By - February 02, 2021
As we stand on the precipice of 2021, the words “New Year” have never felt so weighted. Last year was unlike any we’ve ever seen, and as we turn the page on a new calendar, we are hopeful that this year will bring calm where there was chaos, and assurance where there was uncertainty. This New Year is filled with so much hope. Hope that we as a country will heal from the myriad events that shook our foundation in 2020. Hope that a safe, widespread vaccine rollout will help us get back to health. Hope that the challenges we faced in 2020 do not define us, but instead propel us forward and lift us up, becoming the foundation of what we build on, helping us grow stronger.
While many in healthcare faced overwhelming situations during 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, pathologists and medical laboratory scientists found themselves in a unique position—in the spotlight as they had never been before, while working tirelessly on test results for the millions of people affected by the Coronavirus. As testing across the country ramped up, patients got to see, often for the first time, the workings of the laboratory, and the critical role the laboratory plays in their care, past, present, and future. And without a doubt, what they saw—the commitment, the passion, the care—was inspiring.
In the centerspread of this issue of Critical Values, you’ll find the ASCP 2020 Annual Report. Though the past year presented unprecedented challenges for our members, and for ASCP, we managed to not only survive, but thrive. We’ve captured the highlights of the Society’s activities in the pages of this year’s Annual Report, and seeing all that we accomplished is absolutely exhilarating. From our advocacy efforts to the innovative education developed to meet members’ needs throughout the pandemic, everything we did we could not have accomplished without our members. It is an honor to work with each of you, and to persevere in the name of patient care.
For many, the COVID-19 pandemic presented new realities they didn’t expect. But for some it also presented an opportunity to lead. In their article, "Finding Opportunity Through Uncertainty: How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Shaping the Laboratory," Dr. Gaurav Sharma looks at how COVID-19 has disrupted the traditional ways of doing business, but has also accelerated the adoption of technology that enables new and more efficient ways of doing business. And that, in turn, represents a positive opportunity for young leaders.
The term “social distancing” has become part of our regular lexicon, but despite people staying physically distant, we’ve still managed to stay connected, thanks to the many forms of social media available to us. In their article, “Handshakes, Follows, and Shares: Contemporary Professional Networking and Social Media,” Drs. Constantine Kanakis and Kamran Mirza discuss how leveraging platforms like Twitter has become a great connector for people personally, but importantly, also professionally. “Like how we are growing, educating, and connecting on social media platforms, we are also networking, and professional connection-making will never be the same again,” the authors write, and the utility of social media, they add, is underappreciated.
In June and July 2020, ASCP collected laboratory workforce data on whether there had been changes in testing, staffing, and retention of laboratory professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of that survey, and how it will affect vacancies in the laboratory going forward, were shared at ASCP 2020 Virtual, and in this issue of Critical Values, we share an executive summary of those findings.
We don’t know what 2021 will bring, but we do know that having endured the battle of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are ready for any new challenges that we may face. We are driven by our responsibility and duty to provide quality patient care, and we will succeed because we are STRONGERTOGETHER.
Thank you for your continued support of ASCP. Please send me your comments and suggestions at Blair.Holladay@ascp.org. My very best to each of you.