Critical Values is the go-to resource for the entire laboratory team, providing insight and information on the latest research, information, and issues within pathology and laboratory medicine. The print and online magazine invites submissions on topics including, but not limited to, advocacy, education, technology, global health, workforce, workplace best practices, and leadership.
E. Blair Holladay, PhD, MASCP, SCT(ASCP)CM
Chief Executive Officer
Molly Strzelecki Editor
Susan Montgomery Contributing Editor
Martin Tyminski Creative Director
Jennifer Brinson Art Direction and Design
The ASCP 2022 Annual Meeting marked a once in a lifetime opportunity to come together and celebrate the significant contributions that pathology and laboratory medicine have made to patient care over the last century. The festive atmosphere among attendees continued over all three days of the meeting, held September 7-9, in Chicago.
The Annual Meeting opened with a moving tribute to the history of ASCP and the milestones that have taken place within in the profession over the last 100 years. The celebration continued as attendees participated in activities over the next few days to celebrate their role in shaping the past and future of the profession. A lively Centennial Celebration was held on the evening of September 8 at the historic University Club of Chicago, offering a spectacular view of the city’s skyline.
Overall, more than 2,000 individuals attended the ASCP Annual Meeting, both in person and virtually, to hear renowned luminaries including former First Lady Michelle Obama and author and presidential historian Jon Meacham, as well as groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Through this exceptional event, attendees gained strategies to stay on the forefront of the profession, as well as laboratory stewardship techniques to improve outcomes and enhance patient care.
At the beginning of the Scientific General Session, 2021-2022 ASCP President Henry “Harv” Rinder, MD, FASCP, gave the President’s Address, offering highlights of the Society’s activities over the past year. He also spoke about the Society’s initiative focusing on the workforce shortage and ASCP’s new Workforce Task Force that is striving to expand pathways for future generations of pathologists and medical laboratory professionals.
During the meeting, nearly 50 Chicago Public Schools students were immersed in real-life scientific learning. ASCP hosted students from Lindblom Math and Science Academy on Chicago’s South Side, who took part in ASCP’s NEXTPO event.
The event was designed to introduce young people to the many different types of career opportunities within the medical laboratory, helping to address the current critical laboratory workforce shortage. Students took part in hands-on learning exercises and mingled with some of the world’s most renowned medical laboratory experts.
ASCP’s NEXTPO activities began with a welcome address by Tiffany Channer, MPH, MLS(ASCP)CM, an ASCP Career Ambassador, who spoke about the various types of career opportunities in the medical laboratory. Several ASCP Career Ambassadors, who are ASCP member volunteers, led the students in hands-on science workshops and talked about the various career paths in laboratory medicine.
In addition, Anne Walsh-Feeks, MS, PA(ASCP)CM, Chair of the ASCP Foundation, presented five academically talented high school students each with a $1,000 scholarship, sponsored by Asuragen.
“By inviting the students to take part in interactive experiments, encouraging them to meet with scientists who serve as ASCP Career Ambassadors, and offering them educational sessions to learn about amazing new scientific discoveries, we hope to expand students’ awareness of the exciting career opportunities that exist in laboratory medicine,” says ASCP CEO E. Blair Holladay, PhD, MASCP, SCT(ASCP)CM.
On the last day of the meeting, Dr. Rinder passed the mantle of leadership to 2022-2023 ASCP President Marsha C. Kinney, MD, MASCP. A distinguished educator, Dr. Kinney is the Frank M. Townsend Professor of Pathology and Chair of the Department of Pathology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. She also serves as the director of the Division of Hematopathology in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.
Robert A. Goulart, MD, MASCP, was installed as 2022-2023 President-Elect of ASCP. Dr. Goulart is associate chief of anatomic pathology in the Department of Pathology of the University of Massachusetts Memorial Health in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he is also the director of quality and patient safety and a professor of pathology.
Also, on the final day of the meeting, the ASCP 2022 Annual Awards recognized exemplary members whose leadership has shaped the Society and the profession. The ASCP Leaders Celebration honored many of these individuals, as well as ASCP’s 2022 40 Under Forty Top Five honorees and poster presentation award winners.
