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Finding Comradery Between Laboratory Shifts

Every laboratory scientist is familiar with the overwhelming shroud of disappointment after walking into an impossibly busy lab.

The racks of endless samples leftover from the shift before and the overfilled biohazard bins make the lab look more like the aftermath of a high school party than a medical facility. You look at the instruments due for maintenance, then back at your coworkers and wonder what they did for the last ten hours. 

Despite having the shared goal of producing accurate patient results, contention builds between shifts. Everyone feels they work harder than the previous team, which breeds a toxic environment where staff feels overworked and underappreciated. The truth is, we probably are overworked and underappreciated, but it is not because of our coworkers. It is because we work in a lab. Before blaming the opposite shift for a heavy workload, consider that we all work tirelessly on limited resources. 

If everyone is working hard, why the tension, and how can we fix it? 

Anyone who has worked both days and nights knows each shift has unique challenges. The day crew may face constant interruptions from a ringing phone while those working nights struggle to troubleshoot instruments when technical support is unavailable before sunrise. Unfortunately, bad things do not have good timing, especially in the laboratory. It does not take long for a smoothly running shift to unravel. Sometimes, just one specimen can take hours of your time and delay the rest of your duties. Without adequate communication, the day shift only sees what the night shift left behind and not all the problems they solved.

Management has the crucial task of aiding in the creation of a cohesive and positive atmosphere among employees. Finding ways to support this objective is not an easy undertaking in the fast-paced, high-stress environment of a clinical lab. Therefore, supervisors should provide appropriate resources and fair division of workload while understanding that individual shift needs will probably differ. 

As the lab implements strategies to move towards workplace concordance, changes will not materialize without communication. Communication is critical to the health of a lab. Managers should speak with staff from all shifts to learn what they need to do their jobs, and employees should be able to connect between shifts easily. Tools that encourage transparency and communication are beneficial to inter-shift comradery. 

Common Purpose

Laboratory professionals all have a common purpose we can rally behind, delivering quality lab results. Our patients need us to collaborate peacefully for their benefit. This responsibility is not only on supervisors but also on bench workers and technicians. Every person who works in laboratory science should carry the weight of building a united team across all shifts by showing mutual appreciation and a positive attitude. A harmonious lab will pay off with better patient care, a more pleasant work environment, and improved productivity.

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