A Season of Change
Has the veil lifted on pathology’s place as the foundation of medicine?
Michael Schubert | | Opinion
“A season of change” – not spring this year, but summer (or winter for our southern friends). As early buds give way to full leaf, vaccination rates creep up, and academic years draw to a close, each day is different to the last.
For some, July’s approach heralds the start of residency programs – new training and new opportunities. (And, if you’re like me, a stack of exciting, fresh notebooks you don’t want to start writing in because they’re “too nice.”) For others, it signals the departure of students and a few quiet months of research or clinic work before they return. And, for a lucky few, perhaps there will even be some remote signing out – from the beach!
But not all change is good – as exemplified by the recent course of the pandemic. With new variants arising, increases in transmissibility, and early signs of vaccine escape, it’s not yet time to let our guard down. For most, the laboratory is that guard. We rely on laboratory medicine professionals to tell us where SARS-CoV-2 is, how it is evolving, and what it may do next. We rely on the lab to reassure us when we aren’t infected and to sound the alarm when we are. We rely on the lab to let us know how well our defenses are working and what we can do to shore them up.
It has been said many times that COVID-19 has put the spotlight firmly on the lab. But what people may fail to realize is just how much of the world’s pandemic response is underpinned by a quiet army of laboratory medicine professionals. From drug repurposing to vaccine development, rapid test design to genome mapping… without the lab (and the individuals skilled enough to make the most of it), there would be no fighting back.
When this truth is recognized – by other medical professionals, by administrators, by the public – it will herald a “season of change” for the perception of the laboratory. The stereotypes are outdated. The negativity is misplaced. Pathology is the root of all medicine – and it deserves to be recognized as such.