Members of Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., celebrated Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, also known as Lab Week, April 21 through 27, 2019. Lab Week is an annual observance to spread awareness and show appreciation to medical laboratory professionals and pathologists for the work they do to assist patients. This year’s Lab Week theme for the 30th Medical Support Squadron Laboratory was “Launching Rockets, One Test at a Time.”
“Biological tests are an essential part in determining the diagnosis and treatment of disease,” said Senior Airman Carlos Barrera, 30th Medical Support Squadron laboratory technician. “It is estimated that 70% of all medical decisions depend on laboratory services, such as medication, admittance, discharge, drug monitoring, diagnosis of infectious diseases and genetic disorders. An accurate diagnosis is the first step to getting effective treatment.”
Members often begin their interaction at the 30th MDSS Laboratory during check-in, where technicians ensure the patient information is correct, the right tests have been ordered and clarify if the patient has fasted or abstained from interfering medications or food before samples are collected.
Most often, after the patient had provided their sample, they leave the Lab never really knowing what happens next or who has their potential diagnosis in their hands.
“The staff member’s working [the front desk and specimen collection] are charged with an important role of being the ‘face’ of the laboratory, but beyond the drawing room, our patients do not know what we really do,” Barrera said. “When we tell people we are lab techs, we are often countered with the question, ‘So you draw blood?’ but there is much more that goes on behind the scenes.”
While, from the outside looking in, the job of a laboratory technician may seem as simple as drawing blood; their job is extremely important. They also perform critical testing in chemistry, hematology, and urinalysis, aiding in various diagnoses such as urinary tract infections, high cholesterol, diabetes, and more serious diseases like cancer. Their contributions directly coincide to the 30th Space Wing’s Individual Medical Readiness, flight physicals, and occupational health readiness.
To better reach the overall priority of medical readiness and care for the 14,000 enrolled beneficiaries, the 30th MDSS Laboratory is expanding their testing capabilities and support through multiple military and civilian reference laboratories. They also utilize the Get Yourself Tested initiative, which allows patients to be screened for sexually transmitted infections on a walk-in basis without having to make an appointment with their provider.
“Our goal is to improve patient outcomes by continuously improving our processes and finding innovative ways to deliver quality care,” said Master Sgt. Kristen Hill, 30th MDSS Diagnostic Flight chief. “The faster our turn-around time for results, the faster the men and women of Team V get back to accomplishing the mission… Launching Rockets.”