By - September 14, 2023
Paolo Miguel Ata, MBA, MLS(ASCPI)CM(AMT), is a Quality Coordinator for Laboratory Services at Community Medical Center in Toms River, New Jersey. Here he shares how he got into the laboratory profession, the duties of current and future leaders of the profession, and the legacy he hopes to leave.
I was introduced to the laboratory profession when I joined the U.S. Army. I wanted to be in the medical field, and I was given a list to choose from. The job that stood out was the occupational specialty of medical laboratory specialist. Choosing the laboratory profession became one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I appreciate the opportunity to learn from experienced medical laboratory scientists and technicians, laboratory associates, pathologists, and the clinical team. Laboratory medicine, I've learned, is a never-ending pursuit of quality and process improvement. It is our goal to ensure that the most accurate and precise results are released to the clinician for the best quality of care for our patients.What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the laboratory in healthcare today?
The lack of professional recognition is an obstacle that the laboratory has faced for decades, and it is among one of the reasons the laboratory encounters ongoing workforce shortages. It is one of the factors contributing to the decreased number of academic programs available, lack of qualified personnel, pay gap, and decreased public awareness. As current and future leaders in the field, we must strive to ensure our place in the clinical health system. It is our responsibility to have patience in educating and advocating the profession in avenues within our own organization. We don’t only draw patients, receive samples, run tests, screen slides, gross tissues, and the other multitude of responsibilities we perform within our laboratories; We are an integral part in ensuring that the children, parents, grandparents, and all individuals in our community get appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Ensuring the best quality of results is attained through recruitment and retention of highly qualified, program educated, properly trained, and experienced laboratory professionals. Advocacy for the recognition and advancement of the profession is an ongoing process and it starts with each one of us.
I hope that the individuals I’ve taught, I’ve worked with, and recommended into the profession advance through the ranks as innovators and leaders in laboratory medicine.
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