Tywauna Wilson, MBA, MLS (ASCP)
The medical laboratory science profession has been around for hundreds of years, yet it still remains a hidden gem in the scope of health care. Why is it that people still don't know what we do or know that the profession of medical laboratory science exists? The valuable work that we perform as part of the health care team influences 70 percent of all medical decisions. This alone should be enough to give exposure to our team. Unfortunately, the lab still remains a medical mystery. We are often called mislabeled, and students are unaware that this career field is an option when selecting a program major in college. With the challenges that continue to plague our profession with lab shortages and medical laboratory science program closures, we have to be innovative in our strategies for advocating for our profession and bringing widespread exposure to what it is like to walk a day in our shoes.
In a time of busyness and distractions, traditional methods of marketing and advocacy for the profession are yielding limited results. Leveraging the media through podcasting/internet radio, video, and social media are the ways of the future. They are great ways to stand out, get seen, and increase our profession’s reach.
The value of podcasts for the lab community
Podcasting is one of the fastest-growing media activities available with instant reach. Recent studies show that 329 million Americans are familiar with podcasting and 51 percent of the US population has listened to a podcast. People are looking to podcasts for education and entertainment. Imagine the exposure the laboratory could have if there were more laboratory-affiliated podcasts on the air? The beauty of podcasting is that the show can be structured any way you choose, the frequency is up to you, and the cost of entry is free or low cost on several of the major podcast platforms. The target demographic of incoming laboratory professionals is listening to podcasts on their way to work, at the gym, and at home. Sixty-seven percent of podcast listeners are between the ages of 18 and 44 years old. These are people who are early in their careers or looking for professional development to continue to grow in their careers.
Five benefits of using podcasting to advocate for the medical laboratory community:
- It pulls back the curtain on what we do as a profession. It gives our audience a sneak peak of how our work contributes to the health care team and is instrumental in their day-to-day lives.
- It gives exposure to lab professionals. Lab professionals can be highlighted and recognized for their contributions to lab medicine and the community as a whole. When people hear about the success of our members, they also begin to learn more about the profession.
- It offers increased opportunity to advertise and promote job opportunities and career paths in laboratory medicine.
- It allows us to virtually connect with our target audience worldwide in a simplified, yet impactful way.
- The cost of entry to starting a podcast is low to no cost, yet yields a high return.
Ready to launch?
Getting started is easy! You just have to pick a platform, topic, structure, and frequency for your show. Podcasts are traditionally done via audio, but you can also do video podcasts as well using YouTube and other social media channels. A few of the popular podcast platforms include Anchor, Podbean, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify. Some of these platforms are free to host your show and others have costs associated with them. Do your research to find which route will work best for you. The key is just getting started and being consistent. The longer you do it, the more your audience and reach will grow, and eventually your messaging will be heard by people all around the world. Your audience will come to love your show and will tell others about it.
I started a leadership podcast in 2019 with the aim of bringing exposure to leaders in various career fields where they offer practical tips that can be used in both your personal and professional life. While it is not lab-specific, in every episode, I let the listeners know I am a medical laboratory scientist and I bring on lab leaders as guests who talk about the lab profession and their lab journey. It sparks the interest of professionals who may not have been previously interested in the laboratory.
The opportunity to grow the laboratory community will rely on the value brought on by the profession as a whole as well as individuals. We are the lab! It starts with each of us having a presence, sharing our stories, and being innovative when advocating for the field.
Data sources of podcasting statistics:
- Edison Research (bit.ly/edison-infinite-dial)
- Music Oomph (https://musicoomph.com/podcast-statistics/)
- Nielsen (bit.ly/nielsen-podcasting)
- IAB (bit.ly/iab-podcasting)
- PwC (bit.ly/pwc-podcasting)
- Pacific Content (bit.ly/pacific-content)
Originally posted by the Clinical Laboratory Management Association