Collaborative ASCP/USCAP Program Provides Trainees with Education on The Hidden Curriculum of Pathology and Laboratory Management

By Alexander Feldman and Melissa Straub Hogan - April 04, 2022

Collaborative ASCP/USCAP Program Provides Trainees with Education on The Hidden Curriculum of Pathology and Laboratory Management

In an era where more physicians are finding themselves as “accidental administrators,” pathology trainees need to be prepared to be the next high-level officers of private groups, large hospitals and beyond. With this in mind, ASCP and USCAP collaborated to create the program Just Say Know! From Mentoring to High Performance. This program was the second meeting of its kind, following the successful 2017 ASCP/USCAP collaboration: 2020 Vision.

Participation in Just Say Know! was a competitive process in which applicants submitted resumes, personal statements and letters of recommendation to be considered. After reviewing more than 60 applicant submissions, an ASCP/USCAP scholarship selection committee chose winners who were each awarded a grant of $1,500 to cover the cost of travel and lodging. The meeting was held at USCAP’s Linder Learning Center and Powers-Sanchez Interactive Center in Palm Springs, California.

Among the attendees were 28 pathology trainees from 18 states and Canada, including leaders within ASCP and USCAP, pathology social media gurus, chief residents and physician-scientists. This diverse group of individuals each brought unique perspectives and experiences to the weekend. Trainees were given the opportunity to interact with industry experts who shared personal experiences and insights. Additionally, there was combined hands-on skills training and applications via case studies and exercises.

The weekend program encompassed areas of leadership, management, business and policy, and change. The first day’s initial events focused on leadership. Drs. Blair Holladay and David Kaminsky introduced the residents to their personal perspectives on how important these collaborative meetings can be and provided a great foundation to start the meeting. Emotional intelligence and empathic communication were brought to the forefront as essential qualities in leadership, and attendees were able to take a more introspective view on how they communicate with others. The ASCP Center for Global Health presented case studies in which attendees discussed health disparities, how to address these issues and how to implement change in these ever-changing environments. The afternoon session continued with essential management skills and topics, including mentoring, quality and patient safety, and problem solving, challenging trainees to troubleshoot issues they will encounter in their future practices. The first day ended with an immersive experience mixing art and leadership by visiting and discussing the downtown Palm Springs art installation “Babies on the Move.”

The second day started by focusing on external factors within the business environment and public policy that will shape the future practice of pathology. This included presentations and case-based discussions on future economic valuation and placement of diagnostic services as well as test utilization and laboratory stewardship. This was followed by a skills development course on the art of negotiating. The final session of the meeting focused on change management skills and rounded out an exciting meeting for trainees, one that will assuredly provide a great foundation for success in their future careers.

I recently caught up with attendee, Dr. Melissa Hogan, a PGY-3 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and asked about her experiences with the program:

What made you apply for such a unique program such as Just Say Know?

Melissa Hogan (MH): I’ve always been a person who has been intrigued by leadership. Knowing that these two great organizations wanted to create a program to help future leaders better do their jobs seemed like the perfect way to learn this information. It made me really take a more detailed look at my leadership style and things I need to improve on moving forward. I guess the short answer to your question would be: Why wouldn’t I apply!?

What was the highlight of the first day of the program?

MH: It may sound funny, but for me it was meeting everyone. We had so many diverse people coming from different backgrounds who each found medicine at different times in their lives. But despite all of that, everyone was there to enhance their education in very important ways. It was also a great way to network, meeting people I follow on social media but whom I’ve never met in person before. If I had to pick one program from the first day, though, it would have to be the art and leadership discussion. Realizing that medicine, leadership and really everything we do as pathologists and lab professionals is truly an art (and not just how much reagent goes into a particular chemical reaction) is really important. I value being artistic in my free time, and so for me, it was a great way to enjoy two things I truly love.

What was the highlight of the second day of the program?

MH: That’s pretty tough, but I would have to say it was the discussion on academic versus community practice. I myself am trying to figure out which avenue I will eventually travel down and hearing the perspectives of physicians from both ends of the spectrum was very informative.

What is something you would say was a big take away from the program?

MH: I think, first and foremost, educating yourself on topics like this is really important. Programs like Just Say Know! are a way to open doors, open your mind and think a little differently. I was surprised how open and honest the faculty was about things that were happening in their own lives, how they tackled them, and how they use similar problem solving skills every day in their respective scopes of practice. We have so many opportunities as medical professionals, and we need to take advantage of programs like this to make us our best selves and the best doctors we can be.