Understanding the personal and professional identity of clinical laboratory practitioners through narrative
Butina, Michelle Leigh
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand how clinical laboratory practitioners view themselves, their profession, and their professional identity, as represented through their narratives (experiences shared as stories). Thirty-four demographic questionnaires were completed and returned from clinical laboratory practitioners in three hospital laboratories. From these 34 demographic questionnaires a maximum variation strategy was used to select nine clinical laboratory practitioners that were certified, with more than one year of experience, had minimal supervisory duties, and were employed full-time. Data collection utilized the general interview guide approach in which participants were individually interviewed on two occasions at their workplace setting. Evaluation of data used narrative thematic analysis that consisted of a systematic approach of searching for patterns and themes within collected narratives. The findings provided a better understanding of the professional identity of clinical laboratory practitioners. Six overarching themes emerged from the data including: (a) perceived changes within the profession, (b) entry pathways into clinical laboratory profession, (c) lack of awareness on the part of healthcare professionals and the public, (d) being misunderstood by fellow healthcare professionals, (e) retention issues, and (f) perceived role and value of clinical laboratory practitioners. The components of professional identity of clinical laboratory practitioners that emerged from the data indicate that the profession is vital, misunderstood, and generally unknown. With these data, I now believe that the workplace shortage is exacerbated by a professional identity that is misunderstood and unknown. From this study, strategies were developed that could be used to increase recruitment into the clinical laboratory science profession and retention of those in the profession, thereby alleviating the workplace shortage.