Lindsey Long has always loved to learn, and she has always wanted to lead. As an assessments team lead at LifeBrite Labs, both of those drives serve her deep sense of purpose to serve the better health of patients.

LifeBrite Laboratories is the third clinical lab Long has worked at, and the third time has definitely been the charm. The previous two? Well, she says she learned a lot… about how a lab should not be run.

At her first lab, Long was a Specimen Technician I, learning on the job in a fast-paced production environment. “I would ask a lot of questions,” she says, “but the supervisor there was reluctant for me to learn certain things.” Anything outside of her immediate responsibilities was none of her concern, or so the supervisor seemed to think. “But I didn’t let that stop me,” Long says.

Long took to sitting next to the team lead, always asking, “Can you show me how to do this?” The team lead was willing to teach, even when Long was asking her about things outside the scope of her current position.

Karma came calling one day.

“Both team leaders were  out — one was sick, and the other was on vacation — and the lab needed some time samples that usually only the team leads would handle,” says Long. “The supervisor didn’t know how to do it, but she knew that I had learned how to do it from sitting with the team leads, so she had to come ask me for help.”

Long was promoted to Specimen Technician II soon after, but it soon became clear to her that there would be no more opportunities for advancement at that lab. She decided to move on.

Money is a Poor Motivator

The next lab Long worked at was perpetually short-staffed. Long and her colleagues worked lots of overtime, all the time, including weekends and many major holidays… “I was always tired,” she says.

The long hours were hard enough, but it came without any sense of purpose or gratitude. “Our supervisor never said ‘thank you,’” Long says. “She tried to use the extra money as a motivator, but when the money is the focal point, something is seriously wrong.”

Through it all, Long was taking notes. She knew she aspired to a leadership role, and even these negative experiences were instructive. “This is exactly what I’m not going to do.”

The Power of Purpose, Please, and Thank You

At LifeBrite, Long was pleased to find a much more helpful and relaxed work environment. “We all help each other out,” she says. “It starts with the top leadership and flows down to everyone else.”

“We understand we’re here for a purpose,” she says. “This isn’t just a sample. This is someone’s life. This is someone’s wellbeing. And their doctor is trying to figure out what’s wrong. What would you do if this test was for my mom or my dad? We treat every test with the utmost respect.”

As team lead, Long is putting into practice the lessons she learned at her prior two labs. “I don’t try to give orders. I ask, politely, because when you have good leadership and a strong sense of purpose, people will do things for you out of the kindness of their heart. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ still go a long way. Every day, when my team heads home, I say, ‘Thank you for your work.’”

Feeding Her Family and Her Own Artistic Soul

Outside of LifeBrite, Long likes to cook and paint.

“Cooking is a family thing,” she says. “My great grandmother was the best cook in the family. Then my grandmother, and now my aunt. Now I’m trying to earn the title. It’s a family tradition.”

She likes to experiment with all kinds of cooking, but traditional Southern cooking is what she does best. (She was born and raised in Decatur and Stone Mountain, Georgia.)

“I like feeding people,” she says, “and seeing their reactions. My dad’s not really expressive, but he’ll eat something I cooked, then he’ll lean back and give me a thumbs-up, so I know I did a great job. My mom will do this little dance in her chair.”

In recent years, Long has discovered that she also likes to paint. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, she had started taking classes at local studios like Dib ‘n’ Dab. “I did not know how relaxing it could be,” she says. “If I could, I would stay there all day. I’m still in the baby stages of learning. It’s really deep and vast, and there’s so much to learn.”

Fortunately, the need to learn has never stopped Long. “I try to learn as much as I can,” she says. “Maybe one day I’ll paint something to hang in the LifeBrite lobby.”

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Laboratories, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Community Hospital of Early.