In addition to providing attendees with practical knowledge to support them as they advance their labs and discover how to take a leading role on the clinical care team, the ASCP 2022 Annual Meeting highlighted the achievements in pathology and laboratory medicine over the past century and the critical role that the laboratory plays in the medical care team. The 2023 Annual Meeting in Long Beach, California, will expand upon this year’s opportunities and be even more exciting. Mark your calendar now for October 18-20, 2023, and plan to attend the ASCP 2023 Annual Meeting in Long Beach!
In case you missed it, or if you would like to see more, 80 sessions from ASCP 2022 were recorded and posted online for continued viewing. This includes general sessions, named lectures, the entire Laboratory Professionals Track, a range of anatomic and clinical pathology sessions, and much more. You can purchase access at www.ascp.org/2022 to view and claim credit for these sessions through January 31, 2023.
ASCP is taking action with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which convenes global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. ASCP is working to expand and strengthen the laboratory workforce to ensure patients have access to quality care. Through the Society’s alignment with the CGI goals, ASCP has established a Commitment to Action, Developing the Next Generation of Laboratory Professionals: Resilient, Inclusive, and Visible, to develop the next generation of medical laboratory professionals, ensuring they are resilient, inclusive, and visible in all aspects of healthcare.
ASCP believes that a focus on diversity in terms of gender, age, and race/ethnicity will help make the laboratory workforce more representative of the general population. Building awareness of the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce is a first step toward developing and implementing recruitment strategies that reach students and employees from underrepresented groups and encourage them to pursue careers in the laboratory profession.
Recently, ASCP, in partnership with the University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies, conducted groundbreaking research that produced innovative strategies to bolster the laboratory workforce, setting recommendations under the following categories:
The ASCP Board of Certification (BOC) is transitioning all MT(ASCP) and MT(ASCPi) credentials to MLS(ASCP) and MLS(ASCPi), respectively. Additionally, individuals with the Molecular Pathology, MP(ASCP), credential will transition to Molecular Biology, MB(ASCP). In alignment with these transitions, the BOC Board of Governors in 2021 approved transitioning Cytotechnologist, CT(ASCP), to Cytologist, CT(ASCP), and Specialist in Cytotechnology, SCT(ASCP), to Specialist in Cytology, SCT(ASCP).
“Using and sharing these titles broadly will create a culture of solidarity and cohesion,” ASCP BOC BOG Chair Susan Graham, MS, MT(ASCP)SHCM, wrote in the May 2022 BOC newsletter. “We need to be consistent in advocating for the inclusion of laboratory professionals in actions that help in the recruitment and retention of the healthcare workforce.”
The ASCP BOC and the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) issued a position paper, Standardizing the Professional Title of Medical Laboratory Professionals, in spring 2021, that outlines the challenges the medical laboratory field has faced in gaining visibility and recognition for its essential contributions to the medical care team. The paper notes that while laboratory medicine is integral to diagnosis, treatment and patient care, the profession overall is not well understood by patients and health professionals.
The position statement asserts, “Interpretation of federal regulations governing standards for laboratory personnel has allowed those with insufficient laboratory-related education and training to perform moderate and complex testing, further diminishing the profession and confusing the healthcare community regarding required credentials for laboratory professionals. Another aspect to this problem is that many educational programs closed in the 1990s, resulting in a workforce shortage that has lasted more than 20 years. In response, managers and administrators have hired non-Medical Laboratory Scientist credentialed individuals to perform laboratory testing.” See the article in this issue of Critical Values to learn more.
The Pathologist’s “Power List” is an annual celebration of the great and inspirational minds that underpin the medical laboratory. ASCP is proud that 31 members are recognized in the 2022 Power List, which celebrates contributions to the profession in five keys areas: Ready for Take-Off, Ground Control, Voyage of Discovery, First Contact, and Strange New Worlds. Read the full story on www.ascp.org/content/news-archive.
