staff member with the chance to demonstrate abilities outside the laboratory.

[Paragraph] CE Coordinator. In a rapidly changing, high-tech field such as ours, continuing education is a necessity. Unfortunately, our demanding work schedules often crowd it out. You can help insure that continuing education receives its proper place in your laboratory by delegating someone to schedule, monitor, and evaluate relevant activities.

* Expanding horizons. New assignments in the laboratory are waiting to be created and filled by the right people. A sociable, high-spirited employee might assume the role of Morale Officer to coordinate social activities, with the goal of maintaining a cohesive, enthusiastic work force. A highly creative and organized individual could become Aesthetic Leader, working on ways to improve the appearance of your department. The positions are limited only by your ingenuity and the personal qualities of your staff members.

Take inventory of your employees. Under their identical lab coats are unique individuals able and eager to share their talents. Both their personal growth and the laboratory at large will benefit.

James M. Maratea is administrator of clinical laboratories at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, Pa.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Viewpoint; boost employees' morale by giving them jobs that will utilize their other talents
Author:Maratea, James M.
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Date:Mar 1, 1992
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