Ally Storla, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS Georgia President-Elect
Debora Ardis, MT(AMT)
Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (MLPW) is an exciting time of the year. This year, MLPW will be held April 22 through 28. Every hospital is different and for some, MLPW is overlooked or under-celebrated but it doesn’t have to be! We’ve compiled a list of low-cost activities and fundraisers below to help you make the most of your hospital’s MLPW. Consider volunteering to help plan MLPW at your hospital; be the change you want to see!
Games and Activities
- Lab Week Run/Walk: Take Medical Laboratory Professionals week out of the lab and celebrate with a 5K Fun Run/Walk in conjunction with the ASCLS fundraiser Lab Week Run. Lab Week Run is a virtual run that can be completed anywhere, anyway, anytime during lab week. Last year participants hiked and kayaked in addition to running and walking. All funds raised help the Student and New Professional New Member Forums and all participants get an awesome, laboratory themed finisher medal! Visit www.labweekrun.com to learn more.
- Price is Right: In Price is Right style, pick a few common laboratory items such as gloves, coats, pipette tips, reagents, etc. and let employees guess the costs. The winner is the one who guesses closest without going over. This game also has a double benefit of helping laboratory personnel discover the costs associated with laboratory supplies and can help reduce waste. (Submitted by Lacey Campbell.)
- It Belongs to Me: Create a list of odd objects that employees own, or used to own, that would be considered unexpected. (Examples: crazy cat lady action figure, Venus fly trap plant, glow in the dark toilet paper, popcorn scented pillow, potty putter, dinosaur bone, 8-foot cardboard cut-out of a celebrity, ostrich egg, samurai sword, celebrity hair lock, paper doll collection, etc.) Find images of the objects online, print out the information and create a board, listing the objects randomly in one column and a list of lab personnel randomly in another column. Create a form for everyone to fill out and enter their guesses; put a submission box by the board and let everyone guess which object belongs to which person. The winner(s) will be those who guess the most correctly.
- Before I Worked in the Laboratory, I Worked…: Anybody that wants to participate writes out a job or career they had before working in the laboratory and others will try to guess who matches the job. You’ll need a board with two columns, one for the job name and another column for the laboratory personnel names. Put a box by the board with paper and pen and let everyone guess.
- Find the Critter – with or without Scavenger Hunt: This game is played by hiding little critters all over the lab which when found, can be exchanged for a prize. This can be done either by simply hiding handmade ‘critters’ around the laboratory, blood bank, phlebotomy office, and histology laboratory or by creating a scavenger hunt with clues as to where the critters have gone. For large laboratories, it can be helpful to create a list of clues about where each critter is hidden. Whoever finds the critter can exchange it for a prize. Our hospital had many staff members donate prizes (these are often trade show giveaways) and distribute prizes to the different areas’ managers for their employees when they found a critter. The best part of this game is when suddenly a nearby employee loudly proclaims “I found a critter!” We made critters with googly eyes, plastic foam, glitter pom-poms, and other assorted affordable craft supplies. In addition to creating 3D critters we had flat critters that could be hidden in procedure manuals and in more creative places. You can also create “Wanted” posters featuring photos of your critter creations lurking in the laboratory.
- Guess the Tech: Our laboratory has played this game a few different ways. In past years, we have based this game on a baby photo, a pet photo, or even a random up-close body part such as an eye, a nose, a hand, etc. and these have been very popular and fun ways to get to know coworkers. (Submitted by Ally Storla.)
- Daily/Weekly Contests: My lab often hosts guessing contests with candy in a jar, costume themes every day of the week (such as twins, celebrities, etc.), and a cake walk.
- World Map/USA Map: In the break room we set up a map of the United States and a World Map on our bulletin board and provide push pins and paper with instructions for laboratory personnel to post their name and birthplace on the map. Our lab did this for MLPW 2016 and we discovered that we work with laboratory personnel from all around the globe!
- Decorate: We decorated our laboratory break room with printed out laboratory memes from Lab Humor and the internet. Remember to keep the memes professionally appropriate (i.e. avoid disparaging other hospital professionals, no profanity, etc.).
Short on funds for MLPW? Here are some ideas to help boost your Lab Week budget: host a bake sale, plan a silent auction, or have a chili cook off competition and charge $5 a plate with first, second, and third place winners. Important: Be very careful to try to include off shifts (weekend only workers, evening shift, night shift) whenever planning Lab Week activities.
Educational Events and Lunch-and-Learns
- Reach out to your laboratory local sales representatives for companies your hospital is acquainted with. For example, if your Hematology department uses Sysmex, reach out to your Sysmex rep and schedule meals/education events. Be sure to remember the evening shift, night shift, and weekenders!
- Host events inside or outside of your lab to promote laboratory education to non-laboratory personnel. Offer prizes/snacks as incentives for participation. Example: Our laboratory manager created a board demonstrating the appropriate labeling of common laboratory specimens and gave everyone who watched her presentation a laboratory pen—this event was very educational, interprofessionally positive, and well received by hospital staff.
- Some laboratories bring MLPW to the floors with baked cookies/muffins to every nursing station.
- Invite non-laboratory personnel on a tour of the laboratory! Show them each station and give them a brief description of the work being done.
At the end of the day the best way to get the most out of your MLPW is to begin planning early. Be creative, be inclusive, and have fun!