Many of us are familiar with the game "Telephone," in which a player thinks of a phrase and whispers it to the person next to him or her. The message is relayed through the players, and the last player says out loud what he or she thinks the phrase is. More often than not, the message the last person in the chain hears and repeats to the group is completely different than the original version. In the Medical Laboratory Science program, we played our own version of Telephone, but with a laboratory twist.
During our Hematology I & II courses, we learned about automation systems in the laboratory and were privileged to have a Sysmex XN-1000TM Hematology Analyzer in our classroom. This is a highly automated instrument that takes a blood sample and measures a variety of factors in just a matter of minutes. These values are essential for clinicians when diagnosing patients because you can conclude a lot about an individual’s health by their blood.
In our Sysmex game of Telephone, our challenge was to teach each other how to properly run quality controls on five patient samples from start up to shut down, while simultaneously maintaining proper documentation and troubleshooting, if necessary.
Everyone’s turn involved three days: the first was to learn from another student, the second was to run the instrument independently, and the third to teach the next student. On my first day, I was more than a little nervous. As one of the last students in the class to go, I had been watching my classmates scurry around the lab gathering supplies, discussing troubleshooting mishaps, and performing the general Sysmex operations—all of which seemed complex.
However, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the process actually was. I didn’t even have to load each sample because the analyzer did it for me!
I was also impressed at how quickly the analyzer produced results on a sample. Overall, while the Sysmex Analyzer seemed difficult to use when I was observing others, once my turn to use the machine came, I found it relatively straightforward—and quite fun—to pick up.
This exercise made me appreciate how advanced the medical technology world is. I can imagine that machinery like this makes analyzing samples in a high-volume laboratory much more efficient. I also learned the importance of different sorts of communication in a laboratory because if one part of this procedure was misunderstood, the rest of the students in line to learn how to use the analyzer would have been doing it incorrectly. Finally, this exercise made me excited to continue to work with and learn about machines like the Sysmex Hematology Analyzer in my professional practice.