Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (MLPW) is currently underway (April 20-26, 2014). MLPW provides the profession with a unique opportunity to increase public understanding of and appreciation for clinical laboratory personnel. Read about fun ideas to celebrate.MLPW, which takes place the last full week in April each year, is coordinated by a collaborative committee with representatives from 14 national clinical laboratory organizations, including the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS). Now it it’s 38th year, it is important to reflect on the important history of MLPW.
Medical Laboratory Professionals Week originated in 1975 as National Medical Laboratory Week, or NMLW, under the auspices of the American Society for Medical Technology, now called the ASCLS. In subsequent years, other organizations have served as cosponsors and campaign supporters.
Focus on the Person
In the fall of 2005, NMLW was changed to National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (NMLPW) to emphasize the person whose expertise is needed in the performance of laboratory testing. Beginning in 2010 the organizers decided to “brand” the event by using the same theme each year: Laboratory Professionals Get Results. In the summer of 2012 organizers deleted “National” from the title for brevity, and it became Medical Laboratory Professionals Week.
There are approximately 300,000 practitioners of clinical laboratory science in the U.S. Since the development of this career group in the 1920s, the clinical laboratory science professional has played an increasingly vital role in the diagnosis and prevention of disease. Today, the clinical laboratorian is a key member of a health care team.
As team members of one of the largest industries in the U.S., the dedicated efforts of laboratory professionals often go unnoticed by the general public, as well as by the very institutions employing their services. With the public now demanding the assurance of quality health care and professional accountability, organizations representing practitioners of this critical science have a responsibility to ensure that the public is well informed about clinical laboratory competency.
Increase Awareness of the Profession
Beyond meeting this public need, the celebration of MLPW will help increase recognition for the profession as it improves the individual practitioner’s sense of self-worth. Further, as the various professional groups within laboratory practice work together on this project, the sense of unity and purpose necessary to further the goals of all laboratorians are reinforced.
Many members plan displays, open houses and various other activities in their institutions or local areas. Some have obtained proclamations by mayors or governors while others have been featured on local TV and radio stations. National MLPW has been successful in increasing the recognition of clinical laboratory science among the healthcare community and general public.