ASCP has created an extraordinary documentary, Against All Odds, designed to raise the visibility of the important work pathologists and laboratory professionals do in the laboratory every day. This documentary shines a light on the need to engage and build up the medical laboratory workforce without which, there will be a severe disruption to laboratory services. If the laboratory workforce continues to decline, there will be a significant disruption to the delivery of healthcare.
Everyone must have a hand in elevating the visibility of the medical laboratory and pathology professions, and demonstrating to our healthcare colleagues, our patients, and our families and friends the critical role you play throughout a patient’s healthcare journey.
This is a great way for ASCP members to explain to family and friends what they do, and how they are part of the solution in healthcare. Share the video link, www.ascp.org/against-all-odds with colleagues as well!
Torrance Memorial Medical Center this fall became the first in the nation to receive the Leading Laboratories© recognition from ASCP and The Joint Commission. The two-year designation serves as proof of Torrance Memorial’s commitment to laboratory excellence and to help improve patient outcomes.
Torrance Memorial underwent a rigorous application process to receive the recognition, including a review of its outcomes, indicators, metrics, and evidence. Additionally, it had to demonstrate excellence in four key areas: elevating quality outcomes, supporting professional development, cultivating trusted leadership, and promoting laboratory visibility.
With focus on building a high-quality, state-of-the-art laboratory, the Torrance Memorial Department of Pathology and Clinical Laboratory (DPCL) initiated a five-year strategic plan based on six key pillars: people and culture, quality, financials, innovation, education, and growth. In 2021, DPCL implemented a robust quality management program. The quality program helped define, establish and maintain a collaborative, systematic and organization-wide approach to quality management.
Additional initiatives have included implementing core lab automation to reduce the outsourcing of select tests, increasing volume of outreach business, reducing turnaround time, and improving efficiency and productivity. Through a newly produced quarterly newsletter, the DPCL expanded engagement and increased visibility of these new innovations.
Central to the growth of the DPCL was the need to develop high-performing teams. In addition to supporting career development, lab leadership engaged in regular rounding to foster a motivating work climate, recognizing and rewarding outstanding team and individual contributions. The Leading Laboratories recognition is available to all Joint Commission-accredited hospital laboratories. Visit leadinglaboratories.org.
In collaboration with the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) and American Society for Microbiology (ASM), ASCP has released two new lists of recommendations for laboratory tests that are commonly ordered but not always appropriate in pathology and laboratory medicine as part of the Choosing Wisely campaign, an initiative of the ABIM Foundation. To date, ASCP has developed seven lists of recommendations that help reduce waste in healthcare, making it one of the most prolific contributors to the ABIM Foundation’s Choosing Wisely campaign. A total of nine new, evidence-based recommendations, developed with ASCLS and ASM, are designed to support conversations between patients and physicians about what care is necessary. Check it out at www.ascp.org/choosingwisely.
For more than 10 years, ASCP’s Choosing Wisely initiative has encouraged pathologists and laboratory medicine professionals to work to reduce test overuse and encourage patients to question which tests are truly necessary. ASCP has released its Effective Test Utilization 10-Year Report, offering a detailed look at the initiative’s impact over the past decade. Check it out at www.ascp.org/choosingwisely.
Conducted every two years, the ASCP Wage Survey serves as the primary source for industry, labor, government, and academic institutions. The results of the 2021 Wage Survey show mean hourly wages for staff-level personnel increased for only two occupations—cytologist and medical laboratory scientists—after adjusting for inflation. Geographically, laboratory professionals from urban areas continue to earn more than their rural counterparts. In addition to the most recent wage data, the survey also captures the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on staffing, workload, and work-life balance of laboratory professionals. It is evident from the report that the salary increases have not kept up with inflation. The report also urges the field to focus on visibility, recruitment and retention, and diversity for long- and short-term solutions. The full report can be viewed in the October 5, 2022, online issue of AJCP.
Amid the current outbreak of monkeypox, ASCP is working to disseminate guidance and support to laboratories. The latest information can be found on the ASCP Monkeypox Resource web page.