Medical Airmen strive to be effective communicators

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rito Smith
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Communication skills and attention to detail help lab technicians assigned to the 6th Medical Support Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, keep our service members healthy and our aircrew ready to fly.

“We support two wings, two combatant commands, and 51 coalition partners. That’s around 215K in patient population,” said Senior Airman Tristian Riley, a medical laboratory technician assigned to the 6th MDSS. “The job that we do is important because the results from the tests are used as a basis for roughly 70 percent of the diagnoses made by providers that allow proper and quick treatment.

“In turn, that allows the Air Force and our mission partners to maintain their overall health allowing them to continue the mission.”

Communication between patients and technicians is vital to effectively caring for and treating each patient.

“For our career field, communication is how we get everything done between Airmen and patients or within the office,” said Master Sgt. Terrence Raybon, 6th MDSS clinical lab flight chief.

These Airmen are responsible for collecting and analyzing specimens to help medical doctors assess patient health and determine appropriate methods of treatment.

“We do that by collecting patient specimens, maintaining viability of the specimens, ensuring the results are obtained and then reporting those results to the right personnel in a timely manner,” said Riley. “We do all of that while maintaining patient privacy throughout the process in the lab.”

The process starts at the front desk where Airmen work to ensure patient’s orders are correct. After they verify the orders, they move to the phlebotomy room where technicians draw the correct tube for the tests ordered. Once the sample has been properly collected it is taken to the appropriate section in the back of the lab.

“We have four different sections in the back: microbiology, chemistry, hematology and urinalysis,” said Riley. “Each section is responsible for running different tests and certifying the results before they are sent out.”

On most days there are six total Airmen working the front desk and the phlebotomy room.

“For us, being able to communicate and pay attention to even the smallest details is extremely important,” said Riley. “Verbal and hand-written communication is key in the lab between our sections as well as with the patients to allow everyone to be on the same page and understand why it needs to be done.”

From the front desk to the phlebotomy room these Airmen showcase their customer service skills and professionalism with every patient.

“The professionalism these Airmen show while working not only represents them but it represents the whole lab,” said Riley. “Being professional while interacting with patients is not only polite, but helps to improve the experience of the patients overall care.”