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WSLH Proficiency Testing

Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene

Telling Stories: Using Social Media for MLS Recruitment Outreach

Medical Laboratory Professionals are needed now more than ever. Studies, articles, podcasts, and panel discussions all point to the same primary challenge in the Medical Laboratory profession: clinical laboratories cannot find enough qualified professionals to fill positions. Although staffing shortages have long been a problem, the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded this issue. WSLH Proficiency Testing has also written about the topic of staffing shortages, interviewing instructors and sharing stories from professional associations about student recruitment strategies. These leaders discuss tackling a core problem in recruitment: increasing public awareness of the medical laboratory profession as a viable career choice. More and more, laboratory professionals are emphasizing the potential to build capacity for recruitment through everyone’s ability to leverage social media, at home or at work. As Medical Laboratory Professionals Week approaches in April, we are reminded that each and every one of us can make an impact by sharing our experiences online. 

Public awareness of the medical laboratory profession has increased significantly out of media coverage highlighting lab staffing shortages. Instructors and outreach coordinators emphasize the importance of leveraging this heightened awareness to show the public that the clinical laboratorian plays a vital role in delivering quality healthcare. But how? Through storytelling, says Nadine Fydryszewski, PhD, MS, MLS (ASCP), in a recent AACC article on the need to prepare early-career individuals for clinical laboratory leadership roles. Within this article, she more broadly discusses the importance of building public awareness about the profession as an excellent healthcare career choice.

“Public awareness has increased somewhat due to media covering the shortage of laboratorians, but we also need to tell the story of what we do and how the diagnostic services and patient data we have is critical to quality care,” Fydryszewski said. “Promoting this awareness can contribute to an increasing awareness of medical laboratory science as a career path for those with an interest in science and healthcare.”

Telling our stories as medical laboratory professionals means that we all have an important role to play in attracting students the field. More traditional methods of recruitment, such as career fairs and guest speaking events, are effective for one-on-one connections; but, these methods alone do not provide the broader reach of experience-sharing needed to help individuals come to a decision about their career pursuits. A now decade-old study conducted by Neilson, revealed that 92% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they know while 70% will trust an online recommendation from someone they don’t know. Clearly, the use of social media and other online platforms has grown exponentially. Although this study is specific to advertising, the rise in social media and, in turn, an individual’s presence online strengthens the claim resting at the forefront of this statistic: Sharing our experiences online no matter our age is critical for other individuals to gain the insight and trust needed to make any important decision, especially when financing is factored into those decisions.

Telling our stories on social media is one effective tool in our strategies to attract secondary and older grade school students to the field of Medical Laboratory Science. Marketing studies (and parents alike) illustrate that Gen Z wants deeper interaction with online content, and seeks personalized social media efforts. Professional associations in clinical laboratory science are using social media to let prospective students know what it means to be a clinical laboratorian, and the various career paths that are available. The fact that anyone’s post can influence someone’s career decisions makes social media a very powerful tool to be used with care. Why not be the positive influence in a student’s life by sharing your story? We never know who we are going to impact.

Every medical professional out there can play a part in recruiting students to the profession by sharing their story and resources about the field. This year, Medical Laboratory Professionals Week is April 24-30th, which provides a great opportunity to highlight the role of the clinical laboratorian as a key member of a healthcare team. Take some time to record a 1-2 minute video on your phone about why you do what you do and why it matters to you. Write 50-100 words, and find a picture to accompany your post. Share your story, in whichever form you choose, on your social media using the hashtag #Lab4Life. There are also promotional materials, such as videos and career recruitment toolkits you can share throughout the week on the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) webpage for Medical Laboratory Professionals Week. WSLH Proficiency Testing hopes that you celebrate and feel celebrated during Medical Laboratory Professionals Week this year. Thank you for all that you do to impact patient care.

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