Educating Patients in the Pandemic and Beyond
The lab has taken center stage in patient education – and it must stay there
E. Blair Holladay | | Opinion
Education has always been a critical aspect of pathology and laboratory medicine. Our learning about our profession may start when we enter school – perhaps even before – but, once it starts, it never truly ends. Even after we graduate, no matter where we are in our careers, we are continually learning. As new professionals, we learn how to do our jobs and do them well. As seasoned pathologists and medical laboratory scientists, we learn how to augment our skills to ensure we can provide high-quality patient care. As laboratory professionals on the brink of retirement or even beyond, we learn how to share knowledge with the next generation to sustain our workforce.
This past year, we have spent more time educating than ever before – at all levels of the profession. Not only have we educated ourselves, but also, critically, our patients. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the task of educating patients on the virus (and now the vaccine) has fallen on every member of the healthcare team – not least the lab. Pathologists and medical laboratory scientists are at the center of the testing and research bringing us out of the pandemic – which puts us in a unique position to lead public education around COVID-19 and makes it our duty to provide the knowledge our patients need to make informed decisions.
With the recent authorization of three COVID-19 vaccines, for example, the knowledge we hold as pathologists and medical laboratory scientists is more in demand than ever. The American Society for Clinical Pathology’s podcast, Inside the Lab, recently recorded an episode discussing vaccine safety (1). Our hosts were joined by two members of the laboratory team and one of our ASCP Patient Champions, each of whom brought a unique perspective to the discussion on why they opted for the vaccine, safety data from the medical community, and how to encourage vaccination among people – both patients and professionals – who are hesitant. I encourage you all to listen to this dynamic episode, which showcases the critical role the laboratory plays in patient education.
We’re turning a corner on COVID-19 but, just as we never stop educating ourselves after each corner turned in our career, we cannot stop educating others when we reach our post-pandemic “new normal.” Pathologists and medical laboratory scientists have stepped forward in this challenging time to support the health and education of our patients – and this is just the beginning. As the laboratory is central and ever-present in patient health, so too must it be in patient education.
Subscribe to The Pathologist Newsletters
- American Society for Clinical Pathology, “COVID-19 Vaccine Safety” (2021). Available at: https://bit.ly/3vEKPQX.