Canada’s lab professionals get an assist from Hayley Wickenheiser

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science has partnered with Canadian Olympic hockey star (and doctor) Hayley Wickenheiser on an update to the indigo lab coat it introduced in 2020.

While the first iteration of the coat featured the names of the 1.2 million lab tests carried out each day by the CSMLS’s approximately 14,000 lab technicians in microscopic type, the new “Coat of Honour” features a 572-word ode to lab professionals by Wickenheiser that draws parallels between hockey heroes and the vital role they play in the country’s healthcare.

“In my two professional careers, I’ve learned that whether you’re on the ice or in the hospital, nothing gets done without teamwork,” says Wickenheiser in an 80-second video accompanying the launch of the Coat of Honour developed by CSMLS’s agency partner, Arrivals + Departures.

Wickenheiser explains that Olympians are largely invisible to Canadians except for the two weeks of the Games, and that Canada’s lab professionals were similarly overlooked prior to the pandemic. She compares them to a goalie that “stands on his or her head” or a defender that blocks a shot during a critical moment.

“You never know how much you need them until you need them, and we have really needed them,” she says. “They’ve been the unsung heroes of this pandemic.”

Michael Grant, director of marketing and communications with the CSMLS, says the organization knew from the outset that it wanted to make the indigo lab coat a multi-year effort, making the public aware that there’s more to healthcare than they realize.

“We recognized that public awareness and understanding of the profession is a challenge, so we had committed to making sure this was an initiative that was top of mind for us as an organization,” he said. “When Canadians retreated to the safety of their home, our lab professionals really answered the call. They left the safety of their home and did what they needed to do to support our country’s healthcare, and they’ve been there, wave after wave after wave.”

The Coat of Honour was displayed in the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in London, Ont. prior to the holidays, while the initiative is also being supported by transit shelter advertising in key markets across the country.

Arrivals + Departure’s chief creative officer Jeff MacEachern said that the goal with the latest round of the campaign was to partner with a “beloved Canadian icon” to highlight the work being done by the country’s lab professionals.

Chris Powell