The Importance of Giving
When we give of ourselves, we and our professional community grow stronger
Burnout is a well-known pitfall within our profession. We work nights, weekends, and holidays; we’re on call for emergencies; we cover extra shifts for sick colleagues. We’re integral to the overall healthcare system, but often receive little public recognition. In some professions, that’s a recipe for disillusionment and apathy. But in pathology and laboratory medicine, our personal wellbeing is an integral component of providing optimal patient care, so how can we combat burnout?
Perhaps paradoxically, the answer is actually quite simple – by giving. You may say, “I give so much of myself already! How can giving more help keep me from experiencing burnout?” Here’s a case in point: if, as the Dalai Lama suggests, the purpose of our lives is to be happy, and that happiness comes from our own actions, then we are responsible for our own happiness. If we overlay the Dalai Lama’s words onto a mission statement for ourselves and our profession, it would be: when we give of ourselves, then “we” – the team – become stronger.
What might investing in our profession look like?
- Dedicating yourself to education; for example, continuing education for yourself or passing your knowledge on to your colleagues, residents, and medical laboratory science students. You can write chapters or even textbooks in your area of expertise. You can author journal papers, magazine articles, and contribute to medical laboratory blogs to increase awareness and knowledge of the field.
- Becoming a mentor. It might be as simple as introducing yourself to a new colleague and offering to have coffee once a month to discuss career goals and concerns. It can be as involved as partnering with a professional society or medical school to create a mentoring program for new professionals. Or perhaps you’d feel more comfortable joining a mentoring program that already exists. Mentoring benefits both parties; the mentee gains professional advice, while the mentor is reminded why they chose this profession.
- Volunteering. Whether it’s planning Lab Week activities for your colleagues or applying for opportunities within your professional society (you can find ways to become involved with ASCP at tp.txp.to/ASCP/volunteer), volunteering is a great way to meet people and generate enthusiasm for the profession.
- Financial giving. You don’t have to donate a million dollars to have an impact. Whether it’s donating textbooks and reference books to your laboratory, sponsoring a journal subscription for the library, or giving money to organizations such as the ASCP Foundation (tp.txp.to/ASCP/foundation), every little bit pays it forward.
By giving our time, resources, and money, we help those in need while also helping our profession soar. At the same time, we fight burnout within ourselves and our community, which makes for a better workplace, ensures a solvent culture, and generously invests in the future of our profession. It’s yet another way we’re stronger together.
CEO of the American Society for Clinical Pathology