FORT DRUM, N.Y. (April 25, 2013) -- National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week is a time of recognition for more than 300,000 medical laboratory professionals and 15,000 board-certified pathologists who interpret more than 10 billion lab tests in the U.S. every year and play a vital role in every aspect of health care.
Lab Week is held annually during the last full week of April. This year's observance will take place April 21-27. The theme is "One Lab One Team Making a Difference."
The week celebrates laboratory medicine and recognizes the professionalism of lab personnel and their efforts. Since the development of this field in the 1920s, the laboratory science professional has played a progressively more critical role in the diagnosis and prevention of disease.
Since laboratory professionals often work behind the scenes, few people know much about the vital testing they perform every day. NMLPW is a time to inform and educate medical colleagues and the public about the medical laboratory.
Lab-related jobs include medical lab technician, medical technologist, cytotechnologist, pathologist, phlebotomist and histotechnician.
At USA MEDDAC, Fort Drum, the laboratory staff provides the following services and support: clinical laboratory science, which deals with the performance of laboratory analyses used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and in the maintenance of health; reception (phlebotomy area); chemistry; hematology; microbiology; blood bank and a shipping department.
Twenty civilian employees and two Soldiers comprise the MEDDAC Laboratory staff. Laboratory technicians rotate between Guthrie and Conner Troop Medical Clinics each Monday through Friday.
The goal of the Laboratory Service Section is to ensure Soldier medical readiness and to facilitate total beneficiary health care through a customer-focused commitment to quality care.
"We provide laboratory services that set the standard for medical readiness, integrated health care, and service member and family support," said MEDDAC Laboratory Chief Tina M. Allen. "We treat our customers and ourselves with dignity and respect, courtesy and compassion, honor and integrity, and (we) are committed to those we serve."
The expanding lab field has opened many doors for trained laboratory professionals.
According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology, a shortage of laboratory professionals is anticipated in the decade ahead. Many now working in the field are approaching retirement, and there are not enough new graduates entering the profession to adequately meet the needs of our nation's health care system.
In addition, the demand for laboratory testing is on the rise for a number of reasons.
As Americans continue to age, more testing is required more frequently. Almost 13 percent of the U.S. population is now older than 65. The over-85 category, which requires the greatest amount of health care services, is growing rapidly.
Demand for medical laboratory testing is increasing due to increases in the world population; stronger emphasis on preventive medicine, including early detection and patient responsibility; and an explosion of new medical technologies, such as genetic testing.
Expanding medical knowledge and technological developments have increased the need for medical laboratory testing.
New and different pathogens are contributing to increased needs for laboratory testing. The identification of new diseases, like AIDS, Lyme disease and hepatitis C – and the resurgence of old foes like tuberculosis – pose serious threats to the public health.
Unprecedented increases in international travel (including Soldier deployments) and immigration are resulting in the importation of rare or previously unknown diseases, especially parasitic infections and inherited disorders, which increases the need for laboratory testing.
More than 10 billion laboratory tests are performed in the United States each year.
Laboratory tests results constitute an estimated 70 percent of the patient's medical records and are vital to the diagnosis and treatment of illness and disease.
To learn about career preparation, educational requirements, scholarships, salaries and job opportunities for a career in laboratory medicine, go to www.ascp.org.