All in a Day’s Work

This week is National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week and APHL is honoring the many individuals working public health and environmental laboratories around the world.  Stay tuned for blog posts this week featuring the work of many of those unsung heroes working to protect the public’s health.

By Chris N. Mangal, MPH, Director, Public Health Preparedness and Response, APHL

For a few days I pondered what to say in this blog post that would help folks to have a better appreciation of laboratorians… Why should people care about laboratorians? After all, they only get results.

Yes, that’s it! Laboratorians get results which play a key role in medical treatments and overall population health.

Public Health Laboratory, Richmond, VA

Think about it – when you feel sick, you go to your doctor’s office or your local hospital depending on the intensity of the symptoms.  The physicians do their best to temporarily treat your symptoms and they quickly get some samples from you. Off they go… ever wondered where your samples went? Probably to the in-house hospital laboratory or a local commercial laboratory.  These laboratories then work closely with public health laboratories so they can quickly identify what’s making you sick. Is it a chemical? Other toxic compounds? A super bug which is resistant to antibiotics? In certain instances, other public health officials get involved to monitor the extent of the illness in a population. Just think, all of this started with a laboratory result!

Much of this work is happening behind the scenes to get you the correct and best medical treatment and to reduce the spread of diseases in a population.

Laboratorians aren’t the best at tooting their own horn so organizations like APHL must play a role in promoting their valuable work. On a daily basis, APHL staff work side-by-side with laboratorians to protect global health.

Laboratorians from across the globe ensure that your water is safe to drink, your food is safe to eat, your sunscreen actually works and provides appropriate protection from the sun (more about this at a later date) and they’re also there when you get ill to quickly detect the culprit and inform your treatment. So, the next time someone takes a sample from you, remember the thousands of highly qualified laboratorians who are quietly working behind the scenes doing their routine – all in a day’s work – to keep you safe and healthy!

Thank you to all of the exceptional people who work in or on behalf of laboratories.



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