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Outside the Lab Training and education, Profession

The Diversity Drive

The pursuit of a more diverse workforce in medical laboratories is not only a matter of social responsibility, but also imperative to foster innovation and excellence – solidifying the laboratory’s place as the foundation of high-quality care. Pathologists and medical laboratory scientists play pivotal roles in shaping the culture inside the laboratory, and it is through our actions that we show how powerful the laboratory can be when we embody diverse and inclusive perspectives.

Building a more diverse laboratory workforce starts with strategic recruitment practices. By consistently reaching out to educational institutions that have a track record of cultivating diverse talent or establishing partnerships with universities and colleges serving underrepresented communities, we can create pipelines for diverse candidates.

Mentorship is also instrumental in nurturing talent from underrepresented groups. Pathologists and medical laboratory scientists can serve as mentors to guide individuals through their career development, providing insights, advice, and networking opportunities. 

Promoting diversity and inclusion also requires a commitment to cultural competence within the laboratory. Implementing training programs that enhance the understanding of diverse cultural practices, languages, and patient perspectives is imperative to fostering an equitable and inclusive workplace. To prioritize high-quality patient care, pathologists and laboratory professionals must be equipped to navigate the complexities of working with individuals from varied backgrounds.

Beyond the laboratory’s walls

It’s not only inside the laboratory, but also outside of the laboratory where we must do our part to break down barriers to healthy equity. Over the past year, ASCP has focused on the strategic pillar of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) – and made the laboratory a leader in DEI initiatives. This has included leveraging our Career Ambassadors and partnering with The Lab Drawer to bring interactive and hands-on hematology and microbiology experiments to middle and high school students, building awareness of the profession. ASCP has also partnered with the National Kidney Foundation and the wider medical community to endorse eGFR calculations for diagnosing and treating chronic kidney disease (CKD) that do not depend on race adjustment factors. Our collaboration with AABB and blood banking and transfusion experts has led to the growth of our national registry and data exchange for red blood cell alloantibodies – enhancing care for individuals with conditions such as sickle cell disease. 

Creating a more diverse laboratory workforce requires intentional and sustained efforts from every member of the laboratory. As leaders in healthcare, we can shape our culture inside and outside of the laboratory, and in doing so, contribute to the health and wellbeing of our laboratory teams and patients. As medical science advances through the inclusion of varied perspectives and talents, we showcase the power of celebrating diversity. 

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About the Author
E. Blair Holladay

CEO of the American Society for Clinical Pathology

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