I want to start by saying that this is not a bashing exercise. This is intended to stimulate discourse on what we can all do to foster a better awareness of each other’s roles within the modern health service. from the time we commence our training , it is embedded into us, the importance of communication and collaborative working. Yet somehow, there is still a major disconnect between the ward and the laboratories. I’m very fortunate as I have trained as a nurse and also trained as a Biomedical scientist, so I’ve come full circle. As a student nurse I had no idea the role that lab played in patient care, and did most activities because I was trained to do so with very little understanding of why – I’m not saying that’s the case for all, but it was certainly my experience. As a trainee BMS, I feel like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle were pieced together after years of looking for that one piece to complete it. I finally saw where pathology services fitted into the overall patient experience, and just how instrumental we are in the success of patient monitoring and treatment- which obviously dictates a prognosis.
Having spoken to many other healthcare professionals over the years, it is abundantly clear that, our role is still very misunderstood. Many still view us as technicians – but what good is technology without its scientific underpinning? Given the large social media presence we have advertising and promoting biomedical science, one would think it would be better. I think the pandemic has certainly shone a light on laboratory scientists and the role they play in diagnostics. I’ve always felt that for a successful dialogue to occur, we must start by beginning to understand the various roles and responsibilities in a healthcare organisation. Like cogs in a well oiled machine, we operate synchronistically to ensure the best possible outcome for our patients.
I recently had the opportunity to show some healthcare assistants around our laboratory so they could see first hand what we did with the samples they took. They were the first to acknowledge that they didn’t fully know what we did or how we operated. Taking them through this step by step process actually allowed us to iron out some minor issues we had with sampling and it gave them a much clearer understanding of how we worked together to ensure samples were processed and reported back to consultants and nursing staff. Following this, I’ve come to the conclusion that it should be mandatory for all healthcare staff to shadow a laboratory worker to gain a better understanding of how we ensure the sampling, analysis and reporting accurate and timely results takes place for the benefit of patients and their wellbeing.