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Outside the Lab Profession

Local News; Global Views

May 2020 has been a divisive month for the world. Some states and countries are lifting lockdown restrictions; others are doubling down. Some people have access to free testing and effective contact tracing; others feel underinformed, unsafe, or have concerns about privacy and security. Whereas many administrations have laid out clear plans, others are still subject to uncertainty, criticism, or a lack of clarity in their messaging.

Amidst the whirlwind of change, I can’t help but recall a message from epidemiologist Keren Landsman in last month’s feature article: “Because future pandemics are an absolute certainty, I hope that we learn to work together as a global community.” Landsman calls for a coordination of health efforts worldwide – “a truly global health system.” Is such a thing possible?

At the moment, perhaps not. Our approaches to healthcare management are too fractured to unify easily, especially under the added pressure of a pandemic and the delayed workload waiting for us at its end. But despite the differences in logistics, one aspect is shared across the world’s healthcare systems: practitioners’ dedication to their patients.

On social media, I see pathologists and laboratory medicine professionals pulling together – sharing knowledge, consulting on cases, drawing from their own experiences to offer advice. In my interviews and inbox, I see a collection of people eager to help in any way they can, whether by freely providing their expertise to the public or sending surplus reagents to laboratories in need. In the news, I see doctors stepping outside the bounds of their specialties to offer support on the wards treating COVID-19 patients while scientists repurpose their work to help with everything from virus proteomics to vaccine development.

It’s true that we face obstacles in converting the healthcare systems of 195 countries into a single, functioning entity – but we shouldn’t let that blind us to the ways in which we already cooperate around the world.

Our health systems may not (yet) be global – but, increasingly, our patient care is.

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About the Author
Michael Schubert

While obtaining degrees in biology from the University of Alberta and biochemistry from Penn State College of Medicine, I worked as a freelance science and medical writer. I was able to hone my skills in research, presentation and scientific writing by assembling grants and journal articles, speaking at international conferences, and consulting on topics ranging from medical education to comic book science. As much as I’ve enjoyed designing new bacteria and plausible superheroes, though, I’m more pleased than ever to be at Texere, using my writing and editing skills to create great content for a professional audience.

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